EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson arrives in the Middle East today for three days of talks with ministers, officials and business representatives from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Jordan.
Mandelson comes with proposals for developing trade relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and on how they and other countries in the region can benefit from the proposed new system of regional ‘cumulation of origin’.
Among other people, Mandelson will meet Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade, and Labor Ehud Olmert, Israeli Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu, and Jordanian Minister of Industry and Trade Sharif Ali Zu’Bi . He will also deliver a lecture at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem on ‘EU Trade policy and the Middle East’ on May 19, and participate in the World Economic Forum in Jordan on May 21.
Speaking before his departure, Mandelson said: “This is a time of renewed hope in the Middle East. But a political settlement will not endure if it does not deliver economic stability and greater prosperity for the Israeli and Palestinian people. The European Union has stood with the Israelis and the Palestinians in the search for peace, offering concrete support through its major economic assistance programmes. We need now to consider how we can go further and contribute in a different way to consolidating peace.”
A statement from the Delegation of the European Commission to the State of Israel said, "Commissioner Mandelson’s visit will reinforce Europe’s commitment to helping develop trading links in the Middle East region and between the Middle East and Europe through the creation of a Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area in goods and services, reinforced by the PanEuroMed system of cumulation of origin. This will allow products sourced and produced throughout the Mediterranean region to enter the EU market on a preferential basis.
"It is estimated that the introduction of this system in the entire Mediterranean region could increase trade in the region by 40%.
"Mr Mandelson will also advocate the creation of stronger economic links between Jordan and the Palestinian Authority."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il - on May 18, 2005