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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05AMMAN7793
2005-10-02 07:54:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Amman
Cable title:  

JORDAN AND ISRAEL CLOSE TO NEW QIZ ARRANGEMENT

Tags:   ETRD  KTEX  ECON  PREL  IS  JO 
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020754Z Oct 05
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 AMMAN 007793 

SIPDIS

PASS TO USTR
STATE FOR NEA FRONT OFFICE, NEA/ELA, NEA/IPA
STATE ALSO FOR EB/TPP/ABT
COMMERCE/ITA/OTEXA - M. D'ANDREA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/28/2015
TAGS: ETRD KTEX ECON PREL IS JO
SUBJECT: JORDAN AND ISRAEL CLOSE TO NEW QIZ ARRANGEMENT

REF: A. TEL AVIV 5077


B. AMMAN 4440

Classified By: CDA David Hale for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (U) This message contains an action request. See para 11.



2. (C) SUMMARY: Jordan is close to agreeing with Israel on
an amendment to their Qualifying Industrial Zone (QIZ)
Agreement that would change the terms of the product review
mechanism by which Israeli content in Jordanian QIZ products
is audited. The cumbersome pre-audit of every single product
has been an inefficient, non-competitive drain on Jordanian
manufacturers, who prefer a system closer to the Israel-Egypt
QIZ model (Refs). An initial meeting between the GoJ and GoI
has produced potential alternatives, including a quarterly
audit system to ensure the requirement for 8 percent Israeli
content is being met. The two sides will meet again on
October 6, and are forwarding to USTR Portman a summary of
their preliminary discussions. Jordan seeks USG views on the
proposed new arrangement. END SUMMARY.



3. (C) Reviewing the QIZ negotiations with Israel, Baha'
Al-Armouti, an assistant to the GoJ Ministry of Industry and
Trade (MOIT) Secretary General, told econoff that he and
Hassan al-Nsour from the MOIT QIZ Unit met with Gabi Bar of
Israel's Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor (MITL) and
Yair Shiran of the MITL International Agreements and Trade
Policy Department on September 20. Armouti said the
Jordanian side cast the meeting in the context of adapting
QIZ trade regimes to facilitation of ongoing procedures at
Jordan's QIZ factories, which produce mainly garments.
Armouti told his Israeli counterparts that an increasing
number of Jordanian manufacturers were now balancing their
efforts between QIZ production and FTA production on separate
lines in the same factories. NOTE: FTA items accounted for
roughly a fifth of QIZ factory production in the first half
of the year. END NOTE.



4. (C) Armouti further highlighted Jordanian manufacturers'
frustration with the current product review mechanism whereby
each clothing item (by tariff Harmonized System code) must be
pre-approved to ensure that it has 8 percent Israeli content.
Producers had been raising questions about the inefficiency
and non-competitive nature of this procedure since well
before Egypt and Israel adopted the post-facto, quarterly
content review system in Egyptian QIZ's.



5. (C) Armouti reported that at first, Israel insisted that
Jordan move to an 11.7 percent content requirement - vice the
current 8 percent requirement - if it wanted a product review
system similar to the Egyptian model. But the GoJ side
elaborated further on why Jordanian manufacturers were
shifting to production under the U.S.-Jordan FTA largely to
avoid the current cumbersome review system.




6. (C) A follow-on Israeli proposal laid out two choices --
either Jordan could fully adopt the Egyptian model with the
11.7 percent content requirement that includes "carry on"
provisions from one quarter to the next, or Jordan could
modify the Egyptian model to keep an 8 percent content
requirement without "carry on." (NOTE: A factory in Jordan
now must account for Israeli content in each and every
article manufactured; if it purchases "too much" Israeli
thread for a certain line, it cannot carry forward that
excess content to another article of clothing. In contrast,
as Armouti explained it, the Egyptian factory totals up
quarterly inputs from Israel and outputs for the U.S. market
under the QIZ agreement, and can carry forward excess Israeli
content to any other outputs in the next quarter. END NOTE.)



7. (C) Noting that the MOIT had generally explored the
Egyptian concept with Jordanian manufacturers, Armouti was
confident they would prefer the 8 percent content requirement
and that they would continue to make arrangements with
suppliers about excess content. This was a burden they had
already adapted to - notwithstanding additional layers of
accounting and administration - said Armouti, in lieu of the
simpler "carry on" provision. He opined that this was a
"more intensive" process, but that the 8 percent content
requirement would balance more with the FTA.



8. (C) All other aspects of the quarterly review system
would be identical to the procedure now carried out in Egypt,
according to Armouti. The two sides are to meet again on
October 6 in Amman to iron out details, with Israel taking
the lead in drafting the procedural details.



9. (C) Armouti requested the USG,s assessment of this
change. He passed two draft documents to be signed by
Israeli and Jordanian representatives which outlined the
state of play of this QIZ negotiation: a cover letter to
USTR Portman to be signed by the two trade ministers, and a
one-page "minutes of meeting." (Post is faxing copies to
NEA/ELA and relevant agencies.)



10. (C) COMMENT: This issue has been a thorn in the side of
Jordan-Israel trade relations since the December 2004
Israel-Egypt agreement (Refs). From post,s perspective,
settlement of the QIZ content review mechanism would be in
the USG interest, as well as eliminate one source of friction
in regional economic relations.



11. (C) ACTION REQUEST: Given that the two sides must seek
final approval from the U.S. for any change to the
Jordan-Israel QIZ Agreement, Post believes that a provisional
indication of USG approval to the general approach the GoJ
and GoI are taking could accelerate the conclusion of these
negotiations. Washington guidance in response to Jordan's
request for the USG,s assessment is appreciated.
HALE