At the French Confederation of Business Enterprises (MEDEF) Summer University
27 August 2008
Madame la Présidente,
Mesdames et Messieurs,
Je suis très heureux de me retrouver aujourd'hui avec vous. Je ressens, Madame la Présidente, le grand honneur que vous me faites, d'être le premier Chef d'Etat étranger invité à s'exprimer devant cette auguste assemblée. Mes amis, de la part de tous les Jordaniens, je voudrais vous remercier, vous toutes et vous tous, pour la chaleur de votre accueil.Avec votre permission et votre indulgence, je continue en Anglais.
The theme of this Summer University is: “voir en grand.” To see beyond the limits of old assumptions, old realities. To think boldly about today's economic challenges and the opportunities. And then to act by expanding the horizons to create new possibilities for a prosperous future.
No group has a more important role in that future, than the French enterprises that you represent. Later this afternoon, your conference is scheduled to discuss some of today's global economic giants. But I say that entrepreneurs, in companies large and small, are the real giants – the innovators, the producers, the creators of opportunity. And not just for France; not just for Europe; but for the entire Mediterranean circle, of which our countries are a part.
It is you, who have led the global economic revolution – through industries, technologies and mechanisms that did not even exist twenty years ago.
It is you, who drive wealth-creating trade and investment vital to progress, profit, and jobs.
And it is you, who can help lead solutions to our world's great challenges: sustainable energy to meet rising demand, a “green” global economy, answers to water scarcities and a solution to the world's economic inequities.
These and other urgent matters, obviously, do not concern business alone. In simple fact, the healthy economies that you in the private sector seek, go hand-in-hand with the aims of good governance and civil society: prosperity, security, and peace. Our goals cross all borders. Our efforts must be equally comprehensive. I speak of the tremendous power of partnership – combining the talents of private enterprise, public service, and civic institutions.
The question must be asked: what can we do to facilitate success and support the economic activity that builds opportunity? How can we build an infrastructure for innovation and achievement? What is required to remove barriers to cooperation?
In the last ten years, Jordan has forged a national strategy to achieve these goals. We will not allow regional instability and crisis to shape our future. Jordanians have spoken up clearly for moderation and peace. We have helped lead regional reform and economic integration. I and many others have worked for global dialogue across cultures. And at home, Jordan has made the hard decisions: for deep, structural reforms, good governance sound fiscal and monetary policy and economic liberalisation.
For us, the private sector is key. The jobs that our people need require sustainable, trade-led economic growth. The path began as we shed the heavy economic legacy of the past. In recent years, Jordan has privatised about nine-tenths of our government-owned enterprises. And we have sharply reduced external debt. Five years ago it equalled more than three-quarters of our GDP. By the first quarter of this year, it had dropped to less than a third. Let me express my special gratitude for all France did to support success, in the recent Paris Club debt buyback.
These steps enhance conditions for private investment – and also free up resources for sound public investments in infrastructure and development. We are also expanding business opportunities, through special economic and development zones in Aqaba and across the country. An extensive network of free-trade agreements provide access to customers worldwide. Among our most important global partners is Europe, and we look forward to deepening this relationship, within the context of the Union of the Mediterranean.
And there is more. In legislation and regulatory policy, Jordan's national strategy has strongly encouraged new and expanding business and investment. The goal is to let government do what government is supposed to do – to regulate for the public good, not to manage private enterprise; not to constrain economic growth. Enabling laws, and transparency policies, have created positive conditions for investment. In banking, you will find Jordan's disclosure requirements in line with best practices worldwide.
What is Jordan's interest in all this? In a word: our youth. More than half of all Jordanians are 18 or younger. They are among the world's most aware, most aspiring young people. My country is determined to help them succeed – to build productive, positive lives and be part of global progress. For that future to happen, we want to make good jobs ready for our young people. And we are making our young people ready for those good jobs. Jordan has made a national investment in education and training for market-ready skills. Innovation and partnership have driven our efforts. Jordanian technology companies, along with global industry leaders, have helped create new curricula for schools across the country. I am proud to say this initiative is now serving as an international model.
Jordan's reforms and development initiatives have already achieved results. The reality and promise are recognised by our number-one investors: the French. Over the last ten years, French investments in Jordan have increased tenfold and now top $1 billion dollars. French companies are active across the Jordanian economy - France Telecom, LaFarge, Aeroport De Paris, Suez, and more. One vital area of cooperation is energy. Later today, President Sarkozy and I shall witness a new protocol between our countries, implementing nuclear cooperation. And soon, Jordan will be signing an agreement with AREVA, for uranium exploration.
For these and many other opportunities, the time has come - in tourism, water, transport, pharmaceuticals, downstream industries, and more. It is my hope that many more French enterprises will join with us, meet challenges, and create benefit for all.
You will find Jordan a willing partner. My country has staked its future on a Middle East that participates fully in the progress of the world. I believe that our success will help build an expanding circle of cooperation, achievement, and security.
The Jordan experience demonstrates the strength of stability and moderation. But for my region as a whole, ongoing crises remain a threat - especially at the core. Until there is justice for Palestinians, a highly strategic region will be held back by division, trust between the Muslim world and the West will be vulnerable and the forces of extremism will find more fuel for their agenda of conflict.
In business, success comes from positive action, at the right moment, to seize opportunities and shape the market. In just the same way, the friends of my region must seize the opportunities to change the strategic environment. I urge you all, to stand behind the region's forces of moderation, to fulfil shared values of justice and law and to validate the tremendous potential of our partnership.
I deeply appreciate the invitation to be with you today. Allow me to welcome the MEDEF international delegation that will come to Jordan next December. I hope that all of you, here today, will also find time to visit my country.
Together, I believe we can re-envision our neighbourhood: a circle of dynamic promise, where stability and hope replace conflict and fear; where two regions act as one to advance prosperity and peace.
Let it begin now, with “voir en large”.
To see across borders – to a partnership energised by our shared strength.
To see a new era of expansion – of global prosperity and good will.
Conclure en Français est definitivement imperatif: Je vous remercie infiniment pour votre attention.