Aqaba SEZ to be declared January 1
The formal declaration of Aqaba as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) will take place as planned on January 1, according to Mohammad Kalaldeh, head of the SEZ council of commissioners. Kalaldeh announced that merchants and importers of goods on which customs duty has already been paid will be allowed to keep their goods stored in the free zone warehouses for a renewable period of three months to clear them without paying storage fees.
In remarks during a meeting of the commissioners held in Aqaba, Kalaldeh said the month of January will serve as an interim period during which the government is expected to finalize five outstanding regulations and bylaws governing SEZ operations that are currently under discussion by the legislation bureau of the prime ministry. These include sales tax, income tax, customs regulations, audit system and licensing regulations. The cabinet already approved another set of regulations earlier this month.
The SEZ initiative is designed to reshape Jordan's sole maritime outlet into a low tax economic zone to attract $6 billion in investments in industry, services and commerce, particularly tourism and information technology.
Officials hope the SEZ will create 70,000 jobs to ease the Kingdom's unemployment problem. Initial studies have predicted that at least 50 percent of investments in the SEZ will be channeled to the tourism sector.
According to Kalaldeh, the council of commissioners has appointed cadres to run the SEZ on the basis of qualifications and expertise, giving priority as far as possible to inhabitants of southern Jordan.
Referring to facilities and incentives for Arab and foreign investors, Kalaldeh said that next month the council will announce the procedures for registration of companies and institutions wishing to launch activities in the zone.
Also next month, according to Kalaldeh's deputy Mohammad Balqar, the SEZ will launch an ambitious international campaign to market Jordan's tourist attractions. — ( Jordan Times )
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)