Syria to reopen Jordan border crossing, customs fees soar

Syria to reopen Jordan border crossing, customs fees soar
The Syrian regime announced a six-fold increase in customs fees ahead of reopening the only border crossing with its neighbour Jordan.
2 min read
29 September, 2018
Russian military patrolling the Nassib crossing [Getty]
The main border crossing between Jordan and Syria is set to reopen next month for the first time in three years, paving the way for hundreds of millions of dollars in renewed trade revenue for the two neighbours.

"The Syrian transport ministry announces the opening of the Nasib border crossing, with trucks and transit vehicles beginning to cross the Syrian-Jordanian border," the ministry announced on its Facebook page. 

It then clarified in a statement carried by state news agency SANA that authorities had "completed logistical preparations to reopen the Nasib border crossing with Jordan on October 10". 

Jordanian government spokeswoman Jumana Ghneimat said on Saturday the "Jaber-Nassib crossing remains closed," and no goods or travellers had passed through. 

Regime forces retook the Syrian side of the crossing in July under a deal with rebel fighters brokered by Damascus ally Moscow. 

It had been sealed completely since rebels overran it in April 2015, choking off one of the most important trade routes for the regime.

The crossing was a key link not only for direct trade between the neighbouring countries but also for longer-distance transit trade between Lebanon and the Gulf which was a signficant source of revenue. 

Earlier this week, Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis said all necessary steps had been completed to reopen the crossing, with investment in new infrastructure to be paid for by a sharp hike in duties.

"This crossing will be invested in according to our national interest. The customs fees were amended to achieve the interests of the Syrian state, increased from $10 to $62 for a four-tonne truck," Khamis said.

Both Damascus and Amman have been keen to reopen the border to bring new revenues.

Jordan, which has suffered financially in recent years, has lost around $800 million in revenues each year since the closure of the Nassib crossing. 

However, despite the reopening of Nassib and warming relations between Damascus and Amman, the two differ widely on key regional issues including the presence of Iranian proxies and troops in Syria that back the regime.

Bashar al-Assad has also been criticised by King Abdullah of Jordan for his brutal suppression of protests in 2011.

Since then, around 600,000 people have died in Syria, mostly from regime bombing and shelling of civilian areas.

Cash-strapped Jordan also hosts more than 1.3 million Syrian refugees who have fled fighting and regime bombing during the seven-year long conflict.

Despite recapturing swathes of territory this year, Damascus still controls only half of the 19 crossings along Syria's borders with Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey.

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