(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is intensively working on a project to enable Palestinian industries export their products worldwide through Jordan within the coming few years, according to a Japanese official.
The project, funded by Japan under its initiative "corridor for peace and prosperity", entails the establishment of a 100-million agro-industrial park near Jericho.
The park, which will function as a hub for Palestinian industries in different sectors, is expected to be operational by the end of 2012, Hideki Matsunaga, director of Middle East Division at the Middle East and Europe Department at JICA, said in an interview with The Jordan Times in Tokyo last week.
"Currently, Palestinian businesses and industries in the West Bank suffer from Israeli checkpoints, restrictions, shortage of power and water, but through the project we seek to help them grow, he said, adding that Japan will use all its connections to remove trade obstacles facing Palestinians.
He explained that the park will be supplied with sufficient water and energy as well as ensure smoother business procedures to enable factories export their products through Jordan, elaborating the scheme also plans to attract businesses from different Palestinian cities in the West Bank to the park.
"Jordan is very supportive of the project. We are currently in the process of talks with Jordan to open a road connecting Southern Shuneh with the park in Jericho, Matsunaga said.
The plan is to enable factories in the park to smoothly export their goods through this road without any hurdles in cooperation with Jordan and Israel," he added, pointing out that the feasibility study for the road has been completed.
The park will help enhance trade between the West Bank and Jordan in addition to boosting the Palestinian economy as more jobs will be created, the Japanese official remarked.
"The presence of Israeli checkpoints and other restrictions have always affected the Palestinian economy and we are working on removing all these restraints," he said.
The first stage, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2012, will be created over a 11.5 hectares, while the second and third stages that cover an area of 50 hectares each will be completed over phases.
As companies in the West Bank suffer from water shortage as well as power shortage, JICA is committed to 6.5 million to construct solar power system to provide the park with necessary power, he said, adding that the system is still in the bidding process. The solar power system will be installed in September 2011.
JICA is also conducting studies on best options to provide the park with necessary water, adding that there are abandoned wells and shared wells that JICA will work on developing to ensure the supply of sufficient water.
By Mohammad Ghazal