Last updated: 20 January, 2016

Britain urges EU to ease trade rules with Jordan

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday is expected to urge leaders to ease trade rules between Jordan and the European Union (EU) to help Amman cope with the Syrian refugee crisis.

The Conservative leader is to call for changes to spur economic growth and employment in neighbouring countries to Syria at the annual gathering of business and political elites at Davos in Switzerland.

“The EU has a vital role to play — coming together to offer genuine support for Syria’s neighbours. We should swiftly agree to change the rules so Jordan can increase its exports and create new jobs,” Cameron said in a statement released ahead of his arrival at the World Economic Forum (WEF).

“This is not just in the interests of Syria and her neighbours. It is in the interests of Europe too. The more we do to enable people to stay in the region, the less likely we are to see them coming to Europe.”

Cameron will raise the ideas including revising trade rules, allowing zones where investors could employ Syrians, and allowing businesses to be run in refugee camps in meetings with European leaders during the forum.

A spokesman for Cameron said the prime minister would meet with Queen Rania of Jordan and other business and political leaders “to discuss what practical steps they can take to create new economic opportunities in Jordan”.

The meeting comes ahead of a conference on Syria scheduled for February 4 in London.

Jordan hosts more than 600,000 of the four million Syrians who have fled their country since the conflict broke out in 2011, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The Jordanian government estimates the numbers of Syrian refugees it hosts to be 1.4 million.