The Trade Facilitation Project, funded by USAID, stimulates trade in the West Bank and Gaza and facilitates cargo movement by supporting facility and equipment upgrades on the Palestinian side of selected cargo crossing points and operational efficiencies at Israeli-managed crossings. Through the project, Chemonics works with local traders and their associations to lower trade costs through improvements in packing, loading, logistics, and transportation, and by facilitating dialogue with the government of Israel to speed the movement of Palestinian cargo to markets in Israel and abroad.
The project is also building Palestinian Authority capacity to manage its future borders and to work more effectively with the trade community. It has successfully leveraged the support and expertise of Israel and Jordan customs staff to improve the skills of Palestinian customs officers and prepare them to assume greater responsibility for customs matters — instituting risk-based controls, improved valuation techniques, and standard operating procedures throughout the agency.
The project achieved great success in working with Israel to re-open a vehicle crossing in the northern West Bank near the city of Jenin. The new crossing re-establishes the traditional social and economic link between the city and the more than 1.5 million Arab-Israelis living in the north of Israel that had been cut off since the second Intifada, virtually destroying the local economy. Many cars drive into Jenin from Israel each week to shop and visit family or local attractions. The volume of visitors has been far greater than expected, transforming the local economy, reducing unemployment, and stimulating greater investment.
Additionally, the Trade Facilitation Project contributed to major improvements in movement and access, including extended working hours at select crossing points, expanded door-to-door shipments for the stone and marble industry. The project also removed key roadblocks and checkpoints in the West Bank and expanded access for Arab-Israelis to the West Bank.