At the Confederation of Spanish Industry
21 October 1999
Your Excellency Mr Cuevas,
Distinguished Members of the Confederation of Spanish Industry,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me first to express my sincere gratitude for your kind invitation to be with you here today. It is very much my privilege to meet with you, to listen to your advice, and to share with you the vision that we hold for the future of our country.
Jordan, both in its public and private sectors, has a lot to learn from Spain: lessons of integration within your European environment, policies that are private-sector friendly and that attract investments, and measures designed to enhance growth and prosperity. We hope that the nascent cooperation between your confederation and your counterpart organisations in Jordan will develop further, in order for true partnership to evolve between our two countries.
As for the vision that we hold, let me assure you first and foremost that our commitment to economic reform is as sacrosanct as our respect for democracy and our protection of the integrity of the judicial system. These are, Ladies and Gentlemen, the three pillars that we regard as the basis for achieving sustainable economic growth.
We have identified the competitive advantages in our economy: in mining, tourism and services. We have also adopted information technology as our new national sector, thus capitalising on our talented and educated manpower. In the past few months, we have accelerated the process of the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector, enacted legislation aimed at the protection of intellectual property rights, and introduced policies and measures that encourage investments in this sector. At the heart of these efforts lies our quest to ensure that growth in the economy is sustained through the export of Jordanian goods and services. The Qualifying Industrial Zones, which provide for non-reciprocal free trade with the United States market, represent another opportunity for investments. Additionally, our accession to the World Trade Organisation, expected to be finalised before the end of this year, would also provide a further advantage to investors in our country.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The historically excellent relations between Jordan and Spain will undoubtedly witness substantive progress through the coming into force of the Association Agreement signed between Jordan and the European Union. This framework, recently ratified by both the Spanish and Jordanian Parliaments, will enhance prospects of investments in Jordan by Spanish companies. The purpose for the establishment of a Free Trade Area Agreement between Jordan and the EU has always been to promote the establishment of joint ventures between Spanish and Jordanian companies in export-oriented industries. This would expand the scope of trade between our small economy and the giant European bloc.
Today, I would like to add my support to all the efforts in this regard, for this falls within our general strategy of encouraging direct capital investments that will transfer technology and increase exports. Let me also assure you that as part of our side of the bargain, we are continuously reviewing the incentives provided to investors through exemptions from taxes and customs duties in order to make them more responsive to their concerns.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The establishment of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in our part of the world would provide the necessary condition for attracting large-scale investments in our region. Long deprived of the opportunity to meaningfully participate in the global economy, it is time for the Middle East countries to adopt a new mission of economic development and technological progress.
We in Jordan are intent on focusing on a domestic agenda of economic reform that would pave the ground for a new set of interregional economic relations.
At the end of the 19th century, visions were formulated to divide the Middle East into separate rival states intent on undermining each other. It has taken us over one hundred years to realise that cooperation and integration must replace conflict and tension.
Again, let me repeat my welcome to you to participate with us in the realisation of our vision for Jordan and for the region. We look forward to welcoming you there, and I hope that your regular meetings with your Jordanian counterparts will prove to be productive and fruitful.
Thank you for your attention.