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Time for investors to take another look at Jordan — ambassador

British envoy to Jordan says London initiative beginning of longer process to improve economy

By Mohammad Ghazal - Feb 23,2019 - Last updated at Feb 23,2019

Edward Oakden

AMMAN — The London initiative, which will be held on February 28, is the start of a much longer process to unlock investment, growth and jobs for the Kingdom while sending a message of support, British Ambassador to Jordan Edward Oakden said on Saturday.

The ambassador, whose country will co-host the high-profile conference along with the Jordan, said the initiative will kick off a process to help the Kingdom realise its potential and achieve its desired economic future. 

“The hard work starts at the first of March,” he said.

“Jordan [has] faced several difficult circumstances… but now is the time for international investors to take another look at Jordan,” the ambassador said in an interview with The Jordan Times on Saturday.

Jordanian officials taking part in the event, which will be attended by 450 participants from 60 countries representing private and public sectors, Arab and foreign investment funds and international organisations, will present Jordan’s efforts to reduce public debt, drive economic growth, attract investments, boost exports and reduce energy costs, with the ultimate objective of creating new opportunities and improving self-reliance.

“The Jordanian government has already introduced several important laws, which have started to free up the environment for Jordanian business to operate… This is clearly going to be a longer-term process but will result in nothing less than the economic transformation of Jordan,” the ambassador noted.

Jordan will present its plan on how to address its debt, which the ambassador notes is particularly significant, “so that the international community and the international business community can be clear that there is a plan to address Jordan’s high levels of debt, and that it is on a downwards trajectory”.

“Businesses want to have a sense that it is under control and is [moving] in the right direction,” he said.

The conference is also an opportunity to put a spotlight on Jordan’s plans to create a business-friendly environment in the country.

Success stories of businesses that have already come and invested in Jordan, such as Microsoft and Expedia, will be highlighted during the event.

“They [Expedia and Microsoft] have done it. Why have they come here? This is not just because Jordan is a welcoming country, but because they can do very good business here.”

“We would say to the international community, ‘Have confidence that Jordan is a good place to invest and come and see it for yourself’,” the ambassador said. 

“The likes of Microsoft and Expedia are investing here, and they are not doing so because Jordan has Petra and it is a beautiful place, they are here... because they believe there is a good business proposition to do so,” Oakden added.

Onother key messages for the event is to show that young people and women have a credible economic future in the Kingdom, he stressed.

Around 68 per cent of the country’s population is under the age of 30, around two thirds of unemployed women in Jordan have university degrees and some 60 per cent of women who are not employed want to work, he underlined.

Regarding sectors in which Jordan can compete, he referred to studies done by Oxford University, Harvard University and the London School of Economics to try and identify areas where Jordan can credibly compete in the future. The areas the schools found included high-value service sectors such as health, ICT, renewable energy, education, and tourism.

Stressing the UK’s support to Jordan, he said that his country has always believed in Jordan since its foundation, and would continue to do so.

“We had a partnership that was based heavily on security assistance, as that was Jordan’s main needs. Our new partnership will also be focused on the economy as this is the biggest challenge facing Jordan [now],” he said.

The ambassador added that the London initiative will tell the story of Jordan. “It is a story. It is the story of how Jordan has faced the external and internal challenges, lived up to its international commitments and is now moving [on] to a new phase.”

“What we are trying to tell is this story, and to give young people and women hope. Not airy hope, but to give them a concrete sense about how we can move from here to there… and that is to send a very strong message of support for what Jordan is doing and stress on continued support from the UK and the international community to help Jordan on its journey to this new future,” the ambassador concluded.

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