On the Occasion of the Signing of the US-Jordan Free Trade Agreement (Via videoconference)
11 December 2002
In October 2000, Jordan and the United States signed an agreement to establish a Free Trade Area between our two countries. Now, we meet across continents, in the first U.S.-Jordan Joint Commission on the FTA. Today, some of you are joining this conference in Amman, some in Washington, others in Cairo, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Kuwait and Dubai. This international gathering indicates the great reach of Jordan's partnership with the U.S., and the promise that it offers to business and capital investors. And I welcome all of you.
Let me say a few words about what our meeting is all about. In the past few years, Jordan has made great strides toward becoming a full player in all that the global economy has to offer. We are members of the World Trade Organisation. We have a strong Association Agreement with Europe, and we were the first Arab country to sign a free-trade agreement with the US – the FTA that we will be discussing today. This agreement came into effect last December. And let me say, Bob, that we thank you for your active role in helping to bring this important agreement to fruition.
Our trade partnerships are guided by a simple fact: in the 21st century, access to global trade has proven benefits for economic and social development. Countries that open their borders and expand their markets are creating new opportunities across their economies.
The U.S.-Jordan FTA is of special importance. A free flow of trade between Jordan and the US will give our country unimpeded access to the largest and most rapidly growing of markets. This will allow for an exponential increase in our bilateral trade, helping to sustain Jordan's export-led growth. But the significance of the U.S.-Jordan FTA transcends economic issues. It also sends a strong message about the solidity of our partnership, now and for the future. The FTA is a vote of confidence in Jordan's success as a model of achievement and excellence. It both reflects and contributes to the strength and success of our model of democracy, peace and equal opportunity.
I can also tell you that tomorrow, Secretary of State Powell will be announcing a new, U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative. Let me say that the US and Jordan have been working on this together, as full partners. It is an important initiative, and it is a measure of the close friendship and positive future we both see.
In fact, today, the Jordanian model is providing an exceptionally positive environment for capital investment. To secure profitable returns, investors can look to Jordan's numerous competitive advantages. Our talented, young population is available to meet managerial and technological developmental needs. And productivity and efficiency are being enhanced by Jordan's nationwide, integrated approach to economic development. This includes reform initiatives across our legislative, educational, judicial and civil systems. In fact, Jordan has already accomplished major aspects of the re-structuring and liberalisation of our economic frameworks. And a significant part of our privatisation programme is completed, including utilities, services and production.
The FTA between Jordan and the US is indeed a door to a new and prosperous future – and today's conference is intended to give you some of the keys. Seminars will provide details related to market access, rules-of-origin compliance, and the elimination of duties and commercial barriers between the US and Jordan. There will also be information on environmental issues, electronic commerce, and the protection of intellectual property rights.
I thank you all for taking the time to be with us today. And in the days ahead, I hope I can also welcome you to Jordan. Working together, I believe we can make the dream of growth, stability, and shared prosperity a reality.
Thank you very much. Peace be upon you.