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Business Scene

The government authorized the Fair Competition Law, which is expected to be officially effective on 1 August. The law helps the government to fight business monopolies and trade imbalances.

* The government authorized the Fair Competition Law, which is expected to be officially effective on 1 August. The law helps the government to fight business monopolies and trade imbalances. Minister of Trade and Industry Samer Al Tawil said the law guards against monopoly practices and business misconducts. Companies charged with monopoly will be fined five percent of the sales they made illegally. Al Tawil noted the government is working on another law concerning consumer protection.

* Al Hasan Industrial Zone in Irbid made $128.5 million in revenues in the first half of 2002. In June, the zone exported $26 million worth of goods. Three new factories were established in the zone last month at a total capital of JD 3 million ($4.2 million). Textiles were the zone's biggest exports for 2002 at $107 million, followed by engineering-related industries and agricultural exports. The zone is expected to witness more investments later this year.

* The World Bank is discussing ways to employ its money in some of Jordan's major projects. These include the Disi water project, the oil pipeline with Iraq and the Dead Sea-Red Sea water channel. Jordan's annual loans from the World Bank is $300 million. These loans are used to support the Kingdom's public reforms and social development.

* A new free industrial estate was launched in the Jordan Valley this week. The estate is located on an area of 700 dunums in the northern valley and expected to attract more than $67 million in investments and provide 12,500 jobs. The project is part of a broad development plan for the Jordan Valley, which is expected to involve Palestinian and Israeli investors later on.

* Jordanian merchants lost more than $4 million in trade opportunities because of their ignorance of the potential trade provided by the US-Jordan Free Trade Agreement. A recent study by the Ministry of Trade and Industry noted local merchants are paying much custom duties on their exports more than necessary. About 30 percent of the custom duties are overpaid every month because of merchants' illiteracy. The study said an awareness campaign is required to help Jordanian manufacturers and merchants to take advantage of the trade relations with the US. The Ministry established a bureau at the Industrial Development Dept, to provide help for these manufacturers.

* Jordanian farmers are still walking the tightrope. The Jordan Farmers Association announced last week the farmers are enduring more than JD 230 million in debts. These debts, the association said, accumulated since 1990. Farmers criticize the government for its reluctance to support them financially. The Association asked the government to establish a national agricultural marketing company to help local farmers to market their products properly. It also appealed for having a national company that takes care of the production requirements, which may help farmers to obtain these requirements at affordable costs. The association didn't mention how the farmers will repay their debts.

* Japanese investors are planning to have new businesses in the Aqaba Special Economic Zone and Jordan's Qualified Industrial Zones. These businesses were highlighted through the recent visit of His Majesty King Abdallah to Japan earlier this month. Many Jordanian companies have succeeded in reaching agreements with Japanese counterparts to export their products to Japan, including marble and Dead Sea products. These exports are expected to exceed more than $1.5 million for this year.

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