A 35-member business delegation will head to Saudi Arabia next week on a four-day trip to encourage Saudi business people to explore joint ventures with their Jordanian counterparts. The visit is organized by the Jordan Investment Board (JIB) in attempts to promote the Kingdom in the Saudi market.
Minister of Trade and Industry Wasif Azar said that Jordan is seeking to enhance the trade balance between Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which is currently swayed in the latter's favor. “Our trade ties with Saudi Arabia are good to some extent, but they need further development,” Azar said late Wednesday, January 31. “Our aim is to increase joint ventures by providing Saudis with incentives.”
The minister noted, during a meeting with the business group who represent the industrial and services sectors at the JIB headquarters, that he wants Saudi businesspeople to be fully convinced of the investment opportunities and incentives in the country. He stressed that the country is open to joint ventures without any restrictions. Othman Bdeir, chairman of the Amman Chamber of Industry said Saudi businesspeople prefer to export manufactured goods rather than investing in Jordan as their government provides them land at a nominal fee and loans at reduced interest rates. He stressed that despite such incentives, Jordan represents an attractive business environment as it is a signatory to the Jordanian-European Partnership Agreement and has signed a Free Trade Agreement with the US last October.
Industrialists in the Kingdom have long complained that Saudi products are flooding the market and competing with locally-manufactured products. Such items include dairy products, chips, chocolates and biscuits. Fahed Fanek, a prominent economist, noted in a local daily recently that Jordan has become a consumption-oriented market for Saudi goods. He said that during the first nine months of last year, Saudi Arabia imported JD68 million worth of Jordanian goods.
Saudi exports to the Kingdom during the same period amounted to JD81 million. Fanek wrote that Saudi industries enjoy an unfair advantage as Saudi Arabia has very low fuel and energy costs. He said industries enjoy government support and are exempt from taxes and fees on industrial inputs and revenues.
Saudi Arabia slapped a ban on agricultural imports from Jordan in 1993 for an alleged water contamination problem. Azar said Minister of Agriculture Zuheir Zannouneh is expected to visit the oil-rich state to try and show the Saudis that Jordan's agricultural products are of good quality and that Jordanian farmers do not use wastewater to irrigate their crops. Both countries are also expected to sign a land transport deal to regulate land transportation. — ( Jordan Times )
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )