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French Version

King Abdallah brings ambassadors home for economic summit

Jordanian ambassadors enlisted to expand economic development.
The Kingdom witnessed an unprecedented event earlier this month.

The Kingdom witnessed an unprecedented event earlier this month when 60 Jordanian ambassadors were brought back to the Kingdom for a gathering intended to focus Jordanian diplomacy on the betterment of the Kingdom's economy.
His Majesty King Abdallah explaining politics and economy should work hand in hand for Jordan, bolstering the Kingdom's economic outlook by encouraging the world to utilize the political and economic stability Jordan enjoys.

"The time has come for Jordanian ambassadors to take a role in the economic development plan," said the King in his address to the Jordanian Ambassadors Conference in Amman last week. "I strongly believe our embassies in the world can help move Jordan's economic interests forward together with our political aims."

Although the Kingdom struggles in an unsettled regional political environment, all indicators show Jordan has the potential to bring more international investment and trade partnership due to the Kingdom's advanced economic infrastructure and the incentives provided to foreign investors.

Turki Al Khraisha, Jordanian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, noted some 70 percent of an ambassador's mission is economics-oriented: "Jordanian ambassadors have a critical mission today to develop economic potential."

Al Khraisha said a new bilateral company, with JD 50 million in capital, was in development between the UAE and Jordan. The company will be co-chaired by HRH Prince Faisal and his counterpart in the UAE. The UAE government will hold a 75 percent share in the company. Al Khraisha explained the project was suggested long ago as part of the development of Jordan-Gulf trade relations.

"I believe the UAE is one of Jordan's most important partners in the world," Al Khraisha pointed out. "We must take advantage of its openness to the world economy and employ our expertise to attract more mutual investments." He noted the new company intended to employ Jordanian expertise in different economic fields, notably tourism and industry and promote bilateral trade relations on both sides. Jordan-UAE trade development shows growth in the local economy that suggests a strong and stable economic infrastructure in the Kingdom, said Dr Bassam Saket, president of the Jordan Securities Commission.

The Amman Stock Exchange (ASE) is another example of the Kingdom's economic stability. Saket said the capital market in Jordan has grown rapidly over the last two decades to become one of the most reliable and well-developed financial markets in the Middle East.

"This year's market trade volume is much larger than the gross volume of 2001," he noted. In only the first seven months of 2002 ASE volume exceeded JD 733 million. Last year's trade never reached JD 700 million. The market's index also achieved a landmark feat this year cresting over the 190-point mark for the first time in ASE's 21-year history.

"The stock exchange is a mirror on the state of the Kingdom's corporate stability, and the economy in general," said Saket, adding near half the capital market is owned by non-Jordanian investors. The King stressed, "Jordan's foreign policy aims to balance the Kingdom's interests with respect of other countries' interests." He called on the Jordanian envoys to rehabilitate their economic role so they could help sustain Jordan's position.

Some observers believe the mission presented to the Jordanian envoys will be a difficult one to achieve. "It is not a matter of it being a difficult or easy mission," replied Dina Kawar, the Jordanian Ambassador to France. "It is a part of the effort every ambassador must carry out to promote their country's image," she added. Ambassador's efforts will include the launching of promotional campaigns and direct contact with all economic sectors in host countries.

Local economists and investors have also seized upon the opportunity of bringing Jordanian ambassadors home to exchange views and ideas on the potential trade partnerships abroad.

Many ambassadors have admitted surprise at the rapid economic development Jordan has witnessed over the last few years.

"I have been in China for the last three years. Every time I arrive home I discover something new," said Rajab Sukayri, Jordan's ambassador to Beijing. "During my time there, I receive frequent applications for investment in Jordan. Many Chinese businessmen and investors ask about the Aqaba Special Economic Zone and the Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZs) in Jordan," explained Sukayri, who has launched promotional campaigns about Jordan during visits to 30 Chinese cities.

China's powerful economy has great potential for Jordan. Trade volume between Jordan and China is estimated at $280 million, tipping largely in favor of the Chinese. Although there is no specific numbers for the amount of Chinese investment in Jordan, a great deal of development is evident in the QIZs and privately-owned projects.

Sukayri said the door is still open for Jordanian businessmen to build new trade partnerships with Chinese counterparts.

Saket continued, saying transparency and constant development were essential for economic growth. "The capital market in Jordan," he said, "is fundamental for Jordan's new economy. The role of our ambassadors is to enhance the potential for growth, spreading the Kingdom's benefits beyond the borders to orient the international community about incentives for foreign investment."

Ghassan Joha
The Star

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