His Majesty King Abdullah is scheduled to kick off on April 19 an international investment campaign for the special economic zone at the country's sole maritime outlet, officials said on Saturday, March 17. The “official launching campaign,” coming two months after the soft opening of Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ), will host nearly 200 businessmen and potential investors.
ASEZ Commissioner for Investor and Economic Development Imad Fakhouri said the gathering in Aqaba next month will officially set the stage for heavyweight investment. International “developers” of huge projects will be invited to the official launching, which will set the terms of reference and scope of work for the projected “developer.” “We are drafting soliciting documents which will contain the statement of requirement for a potential developer,” Fakhouri told the Jordan Times.
Parallel to this work, the ASEZ five-member Board of Commissioners “is preparing a list of internationally-renowned companies so that it can invite them to bid on projects in the ASEZ,” he added. The government, whose overall investment in Aqaba hovers around $500 million, has envisaged the appointment of a specialized “master developer” to invest in infrastructure and promote the ASEZ worldwide.
The “developer,” a shareholding private enterprise, should operate under a public-private partnership agreement with the board of commissioners. With an expected capital of $100 to $200 million, the developer will be the propelling force within a “strategic consortium” along with national, Arab and foreign investors. Fakhouri said he expected a “master developer” to be chosen by next August following a “transparent bidding process.”
So far, 230 firms have set anchor in the ASEZ since the beginning of the year, taking advantage of a 7 percent sales tax and a flat 5 percent income tax. Fakhouri said the ASEZ — which set in motion a host of legislative, administrative and legal legislation — needed time to finalise the infrastructure in cooperation with the “developer.”
The government expects the 380-square kms zone to attract $6 billion in foreign investments and create 70,000 jobs over the next two decades. — ( Jordan Times )
By Saad G. Hattar
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)