Pundits Urge Careful Treading on Economic Boycott as Jordan Fosters Support For Palestinians

Jordan, in response to the ongoing Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip, is utilizing its full array of political and economic resources to support the Palestinian people, bolster their resilience on their ancestral lands, and liberate their economy from the clutches of Israeli occupation. The relentless Israeli attacks on Gaza’s civilian population, coupled with the destruction of essential infrastructure, has created an urgent need for Jordan to fortify its economic capabilities. This is crucial for enabling the provision of meaningful assistance to the people of Gaza during this dire crisis. As the region confronts these extraordinary circumstances, further exacerbated by the effects of a recent global pandemic, there is growing discussion of an economic boycott. This proposed boycott, however, is not discriminatory and has the potential to affect both long-standing local investments and foreign-based companies alike. While there is a firm commitment to utilize all available means to protect the Palestinian people and halt the tragic loss of life in Gaza, Jordan also recognizes the importance of safeguarding its local investments and companies. These enterprises have been instrumental in creating thousands of employment opportunities within the Kingdom. Economic experts underscore the necessity of establishing a well-defined reference or entity encompassing various segments of society to identify foreign firms supporting the Israeli occupation. They emphasize that any proposed economic boycott should be implemented with great care to avoid harming local businesses, thereby preventing a negative impact on the national economy and potential increases in unemployment. Renowned economic analyst, Hossam Ayesh, affirms that economic boycotts are a powerful tool with amplified effects when their scope broadens. To minimize potential collateral damage to the local investor and national companies, he suggests imposing a limited-time boycott, aimed at signaling that alternative products, goods, and services are readily available in Jordan. Ayesh stresses that a robust purchasing power not only positions the Jordanian economy to adopt principled political stances but also enables the facilitation of aid delivery and campaigns, both in-kind and financial, in support of the beleaguered people of Gaza. He adds that fostering a preference for Jordanian products can also rebalance the trade equilibrium, as they serve as substitutes for imported goods. Furthermore, Jordan’s open and economically free status hinges on investments, which act as a pivotal driver of economic performance by generating job opportunities and augmenting economic growth. Ayesh insists that the message behind an economic boycott should remain crystal clear and must avoid harming local investors. Extended boycotts could create an undesirable economic situation and cause ripple effects throughout the national economy. Tariq Hijazi, Director General of the Jordanian Businessmen Association, underscores the efficacy of economic boycotts as a tool for exerting pressure and advocating for important national causes. However, he stresses that any boycott should refrain from harming Jordan’s economic interests and overall national economy. The direct boycott of foreign products is likely to have a more substantial impact than boycotting local investments firmly rooted within the Kingdom. Hijazi underscores the vital role played by numerous sectors – be they commercial, service, or industrial – rooted in national investments. These sectors not only provide employment opportunities but also contribute significantly to the gross domestic product, thus bolstering the national budget and mitigating deficits and associated debts. Moreover, Hijazi points out that Jordanian consumers overwhelmingly prefer local products due to their competitive quality and pricing, which frequently positions them favorably against global counterparts. Economist Mazen Marji argues that boycotts are most effective in societies with consistent patterns of consumption for specific goods and services. In the current context, calls for boycotting companies owning international brands are predicated on political and emotional considerations, with varying levels of demand across Arab societies. This variance makes the impact of such boycotts limited. Marji posits that boycotts represent an economic and civilized approach, contingent upon a widespread culture of responsible consumption and solidarity with society. Additionally, readily available local alternatives are necessary for successful boycotts, which can be challenging due to the prevailing monopolies and advancements of the companies targeted. Moreover, he argues that boycotting products of Jordanian companies holding international licenses will significantly harm these businesses, leading to decreased revenue and financial contributions to the national treasury, and ultimately the shedding of local jobs. As Jordan predominantly relies on imports, finding local industries to replace boycotted products remains a challenging proposition. Dean of the College of Law at Philadelphia University, Moayad Khawaldeh, acknowledges the importance of an economic boycott as a form of expression against the injustices faced by the people of Gaza. However, he urges careful consideration, ensuring that companies or products included in any boycott are indeed affiliated with the occupation or its supporters. Unfairly targeting companies for personal gain can result in damaging their reputation, impacting their employees, and, subsequently, increasing unemployment rates. Khawaldeh advocates for a boycott that does not harm the livelihoods of simple workers, as they too are struggling to make ends meet in the face of challenging economic conditions and limited alternative job opportunities. He concludes by emphasizing the importance of achieving justice while balancing the need to express solidarity with the people of Gaza.

Source: Jordan News Agency