Exclusive - Lebanese Welcome Reopening of Jordanian-Syrian Border Crossing

Exclusive - Lebanese Welcome Reopening of Jordanian-Syrian Border Crossing

Tuesday, 16 October, 2018 - 08:30
A Jordanian policeman opens the gate of Jordan's border crossing checkpoint near Syria's Nassib checkpoint. (Reuters)
Beirut - Nazeer Rida
Lebanon welcomed the official reopening of the Nassib border crossing between Jordan and Syria after its three-year closure. Monday’s development is expected to revitalize Lebanon’s agriculture and industry sectors, as well as transit activity.

President Michel Aoun hailed the reopening of the crossing, saying it will restore Lebanon’s connection to Arab countries.

He noted that the reopening will reduce the cost of exports to Arab countries, calling on all sides to take advantage of the opportunity and revive the economy.

Head of the Bekaa farmers’ association Ibrahim Tarshishi said that General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim had confirmed to him that Lebanon could now return to exporting products to Arab countries through the Nassib crossing.

“After contacting Syrian authorities, Ibrahim said that the road is open for Lebanese products and the situation has returned to the way it was before the eruption of the border crisis in 2015,” he added.

Caretaker Agriculture Minister Ghazi Zoaiter said the return of Lebanese trucks through the Syrian border was restored without any complications.

“The reopening will greatly revive the agriculture sector,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

He said it would be “ideal” if agricultural exports reached $200 million, an amount equivalent to 60 percent of exports to Arab Gulf countries that was reached before the eruption of the Syrian crisis in 2011.

“We would be able to compensate farmers’ losses if we are able to reach these figures,” he explained.

Prior to its closure, 85 percent of Lebanese agricultural exports used to pass through the Nassib crossing. Its closure halved these figures and negatively impacted exports. Lebanon resorted to exports by sea, which cost it $27 million.

Despite this alternate route, said Zoaiter, Lebanon was unable to meet its projected goals and the agricultural exports dropped.

“Lebanon has a great interest in restoring exports by land. It may even be the greatest beneficiary from the reopening of the crossing,” he remarked.

Lebanon’s industrial sector is also set to witness a revival with the reopening. This is related to the food industry and old partnerships between Beirut and Arab countries.

Sources following up on the file told Asharq Al-Awsat that the resumption of transit through Jordan will revive Lebanese industrial production to meet market demands.

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