The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan took a leap toward what it hopes will be economic order and the path to salvation, by gaining accession to the World Trade Organization.
With Jordan "joining the club", half of the 12 Arab nations in the region are now members of the body. The WTO shields governments from facing lobbying, and stimulates increased choice in products and services. In recent years, the Jordanian government sought cooperation from foreign governments and international organizations to forgive its massive debt to unburden the nation.
Jordan, the 136th member of the Geneva-headquartered organization, gained entry into the WTO after the Parliament in Amman ratified the membership agreement. Jordan's entry was delayed by several weeks, following the collapse of a WTO meeting in Seattle, Washington, in December 1999, the Jordan Times reported. While the fate of Jordanian membership was decided late last year, it only took effect Tuesday, following the finalization of several formalities.
According to a WTO press release, officials in the Kingdom greeted the membership as a potential turning point for the troubled economy, which has moved toward domestic liberalization and more open trading with the world. "This is truly a historical moment for Jordan, as we have long aspired to become a member of the WTO," said Dr. M. Halaiqah, Chief Negotiator and Secretary General of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Jordan.
Existing WTO member states found promise in Jordan's commitment to implement the opening of its markets for goods and services without the phase-in periods that are typically sought. Jordan also signed on two treaties common among WTO members, one for trade and civil aircraft, the other on government procurement. Jordan's chief merchandise exports include phosphate, chemicals and potash, while it mainly imports transport equipment, crude oil and machinery. Its major trading partners are other Arab nations as well as the European Union.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )