London initiative serves as platform to promote Jordan as lucrative investment hub

Jordan’s reforms, investment potential and vision for creating jobs and driving economic growth were highlighted on February 28 at the  London initiative, which is a strong message of support to the Kingdom, according to Prime Minister Omar Razzaz.

“The initiative is a platform to present our plans and review our achievements and promote the Kingdom as a hub for lucrative investments in the region… we are not looking at this event in a traditional way and in terms of how many agreements will be signed, but rather as the start of a much more comprehensive and ongoing process to trigger growth and create jobs,” Razzaz told a media delegation late on February 26.

The London initiative, held under the theme “Jordan: Growth and Opportunity”, is the start of a long marathon that will be followed with several meetings with various groups of investors, Razzaz said, adding that it will be the beginning of intensive efforts by the Kingdom to present its economic narrative to the international community.

“It is an important event and it is a strong message of support to the Kingdom that the international community continues to stand by Jordan, and that we are following a clear path and it needs some patience,” said Razzaz.

The event was first announced in September 2018 after His Majesty King Abdullah met with UK Prime Minister Teresa May on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, and discussed building on the two countries’ strategic partnership and the UK’s belief in the importance of Jordan’s regional role, its stability and future.

According to the premier, Jordan’s plan to reduce its public debt, which currently accounts for 94% of the gross domestic product, will be presented during the initiative, which is an international conference to unlock investment, growth and jobs for Jordan  attended by participants from 60 countries, including private and public sector representatives, Arab and foreign investment funds and international organisations.

“Jordan overcame several difficult financial challenges… we understand citizens’ concerns in light of the current difficult economic conditions and unemployment, but we want all to be aware that we have embarked on immense efforts, that we are on the right path and that we have started to witnesses positive signals,” Razzaz said. 

In this regard, he cited an increase in exports and tourism revenues, a reduction in trade balance deficit in 2018, the resumption of natural gas supply and efforts to follow up with Arab Gulf states and other countries on various projects and procedures as positive signs.

The Kingdom will also highlight during the conference its efforts and projects to reduce energy costs, which is a key factor for attracting investments, Razzaz noted.

“The price for the Egyptian gas we are receiving is very good, and this will have a positive impact,” the premier said.

Minister of Finance Ezzeddine Kanakrieh said Jordan will work on reducing its high public debt through boosting economic growth rather than increasing taxes.

“I am optimistic: We have started receiving gas from Egypt and we have agreements with Iraq, the results of which will be evident in 2019,” Kanakrieh said, referring as well to the conclusion of the International Monetary Fund’s second review of the country’s economy.

Jordan’s plans to reduce its public debt include getting soft loans with low interest rates to pay for loans with higher interest rates and extending the payback period of some loans, in addition to diversifying and balancing debt between domestic and external sources.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply Tariq Hammouri said that the London initiative will be followed by intensive efforts, adding that the plan that will be presented during the event followed by  thorough discussions with ministries on priorities and projects.

This edited article first appeared in The Jordan Times.

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