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French Version

Jordanís World Trade Week 2003 : Highlights significance of FTA relations with US

Jordan and the United States are celebrating the first anniversary of the launching of their Free Trade Agreement on 17 December.

The occasion is marked by the first annual meeting of the Jordanian-US joint committee in Washington. The meeting included high-level discussions between Jordanian and American officials and business people, focusing on the best ways to promote mutual trade ties.

The meeting is aimed at assessing the work both countries accomplished over the past 12 months, concerning their bilateral trade and investments. His Majesty King Abdallah reiterated Wednesday the Kingdomís potential for making use of its trade agreement with the US for the benefit of all Jordanians by achieving a sustainable social and economic development.

Trade volume between Jordan and the US increased dramatically this year to more than $500 million. About 90 percent were exports made through the Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) estimated at $400 million. The Jordan-US FTA is seen as the lynchpin of the World Trade Week that will take place next year in the United States. The eight-day event will be launched in June and is expected to bring together hundreds of representatives from the private and public sectors in Jordan and abroad.

World Trade Coalition, organizers of the World Trade Week in the US, believe the event is Jordanís prime opportunity to promote national trade ties with the US and other world markets. "Jordan is Everywhere" is the trade weekís main theme to underscore the fact that Jordanian products are already available in world markets. World Trade Week is an annual trade event held in several US states to promote global trade relations. The coalition of the World Trade WeekóJordan, is a body of over 20 Jordanian business associations representing the private and public sectors in the Kingdom. It promotes the fact that such trade events help in building Jordanís export capacity, providing local companies with the required practical guidance on how to employ the best of their potentials to gain better revenues from global trade.

Minister of Trade and Industry Salah Al Bashir gave his support to next yearís event, showing much enthusiasm in promoting Jordanís exports worldwide. By calling Jordanís trade week in the US as "window of opportunity", the minister said next yearís event comes at a time when the Kingdom is enjoying special trade preferences with the major economic powers in the world. "Exports are key to business growth, and business growth translates into more jobs and improved standards of living for Jordanians," Al Bashir said last week. "It is critically important that more Jordanian businesses learn how to take advantage of the opportunities created by Jordanís favorable trade agreements."

Edward Gnehm, US Ambassador to Jordan, said American businessmen and investors have become more interested in Jordanís economy. He noted US exports to the Kingdom increased by 14 percent this year, while Jordanís exports to the US also increased by 72 percent. Gnehm pointed US interest in its trade with Jordan comes at the expense of the USís international trade relations, which is presently in gradual recession. Gnehm emphasized Jordanís trade week in the US in 2003 will certainly boost her growing profile as a hub for trade and investment. This, Gnehm added, will set a new and dynamic trend in the region. "The most impressive success story has been the growth in QIZs exports to the United States...providing 30,000 jobs for Jordanians," he explained. "We have had great success in the United States in promoting awareness of opportunities to be found through expanded trade in the World Trade Week activities."

Halim Abu Rahmeh, president of the Amman World Trade Center and co-chairman of the World Trade Coalition, said the event next year promotes Jordanís trade opportunities signified by the Free Trade Agreement. It is a platform of training awareness and business matchmaking to make the manufacturing and services sectors in Jordan compete in world markets, Abu Rahmeh said. Samer Asfour, AWTC director-general and co-chairman of the World Trade Coalition, noted that Jordanís recent trade agreements with the US and Europe paved way to more than 850 million consumers in the world to deal with Jordanian products. Asfour took part in a 10-day study tour to the US earlier this month, aimed at cultivating trade partnerships between the private sectors in Jordan and the US.

The tour helped members of delegation to learn more from the vast US experience in the growth of its trade sector. The tour, which is supported by the AMIR program, featured the participation of several Jordanian business associations. Besides the AWTC, the delegation also included representatives of the Amman Chamber of Industry, Jordan Exporters Association, Jordan Intellectual Property Association and the Jordan Association of Pharmaceuticals Manufacturers.

Ghassan Joha
The Star

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