Jordanian policy makers must promote the Kingdom as a base for regional business to attract investments, an expert said Thursday.

Speaking at a conference titled “Investing in the Levant: New Opportunities” Mercury Vice Chairman Adam Ereli told around 150 executives from Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey attending the economic conference that investors want to put money in large markets where they can sell and generate good returns.

“As such, Jordan’s strategy to attract investment should be one that encompasses the Middle East including the Palestinian Territories,” he said.

According to Ereli, also a former US ambassador to Bahrain, Jordan has the potential to be a regional business hub because it enjoys the stability and security that is lacking at present in the Middle East besides the competitive economic environment.

He noted that Iraq will not be able to sell for the next ten years and Jordan has an opportunity to capitalise on that by inviting investors to take advantage of a large market.

He also pointed to legal protection as a big plus for the Kingdom noting that a foreign-owned cement company in Egypt was rattled in the past years with a court decision to annul the privatisation deal under which the foreign investment was made.

Carol Malouf, chief executive officer of Macarlea Advisory Group, proposed that Jordanian decision-makers go on a wide-ranging global marketing offensive to highlight the Kingdom’s political, legislative, economic and financial strengths. 

The conference, organised by Financial Times Live and Macarlea Advisory Group, was opened by Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, deputising for His Majesty King Abdullah.

Ensour said the regional developments gave room to investment opportunities and generated interest among foreign investors in the Middle East.      

The prime minister stressed that the government is determined to maintain macroeconomic stability that guarantees sustainable growth despite the challenges arising from the flow of Syrian refugees who are placing an increasing pressure on infrastructure services, health, education, energy, waste management, financial resources and labour market.

“Jordan deserves the good reputation it has acquired as a stable country, particularly in these troubled times, and also the trust of investors who still view it as a business destination and a possible gateway to larger markets,” he said.

He added that the government is still pressing ahead with administrative and legislative reforms to facilitate procedures, and make the investment environment more attractive, emphasising that the objective is to enhance the role of the private sector and boost economic competitiveness.

The prime minister mentioned information technology, telecommunications, pharmaceutical industry, medical tourism and energy as promising sectors for investments.

He said that a special priority now is supporting the small and medium-size enterprises within a drive to lower a 12 per cent unemployment rate.