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A Missed Opportunity: Employing Syrian Refugees in Jordan

Following the Jordan Compact agreement in February 2016...Jordan pledged to create 200,000 work opportunities for Syrians in exchange for aid and an agreement that relaxes the EU's rules of origin for imports...According to the agreement, 52 Jordanian products are exempted from rules of origin stipulations on the condition that they are made up of at least 15 percent Syrian labor, and are manufactured in one of 18 special economic zones...While the Compact incentivizes employment in the manufacturing sector, Syrian refugees in Jordan are not skilled in this field...Despite the Compact's conditions, conversations with companies located in the industrial zones revealed that in the short run there is little incentive for many of them to hire Syrian refugees. One company reported that hiring Syrians subjects a company to additional levels of scrutiny from international organizations and government entities. Others reported low retention rates, with many of the hired refugees leaving the job within weeks. Considering the necessity for training, this represents a significant loss to company resources...Accessing the European market has had its complications. So far, only two have managed to export to Europe out of a total of eight companies that have received export license numbers under the Jordan Compact...

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