Official: Jordanian economy is a “rising star” in a difficult regional market
The US-Jordan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and qualifying industrial zones (QIZs) are helping Jordan create a growing and stable economy that could serve as a model for other countries in the Middle East, according to US and Jordanian speakers at a Washington investment forum held on October 16, 2003, reported Washington File.
"Jordan is a rising star in a difficult regional market" with new business sectors being added to the economy, said chief commissioner of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, parent of the Aqaba Industrial Estate, Akel Biltaji.
The United States established QIZs in Jordan to support the peace process in the Middle East after Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1996. The US Congress mandated them and the US Agency for International Development contributed funds for their construction. Goods from these zones can be exported duty and quota free to the United States.
Aqaba, at the southern tip of Jordan on the Red Sea, is a self-sustaining industrial, commercial and financial center, Biltaji said. The area also is rapidly developing as a tourist center, he added.
Jordan's QIZs have also received financing from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), an arm of the World Bank that finances private sector projects in the developing world and helps private companies mobilize additional financing from international markets.
Stressing the importance of involving as many Jordanians as possible in the new jobs of the country's growing economy, Biltaji said that when local, employed people are confident in their economy, foreign investment will follow.
Jordan's 11 QIZs have given Jordanians “lots of jobs in a short period” said managing director of textile firm Specialized Compounds, Halim Salfiti. Salfiti said the export advantages offered by QIZs and the free trade agreement reduce production costs, which translates into more jobs. Most of the workers in QIZs are from underprivileged areas, added Salfiti.
In addition, Jordan is becoming recognized as a popular destination for medical tourism, he said. The term refers to the practice of traveling to receive medical treatment in countries where it is less expensive than in the traveler's home country.
The US government has supported Jordan's economic reforms by negotiating a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement and a Bilateral Investment Treaty prior to the Free Trade Agreement, which came into effect in December 2002. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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