The Cabinet has endorsed three out of 12 bylaws that will govern the planned Special Economic Zone in Aqaba, scheduled to start operating by January 2001. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Affairs Mohammad Halaiqa said on Thursday: “We ratified on Tuesday the three bylaws on administrative and financial regulations as well as entry visa procedures and requirements for the SEZ.”
According to the minister, the SEZ management “is embarking on intensive meetings to finalize the legislative ground for the economic zone on schedule.”
The SEZ project is designed to reshape Jordan's sole maritime outlet as a low tax economic zone (seven percent) to attract $6 billion in investments in tourism, information technology, industry, commerce and services. Officials hope it will create around 70,000 jobs, and thus ease the unemployment rate, estimated by the government to be 13.4 percent.
Initial studies predict that at least 50 percent of the investments in Aqaba will be channeled to the tourism sector. Since the announcement to establish the SEZ, potential investors in the tourism and industrial fields have indicated project interests estimated to value around $1.2 billion.
In recent months the SEZ Council of Commissioners signed several investment deals worth $500 million with foreign and local firms interested in constructing facilities for around 2,000 hotel rooms, a golf course, a racing harbor and handicrafts zone. — ( Jordan Times )
By Saad G. Hattar
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)