The Business Year

Public-private cooperation could help boost investment in key areas going forward.

Omar Razzaz

Prime Minister, Jordan

Jordan understands that its path to sustainable and equitable economic growth includes aggressively increasing exports and FDI and enhancing its operational competitiveness. For this, we have developed a Five-Year Reform and Growth Matrix, which combines short- and medium-term actions for a realistic economic transformation. This matrix is devised to create not just jobs, but also an enabling economic environment for the advancement of Jordan’s educated, skilled, and motivated population—especially women and youth—in already leading fields such as business services, technology, healthcare, engineering, tourism, and logistics. A valuable tool for investors that we have developed in cooperation with our international partners is the Project Pipeline Development Facility, geared toward preparing PPP projects that attract investments in key sectors such as water, health, ICT, tourism, waste management, and transport.

Muhannad Shehadeh

former minister of State for Investment Affairs & former President, Jordan Investment Commission (JIC)

Investment Law No. 30 was passed in 2014 to attract foreign investment and stimulate local investments. Compared to other investment laws in the region, it is a competitive legislative framework, offering a range of incentives and benefits in and outside the free zones. Jordan is largely open to foreign investment, and foreign and local investors are treated equally under the law. JIC is responsible for promoting new and existing investment in Jordan, including through simplifying investment procedures. The economic reforms in Jordan have led to the creation of a competitive investment environment and strengthening of the national economy. These reforms will be key to addressing investors’ obstacles and making Jordan an attractive location for value-added investments.

Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh

Chairman, Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh

There is an urgent need to transform Jordan into a knowledge economy. Jordanians like to take the US and the UK as role models, but I always compare Jordan to Finland because both have more in common. Both countries have a small population and no natural resources. However, Finland’s GDP is over USD230 billion, whereas Jordan’s is USD40 billion. There is no reason Jordan cannot reach a GDP level comparable to that of Finland’s; we just need the political will and corresponding political decisions. Unfortunately, most governments address short-term issues. In comparison, Finland has decided to address long-term issues and invented the tools to become a knowledge economy. Finland is leading changes in education globally, and adopting its model is the short and long road to success. This is why I established the Talal Abu Ghazaleh Knowledge Forum, which has set a target for Jordan to reach USD280 billion in GDP by 2040. We have problems in the economy, including the closure of borders, which has turned Jordan into an economic prison. In the absence of that, the only approach is to go digital, because the digital economy has no borders.

Ghassan Nuqul

Vice Chairman, Nuqul Group

There are great opportunities. We have a new generation of brilliant Jordanians who are creative and at the forefront of technology. From my experience, what we need is the enabling environment, so if you create the right environment, then ideas will come. Renewable energy, mobile applications, smart phones, technology, and IoT will all develop as these young Jordanians come up with the ideas themselves. We need fewer unproductive taxes on them, and by unproductive taxes I mean taxes to cover the budget deficit. Government expenses are like a leaky bucket. However, the fact that a businessman can go and see five ministers in one week in Jordan tells you that the government is willing to listen.

Karim Kawar

President, Kawar Group

I was the architect of the REACH2025 initiative, which is building Jordan as a digital economy. First introduced in 2000, Jordan has come a long way in the ICT sector. Today, we are looking into moving Jordan into the digital economy, and increasingly we are using our smart devices to interact, whether it is with our banks or our government, which brings greater efficiency. Certainly, a great deal of that can utilize blockchain in terms of tokenization, making assets more accessible for potential buyers. That can cut across many industries, for example in agriculture; blockchain can track produce from the farm to the dining table. Today, there is a great deal of inefficiencies in that space, and many are exploring how to use blockchain to fix that, which can go a long way in enhancing our exports. This is where Jordan can learn from other countries that are now ahead of us in this space, though we can catch up and perhaps accelerate many of those opportunities.



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