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JORDAN: New E-commerce Customs Platform and Lower Duty-Free Allowances

Jordan has introduced a new online platform for e-commerce customs processing, while also drastically reducing personal allowances for duty-free cross border e-commerce purchases.

The changes were revealed on 19 August by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s Customs Department (JCD), with the new regime coming into effect from 22 August. The system was launched in a bid to support domestic businesses, according to Director General of the JCD, Major General Abdul Majeed Rahamneh. He said: “The platform was introduced to protect Jordanian traders, sellers and producers from consumers’ unwillingness to buy locally-produced goods and instead opt to using electronic platforms, which cause the sector to incur heavy losses.”

The platform was originally intended for customs declarations by all purchasers of online goods, but due to public outcry and the practicalities involved, Jordan’s cabinet has exempted online buyers from being required to use the system. Only express shipping companies involved now need to provide the required data on the system. 

At the same time, Jordan’s Council of Ministers also approved a number of financial allowances and cost bands, with various charges and procedures attached, for personal use goods purchased via electronic platforms. Previously, Jordanians were able to purchase clothes, shoes, foodstuffs and children's toys at a total cost of up to JOD200 (US$282) per month without having to pay customs fees, up to a total value of JOD2,400 (US$3,394) for each year. Under the new rules, this has been lowered to only JOD500 (US$707) for each year.

According to an announcement on the Prime Ministry of Jordan’s Facebook page, the new allowances on goods purchased online are limited only to clothing, footwear, children's toys and food items. Furthermore, the new arrangements will be monitored in the first three months to assess whether an effective balance is being achieved between the interests of all parties involved.

The move has been unpopular with many stakeholders in the e-commerce sector. CashBasha, a popular e-commerce website in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, announced that it was putting its Jordanian service on hold soon after the new arrangements were introduced. CashBasha argues that consumers are being coerced unfairly to buy locally made goods, and in many cases the goods bought are only available from overseas.

In contrast, Asaad Qawasmi, a representative of the clothes, garment and jewellery sector at the Jordan Chamber of Commerce, said that the new platform should help curtail individuals that have used loopholes in the previous system to purchase tax-free goods online using multiple identities, to then sell the goods illegally at below-market prices.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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