Interview: Thabet Elwir
In addition to the one-stop shop, how is the JIC working with other entities to target foreign investors and streamline processes?
THABET ELWIR: The JIC has been working on regulating, developing and monitoring the implementation of development and free zones in Jordan. Its goals are to showcase investment opportunities, provide investors with information and data, and create plans and programmes to motivate local and foreign investments. JIC is working on five programmes to promote investment with parties and international institutions including the EU and the US Agency for International Development.
How are foreign direct investment (FDI) targets being adapted in light of the ongoing conflicts within the region and global economic uncertainty?
ELWIR: The JIC’s law included the following incentives to attract foreign investment: exemption from Customs duties, general sales tax and in some cases income tax reductions; no restrictions on foreign ownership except in a limited number of economic activities where a Jordanian partner is required; allowance of full foreign ownership for investments in development zones and free zones; privileges and guarantees for foreign investors, including national treatment, free movement of capital, protection against expropriation and options for resorting to alternative dispute settlement mechanisms; and facilitation of registration and licensing services for foreign investors by the investment window, in addition to support in obtaining visas, residency permits and other services.
What role do you envisage technology and research playing in the Jordanian economy?
ELWIR: Jordan believes in scientific research as a tool for progress and prosperity. It is considered a foundation stone for the construction of a comprehensive strategy, through the Higher Council for Scientific Research, to oversee research starting from the early stages of education. Jordan has concentrated efforts on exploitation of natural resources, human capacity, and work to promote and disseminate a research culture, curriculum development and scientific decisions. The idea is to ensure the creation of a generation of thinkers and innovators, and to provide the necessary material, resources and facilities to stimulate research.
How is policy being developed to target specific countries as sources for investment?
ELWIR: Aligning with Jordan’s economic development policy, JIC created a three-year investment promotion strategy and implementation plan, which aims to provide the basis for the JIC to increase both domestic and foreign investment into Jordan. The JIC has the authority to develop and implement programmes that contribute to meeting these objectives. While the strategy makes direct reference and wherever possible aligns with Vision 2025, the Investment Law and other studies, it is not directly led by them. It aims to be a realistic strategy, while it also looks to target a sector mix that can offer added-value jobs, promote technology transfer and support industrial development in other sectors. The identification of source markets likely to generate sustained flows of investment projects is closely aligned with demand-side analysis, which considers sector trends at a global, regional and national level to determine where those projects have been sourced from.
How beneficial will the new Jordan-EU trade agreement, which entered into effect on July 20, 2016, be in terms of attracting investment?
ELWIR: Streamlining EU rules of origin and applying them to the kingdom’s qualified development zones is necessary to encourage the flow of Jordanian products to Europe. The negotiations with Jordan over a transitional period of 10 years, in which the rules of origin will be simplified to attract investments, could create hundreds of thousands of jobs for Jordanians.
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