A Korean trade delegation to the Middle East arrived here on Thursday to explore investment opportunities in the region. Fifteen Korean company representatives from the South Korean Taegu City, an industrial city focusing on textile, textile machinery, optical frames and automotive parts, held talks on future trade exchange with their Jordanian counterparts.
A local businessman, who met three company representatives, said there was enough information provided from each of the companies to warrant further inquires. “I will follow-up with a hydraulic breaker company, and this is only a primary step to future business dealings with Korea,” Abbad Isbaitan, Jerusalem Trading Equipment Corp. owner, told the Jordan Times.
“Taegu representatives look forward to future interaction, especially that Jordan is the hub of the region; a gateway to the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe,” Higab Moon, Taegu mayor, told the Jordan Times. “Once Jordan signs the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US, investment opportunities will increase,” he added.
Prime Minister Ali Abul Ragheb, following a meeting with US Ambassador William Burns, announced on Thursday that Jordan would sign the agreement on October 24. Jordan would be the fourth country to sign a Free Trade Agreement with the US and according to Moon, “once it does there will be a great leap in direct investment in the country.”
The delegation is expected to visit on October 22 the Al Hassan Industrial Estates — the first Qualifying Industrial Zone (QIZ) in the Kingdom — to explore future investments. “The Korean delegation will visit Boscan International, one of the biggest companies there, to embark on their experience in the estate, as well as study the possibility of investing there,” Sameh Rahhal, Korea Trade Center assistant manager, told the Jordan Times.
Boscan International, which currently employs 2,000 Jordanians and around 1,100 Chinese workers, has three plants that manufacture blue jeans and luggage for export to the US. Officials earlier this year said the company is planning to increase its investment in the Kingdom. They said that in 2001, Boscan International would have invested about $120 million by establishing 12 factories specialized in light industry manufacturing in which 20,000 people will be working.
Boscan chairman, Charlie Chang, said that his company was interested in continuing to setup joint ventures or projects in the Kingdom. “We are a pioneering firm in Jordan, we believe in the QIZ system in Jordan and the ability of Jordanian workers. We are looking at Jordan for the long-term.”
The delegation will next head to Cairo, Riyadh and Kuwait as part of their trade mission to the Middle East. Earlier on Thursday, the Jordanian Businessmen Association president, Hamdi Tabba, as well as the deputy president, Thabet Taher, discussed further trade cooperation with the South Korean ambassador to Jordan, Jong Haa Choe.
Talking about the signing of an FTA with the US, Tabba emphasized how the agreement would facilitate exports to the US markets. The South Korean ambassador expressed his country's interest in exploiting any channels to get Korean exports to the US markets, including the agreement between Jordan and the US.
Tabba also named some successful Korean investment projects in the industrial zone in Aqaba.
Imports from Korea in 1999 amount to 114 million Jordanian dinars (JD), and JD82 million until August 2000, while exports to Korea in 1999 amounted to JD8.3 million, and JD4.6 million until August this year. — ( Jordan Times )
By Dana Abu Sham
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)