- Published on Tuesday, 15 May 2012 09:10
Monday, 14th May, commenting on Yesterday's export of garments from Gaza, the British Consul General in Jerusalem, Sir Vincent Fean, said:
"I welcome yesterday's news of the first export of textile goods from Gaza to the UK since 2007. The export of 2000 garments from the Ashour Company, a leading knitwear producer in Gaza, to a UK outlet is a great success for Gazan business. This success was made possible by the technical and financial support provided by the UK Department for International Development through the Palestinian Facility for New Market Development (FNMD). In the past four years, the UK has provided support through FNMD to over 340 companies in Gaza to help them rebuild operations and expand their businesses, helping create jobs for over 1,600 Gazans.
I would like to express my gratitude to Lord Stone and the Office of the Quartet Representative for their help in facilitating these exports.
While the UK will never underestimate the security needs of Israel, it is our firm belief that economic prosperity in Gaza is the surest way to achieve that security, through undermining the tunnel economy. This development marks a further step by Israel towards fulfilling its commitment to allow economic development for the 1.6 million people in Gaza, and I hope that further such exports will be permitted at a sustained level not only to the UK, but also to Israel and the West Bank – the natural markets for Gaza products."
The Minister for International Development, Alan Duncan MP, welcomed this news, saying:
"Through trade, we can help Gaza rebuild its economy, providing opportunities for Gazans to pull themselves out of poverty and creating a safer and more secure environment for the Palestinians and for Israel.
While I am pleased that the UK has supported this important development for Gazan business, it is my hope that we quickly reach a stage where there is no longer a need for such assistance, because sustained exports from Gaza will be the norm."
1. Ashour Company was established in 1996 and is today considered one of the largest knitwear producing companies in Gaza, with annual sales in 2010 of USD 1.8 million. Between 2010 and 2012, Ashour Company received financial and technical assistance from the UK Department for International Development's Palestinian Facility for New Market Development (FNMD) to help it resume operations and build its capacities to access export markets. Financial assistance, provided by FNMD through a matching grant, was used to rebuild and maintain machinery shut down since 2007 – allowing Ashour Company to return to full operational capacity- and to purchase and train staff in new software to improve Ashour's product range and design. Technical assistance included the establishment of new pricing and costing systems and information on packaging, labelling and quality control standards.
2. The Palestinian Facility for New Market Development (FNMD) was launched by DFID in 2008 to provide financial support and technical advice to Palestinian businesses in both the West Bank and Gaza to compete in new markets, develop new products and re-launch operations. Between 2008 and 2011, FNMD assisted over 600 Palestinians companies in a wide range of sectors, generating over $100m in attributable sales and exports and providing 3,400 new permanent jobs to unemployed Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. FNMD is part of DFID's wider efforts to promote private sector development in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) as a means to develop the economy, reduce poverty and create conditions for longer-term sustainable peace in the region.
3. The export order for textile goods from Gaza to UK was facilitated by Lord Andrew Stone of Blackheath, the Office of the Quartet Representative (OQR) and the FNMD programme. Lord Stone is Director of Moon Valley Enterprises Ltd, an initiative to help Palestinian farmers access the UK fresh food market. In June 2011, the OQR and DFID organised a visit by Lord Stone to agricultural cooperatives and garment manufacturers in the Gaza Strip with the goal of facilitating exports to the UK retail market. As a result of the visit, an order for textiles was secured for Ashour Company from a UK retail outlet.
4. The Department for International Development supports UK Government objectives for a successful Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) by helping build Palestinian institutions and promoting economic growth, so that any future state will be stable, prosperous, well-run, and an effective partner for peace with Israel. DFID will provide £349 million in support of Palestinian development over the next four years.