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Jordan Free Trade Agreement
The United States and Jordan continue to benefit from an extensive economic partnership. A key element of this relationship is the United States-Jordan Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which entered into force on December 17, 2001, and was implemented fully on January 1, 2010. In addition, the Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZs) program, established by the U.S. Congress in 1996, allows products to enter the United States duty free if manufactured in Jordan, Egypt, or the West Bank and Gaza, with a specified amount of Israeli content.
U.S. goods exports to Jordan were an estimated $2.0 billion in 2017, up 34.5 percent from 2016. QIZ products account for about one percent of Jordanian exports to the United States. The QIZ share of these exports is declining relative to the share of exports shipped to the United States under provisions of the FTA.
At the Joint Committee’s most recent meeting in May 2016, the United States and Jordan discussed labor, agriculture, specifically current technical barriers to agricultural trade, acceptance of the Word Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement and accession to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement. The parties opened a dialogue to outline concrete steps to boost trade and investment bilaterally, and between Jordan and other countries in the Middle East region. After the meetings concluded, the issue regarding import licensing of poultry from the United States was resolved to allow the importation of U.S. poultry into Jordan. Poultry imports of $8 million were exported to Jordan in 2017.
The United States also has continued to work with Jordan in the area of labor standards. In 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) removed Jordanian garments from its List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor on the grounds that there had been a significant reduction in the incidence of forced labor in Jordan’s garment sector. The United States and Jordan sought to build on this success through ongoing efforts under the Implementation Plan Related to Working and Living Conditions of Workers in Jordan, signed in 2013. The Plan addresses labor concerns in Jordan’s garment factories, including those regarding anti-union discrimination against foreign workers, conditions of accommodations for foreign workers, and gender discrimination and harassment. In 2016, the Jordanian Ministries of Health and Labor signed an agreement that purports to ensure labor inspections include garment dormitories, thereby addressing one of the pending commitments in the Implementation Plan; inspections began in 2017. The United States and Jordan continued to work towards completion of the Implementation Plan.
The Ministry of Labor is working with the DOL-funded International Labour Organization (ILO) Better Work program to improve their understanding of internationally-recognized labor standards and the process for conducting audits in the garment sector, including by assigning labor inspectors to the project. Ongoing engagement focuses on internalizing lessons learned from Better Work to build labor inspector capacity, conducting inspections that include dormitories in the QIZs, and continuing outreach efforts to ensure that stakeholders understand their legal rights to participate in unions and enjoy workplaces free of discrimination and harassment. Jordan also has worked with Better Work Jordan to ensure that factory-level audits are publicly available
Following the May 2016 Joint Committee meeting, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) and the DOL have explored cooperative activities to support Jordan’s efforts to improve labor law enforcement and compliance. In 2017, the DOL provided technical assistance to the MOL to strengthen mediation capacity and improve its ability to support collective bargaining. The U.S. DOL also awarded funding in 2017 to the ILO to build central and regional government capacity to address child labor.