Bakhit: Jordan keen to attract more investment.
Bakhit was addressing the opening session of the 14th Conference of Arab Businessmen and Investors, under the theme "Investment in Jordan .. Promising Opportunities."
Bakhit, who opened the conference on behalf of His Majesty King Abdullah II, said that Jordan had managed over decades of regional political and economic turmoil to maintain stability and build solid foundations which enabled it to deal with regional crises and build good relations with all neighboring countries.
Jordan, he said, had become a regional business hub, adding: "Our economy has managed to realize many economic achievements with positive indicators, thanks to economic reform programs adopted since the early nineties and subsequent development plans.
Jordan, Bakhit said, saw partnership with Arab countries as of paramount importance in the hope of completing the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA) as a major step towards establishment of an Arab Common Market.
He stressed that Jordan would continue to employ its foreign relations and potentials to attract more capital in a competitive environment.
The government, he said, gave the private sector a greater role in executing productive and infrastructure projects, through continued revision of regulations governing investment, taxes and government administration.
"This trend has helped to enhance the ability of the national economy to interact with the global economy in a confident and credible way," the premier said.
He said the government moves ahead with its reform programme relying on integrated fiscal, monetary and investment legislation, implementing free market guidelines in a partnership with the private sector and adopting a transparent decision-making approach.
Secretary General Amr Moussa said in remarks delivered on his behalf by Assistant Secretary General of the Arab League for Economic Affairs, Mohammed Al-Tuwajiri, that the pan-Arab organisation attaches great importance to joint Arab economic action and exerts extensive efforts in cooperation with concerned institutions to increase trade and inter-Arab investment flows.
He added that the League's Secretariat is working on completion of the institutional structure of GAFTA that would lead to the establishment of an Arab Customs Union in 2015 and integration of trade services among Arab countries to achieve regional economic integration.
Moussa urged Arab economists to address dropping inter-Arab and foreign investment due to the global financial crisis in order to empower Arab economies, noting that being relatively influenced by the crisis does not mean that Arab countries are immune from what is happening in the global economy.
The Arab League chief added that the first step towards effective Arab economic cooperation had been agreed during the first Arab economic summit in Kuwait in 2009, which adopted a number of resolutions to upgrade Arab infrastructure.
President of the General Union of Arab Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture Adnan Kassar said the conference is held while the Arab region goes through critical conditions and political unrest. Such conditions, he said, required that the Arab private sector to be more deeply involved in sustainable economic and social development.
"The private sector should focus on economic reform programs, with special emphasis on social reform to address poverty, unemployment and social marginalization of a wide spectrum of citizens in the Arab World," he said.
Kassar noted that the strong participation in the conference reflected growing confidence in Jordan's investment opportunities.
He said reform programs in the Arab world had failed to realize the aspirations of ordinary Arabs to a decent life and sent unemployment up to 14 per cent, noting that 65 million Arabs currently live in poverty, citing figures by the 2009 United Nations Human Development Report.
Jordan Chamber of Commerce Chairman Senator Nael Kabariti said the conference serves as a platform to exchange views among experts and plan future programs based on joint interests of individual nations.
Arab countries, he said, are well aware of the major role the private sector could play and also noted contribution by Arab chambers of industry and commerce in drawing up regional economic and trade policies.
Kabariti invited Arab and foreign businessmen to invest more in Jordan and start strategic partnerships in key sectors within an Arab vision towards setting up an Arab economic bloc capable of competing with global economic groupings.
// Petra // NZ
1/3/2011 - 03:15:47 PM
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