Jordan fully reopens main border crossing with Syria, expects trade to begin recovering after war & sanctions

A Syria-Jordan border checkpoint is allowing vehicles and goods to flow between the two nations once again. Officials in Amman hope the move will help boost trade relations, which have been ravaged by war and US sanctions.

Dozens of vehicles lined up at the Nasib-Jaber crossing on Wednesday, when the border checkpoint was officially fully reopened for the first time in years. Announcing the reopening of the crossing, Jordan’s trade and industry minister, Maha Al Ali, expressed hope the move will boost trade between the two nations.

“The aim of these understandings is to boost trade exchange between the two countries to achieve the interests of every party,” the minister told Jordanian state-owned Al-Mamlaka TV.

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The border crossing was defunct for years while large swaths of territory in southern Syria remained under militant control. Before the war, the Nasib-Jaber crossing was a major transit hub, seeing hundreds of trucks passing each day.

The Nasib-Jaber checkpoint was partially reopened in 2018 when Syrian government troops liberated the surrounding areas. The unstable security situation, as well as coronavirus-related restrictions, however, prevented the crossing from operating at full capacity.

“The security situation is now stable on the Syrian side and we hope it remains stable,” the head of the Jordanian part of the crossing, Colonel Moayad Al Zubi, told Reuters.

Crippling Western sanctions against Damascus heavily affected trade between Jordan and Syria as well. Before the years-long war inSyria, the two nations enjoyed bilateral trade worth around $1 billion each year.

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The most serious sanctions package against Damascus, known as the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, was adopted by the US in 2019 under the Donald Trump administrations. The package, which came into force last June, has effectively prohibited foreign businesses from trading with Damascus. Now, however, Jordanian businessmen hope the US will ease the sanctions on Syria, particularly in dealing with its southern neighbor.

“We now are feeling there is a US move to give a bigger space for Jordanian businessmen to deal with Syria,” vice chairman of the Jordan Chamber of Commerce, Jamal Al Refai, has said.

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