The incumbent Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply, His Excellency Yarub Qudah is also chairman of the Jordan Enterprise Development Corporation (JEDCO) and a key figure driving trade policy in Prime Minister Hani Al-Mulki’s cabinet. He spoke with us about his recent trips to Iraq and the prospects of trade being revived with this giant Arab neighbor.
What have you learned from your recent trips to Iraq?
The recent official visits to Iraq focused on discussing means to foster bilateral cooperation and boost trade relations between the two nations. Discussions included a request to exclude Jordan from the Iraqi Ministerial Decree imposing a 30% customs duty on all imported goods to Iraq regardless of the country of origin. The request is based on the bilateral Free Trade Agreement, which entered into force in the year 2013. The request was received favorably from the Iraqi side. In parallel, both sides agreed on setting up a Jordanian-Iraqi Joint Industrial Zone, activating the role of the Jordanian-Iraqi Company for industrialization, in addition to opening mutual trade centers with the aim to promote and facilitate trade exchanges between the two countries. Other areas of potential cooperation included, inter alia, investment, transport, customs, energy and public works.
On the other hand, Iraq has introduced measures to reopen the Tureibil border crossing. In fact, this is a crucial step on the right path in the fight against terrorism. In this context, the Iraqi cabinet took a decision to qualify foreign security companies responsible to securing the path between Amman and Baghdad.
When borders reopen with Iraq, what kind of impact will this have for Jordan’s business community?
The Tureibil border crossing is of a significant importance to promote transport and trade exchanges between Jordan and Iraq, in addition to transit exports to Iraq through the Aqaba port. Hence, the reopening of the Iraq border crossing is vital for reconstruction efforts and for increasing the volume of Jordanian exports to Iraq, as well as for holding joint industrial and services projects as an engine for development of the two economies.
Why should investors use Jordan as a launchpad to rebuild the region?
Jordan is recognized as an ideal gateway to doing business in the region. Investors could capitalize from available trade and investment opportunities including those embodied within the network of free trade agreements that Jordan signed with major economic blocs, including Arab states, Agadir members, EFTA states, the US, the EU, Canada and Turkey, as well as within the decision on relaxed rules of origin signed between Jordan and the EU. Moreover, Jordan offers a conducive business environment supported by a modern and well-connected infrastructure, a highly trained and competitive work force, an efficient and solid banking sector and robust telecommunication networks.
How are new regulations helping funnel in investment?
The Public Private Partnership (PPP) Law represents another step forward to further enhancing the investment environment. It aims at attracting the private sector to partner with the government in implementing infrastructure and development projects, which consequently will positively impact the performance of the national economy and on the other hand be a way to introduce private sector technology and innovation in providing better public services through improved operational efficiency. Hence, investors are encouraged to realize the benefits embodied within the enriched and enabling business environment in Jordan to effectively engage in joint ventures targeted to rebuilding Iraq and in a later stage Syria.