The ABCC hosted a business event on Opportunities in Jordan at its premises on 13th March when the Chamber was pleased to welcome H E Mr Omar Al Nahar, the Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in London. The Chamber was also delighted to be joined at the event by H E Mr Tarek Adel, the Egyptian Ambassador and H E Mr Mohamed Elkoni, the Libyan Chargé d’Affaires.
In welcoming remarks, Mr Bandar Reda, ABCC Secretary General & CEO, stressed the important opportunities in the Jordanian market for British business. He also explained why companies should join the ABCC to take advantage of its services.
Chairman, the Rt Hon Baroness Symons, welcomed Mr Reda’s appointment and wished him all success in his position. She described Jordan as a remarkable country at the heart of the Arab world and praised the generosity of its people. She mentioned that H M the King of Jordan had been in London recently for the major international investment conference.
A promotional film focusing in on the key attractions of Jordan as a logistics hub and centre for tech industries was shown.
The Ambassador, H E Mr Omar Al Nahar, told the audience of business people and investors that Jordan was working towards achieving financial self-reliance and economic sustainability which would be based on the resilience and innovation of its people.
The London Initiative conference held in February had unveiled a plan for growth for which Jordan had received pledges of support from the international community.
H E the Ambassador outlined the main assets of the country such as its skilled and educated population, and its strategic location that offered access to markets of over a billion people as a result of the free trade agreements that Jordan had successfully concluded. This had made Jordan advantageous to exporters.
Mr Wedad Kurugky, Export Finance Manager, UK Export Finance, explained the funding that his agency was able to offer to companies to help them secure exports and win contracts overseas.
He stated that UKEF, which was marking its centenary this year, had access to a budget of £50 billion but this was not fully utilised. He stressed that support was available to SMEs and not exclusively to large corporates. In fact, 75% of firms receiving UKEF support could be described as SMEs.
Dr Neil Quilliam, Associate Fellow MENA Programme, Chatham House, spoke jointly with Dr Sue Griffiths, Executive Director, Global Partners Governance, about a research project they had been undertaking into the Jordanian market which was designed to facilitate greater engagement with the UK.
Dr Griffiths stressed that the research was focusing on Jordan’s own priorities for growth and development.
Dr Quilliam described some of the findings of the research by highlighting the opportunities in some key sectors which he hoped UK business would not miss out on. The four main sectors he highlighted were healthcare, agriculture, tourism and electrical machinery.
He stated that a key message was that while UK and Jordan enjoyed excellent relations at the governmental level, much needed to be done to strengthen relations in the economic sphere and UK firms should expand their presence.
Mr Maher Ghanma, Head of Government Affairs ME, DLA Piper, said that the challenges to investors in the market were being seriously addressed by the Jordanian government and the country was experiencing a turnaround.
He flagged up the pipeline projects available to investors that could be accessed online. In total, there were 123 projects identified 10 of which were to be tendered this year.
Mr Ghanma confirmed that the growth sectors that investors should be looking at were IT, education, renewable energy and healthcare. Investors would be encouraged by the determination to simplify the country’s regulatory framework to make it easier to do business.
Mr Andrew Holland, Research & Development Director, IrisGuard UK, delivered a case study of a UK SME that was working successfully in Jordan. He said that UK firms would be attracted by the highly educated labour, the stability of the market, the widespread use of English and the long history of friendly UK-Jordan relations.
Finally, Mr Jun-Dai Bates-Kobashigawa, Senior Director, technology, Expedia, shared his own experiences of the technology sector in the country by describing how his company had successfully established a partnership with Jordan that recruited local IT personnel.
Higher education, cooperation between public and private sectors, the available assistance for entrepreneurs and the integration of refugees into the labour market were topics that came up for discussion.