Britain’s Cameron urges EU to relax Jordan trade to help refugees

Before arriving at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Cameron vowed to discuss steps to create economic opportunities in Jordan

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UK Prime Minister David Cameron will call on EU leaders to relax trade rules with Jordan to help spur economic growth and help “hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees across the region to work”.

Before arriving at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Cameron said he would, together with Queen Rania of Jordan, discuss with business and political leaders on Friday what steps could be taken to create economic opportunities in Jordan.

Cameron said he would press the EU to relax export rules for Jordan, making it easier for the country’s producers to qualify for duty-free access to EU markets and create jobs for refugees fleeing conflict in Syria, in meetings with European leaders on Wednesday and Thursday.

“These steps will provide real benefits to refugees in the region now, as well as enabling them to play a leading role in Syria’s reconstruction in the future,” he said in a statement.

“This is not just in the interests of Syria and her neighbors. 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.”

Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled the Middle East and Africa and arrived in Europe, straining the bloc’s system of open internal borders within the EU.

Britain, which is not part of the Schengen system of borderless travel within Europe, drew criticism from other EU leaders for not taking Syrian refugees stranded on Europe’s highways, and only agreeing to take 20,000 of them directly from Middle East camps.

Cameron said Britain will stage a pledging conference for Syria next month to raise billions of dollars in international aid for those fleeing Syria’s five-year conflict.

“We don’t just need to agree more money and more aid. We need to agree concrete action that will give hope to so many - jobs so they can provide for their families, and education for their children,” Cameron said.

“The EU has a vital role to play - coming together to offer genuine support for Syria’s neighbors. We should swiftly agree to change the rules so Jordan can increase its exports and create new jobs.”

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