At the Meeting of the Jordan Investment Forum
31 October 2007
I am delighted to see all of you here today. On behalf of the entire Jordan delegation, thank you for joining us. Let me say, I consider this Forum to be a major event in our current visit to China. Our countries are building a partnership that is productive and rewarding, for both sides. And business leaders like you are vital to that success. Chairman, allow me to extend my special gratitude to you, and your entire team at the Council for the Promotion of International Trade.
We meet at an important time in the economic history of both our countries. China and Jordan are both on a dynamic path of reform. And we in Jordan look to China's experience as a significant development model. We especially recognise the contributions of China's business community ... not only as a driver of growth ... but as a conduit to the benefits of the global economy. In this and many other ways, we see tremendous parallels with our own goals and efforts. And we are committed to supporting and advancing Jordan's private-sector activity and success.
In our national strategy, we have targeted key areas to support opportunity and growth. One priority is Jordan's human-resource base. We are therefore investing heavily in education. We've put special emphasis on market-oriented training - vocational and technical skills - to provide employers a capable and ready workforce.
Another priority is a positive business environment. Legislative reforms have facilitated business activity, including regulatory standards in line with international practices. And we are reviewing laws on an ongoing basis, to ensure transparency and fairness.
A third priority is to leverage our strategic central location in West Asia, to help Jordan-based business reach the 300 million people of the Arab World, and millions more in other major markets. Jordan is a member of the World Trade Organisation and has free-trade status with the US, the EU, the Greater Arab Free Trade economies, and Singapore. We are discussing Free Trade Area Agreements with Turkey and Canada as well. Special economic development zones provide duty- and quota-free access to major markets. The Aqaba Special Economic Zone takes advantage of Aqaba's deep-water port and international air links. Economic Zones in Mafraq and Irbid in the North, and in Maan in the South, will expand our platforms for manufacturing and industrial production and export.
These and other policies and initiatives are already delivering results. Jordan's economy has seen steady, strong growth, averaging 6.5 per cent per year over the last five years. Exports have tripled in the last eight years. As you might already have heard, foreign investment jumped from less than $400 million four years ago, to more than $2.5 billion last year; and we are on track to exceed that figure this year.
Meanwhile, we are dealing pro-actively to overcome our limited natural resources. By better managing water resources, and increasing supply through desalination, while providing new solar, wind, and nuclear energy sources, Jordan's future development will be secured.
We are looking forward to China's participation and partnership in this future. To advance such efforts, I'm pleased to say the Jordan Investment Board is establishing an office in Beijing. This evening, Jordan and Chinese enterprises will sign major agreements targeting manufacturing and assembly, construction, IT, and more.
I am confident that today's meeting will open new doors for all your companies, and for ours - to find exciting opportunities to grow and prosper. Your success will benefit the peoples and futures of both our countries.
Again, allow me to thank you for your participation today, and for your partnership now and in the days ahead. I look forward to welcoming you all in Jordan soon.