To the Economic Organisations
2 December 1999
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is indeed a pleasure to have this opportunity to address this distinguished group of economic and business representatives. The meeting in itself marks the special level that has been reached by the relations between Jordan and Japan, a level that allows for a greater involvement of the Japanese private sector in the shaping of the future course of these relations. It also allows us to give you an idea of what we are attempting to accomplish in our country, namely, peace, tranquillity, and the appropriate conducive environment for an investment in the future.
We pay a state visit to Japan at a time when Jordan is being admitted to the World Trade Organisation, having successfully completed all the necessary legislative and policy requirements for accession. This landmark development testifies to the commitment that we have shown and proved to all, for accelerated economic reform and liberalisation, and for the encouragement of the private sector to invest in fields which have until now been restricted to the public sector.
Membership in the WTO, the conclusion of several Free Trade Area Agreements with a number of Arab countries and with the European Union, as well as the rapid growth of the Qualifying Industrial Zones, are likely to enhance our export levels in the next few years. Investments in downstream industries in the mining sector aimed at exporting derivatives to world markets have also sent a positive signal as far as the future outlook of exports is concerned. Perhaps equally important is the vote of confidence of our partners in the developed world in our policies. Their support, exemplified in the rescheduling of our debt within the context of the Paris Club, has been quite instrumental in getting our efforts back on track.
Perhaps more significant is the awareness that is growing in Jordan at all levels, government and private sector alike, that the best future strategy is one that is built on a shared vision and a joint approach by both, to ensure the achievement of the growth prospects of our economy. Whereas lack of cooperation and perhaps even mistrust have so far characterised the relations between the two sectors, it seems to me that they are both admitting for the first time the added value of each other, in assuming the responsibility and in working hard to deliver concrete results and success stories. In effect, they are now being held accountable for implementing a far-reaching and ambitious program that was adopted only last weekend at a retreat to which I invited representatives of both sectors.
The program calls for reforms in the way things have been carried out so far, in civil service, in education, higher education and training, and it also calls for investing in fields with high potential for growth. One of the most promising of these areas is information technology and software development. We produce far more highly trained graduates than our small electronics industry can employ. Little of that homegrown talent stays at home. This is why we have initiated with the private sector a new drive to harness our output of well-qualified college graduates in a high-tech revolution of our own.
For the first time, and through plans to establish a new high-tech industrial park close to the University of Science & Technology, we are realising on the ground the notion of collaboration between university researchers and corporate partners. The appropriate legislative and regulatory environments, as well as access to financing through venture capital funds, are requirements that are being met to encourage the development of this sector. The criteria for success would be the ability of the Jordanian companies to attract outsourcing from multinationals seeking to gain an advantage in cost, quality and a foothold in a rapidly growing region of the world.
Competitiveness in key economic sectors, export-oriented growth, the need to develop a proper industrial policy, accelerated privatisation of sectors that need to operate within a competitive yet regulated market, deepening of the financial sector to be able to meet the requirements of ambitious development plans: these are all lessons learnt from the Japanese model and experience. The institutions, organisations and companies that you so ably represent today are the product of policies engraved in the philosophy of free enterprise and competition among market forces.
We learnt at school about the Japanese miracle, then watched it from afar, before having the privilege of getting to know the miracle makers, the entrepreneurs and the corporate leaders, at close range. We hope to welcome you soon to our small, yet vibrant and promising country, as partners in development and success. For years, Jordan has been a recipient of Japanese assistance, both in material and technical terms. We hope that this partnership can expand to include, first and foremost, commercially viable, productive, and profitable investments and joint ventures in Jordan: in tourism, mining, and information technology. The glowing success of the joint Jordanian-Japanese fertiliser venture in Eshidiya, in the south of Jordan, testifies to the success that Japanese enterprises have already achieved in our country through such modes of cooperation.
As far as I am concerned, I can promise my full personal support and that of my government to any and all feasible projects that you can bring to us to employ Jordanians, and to teach them your skills and management know-how. This is the real engine of sustainable growth and the genuine bond between countries. I can also promise that we shall continue with strong determination to work together with all the parties in our region to establish a lasting and comprehensive peace that will guarantee the necessary stability for investments and, therefore, prosperity.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
When this historic visit to your great country ends, we shall take with us memories that will last for a lifetime, mainly about friendship and about success. More than anything, we shall always cherish such moments like these, when you allowed us to share with you your success and your commitment to achieve excellence in all that you do. We would like to emulate, to learn and to be part of this success. Let this be my parting thought at this gathering, which I truly enjoyed.
I wish you all the best in all that you do, and I hope to see you all in my country very near in the future.