At the Jordan-US Business Forum
21 May 2011
In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate
Thank you. It is an honor to help inaugurate the first Jordan-U.S. Business Forum. I am delighted to welcome some newcomers to Jordan ... and see some old friends as well. I just concluded a visit to the United States where I met with President Obama and other officials. It was yet another opportunity to reaffirm the long-standing strategic relationship between Jordan and the United States.
This Forum recognizes the very special role of the private sector in our countries and the world. Of course no single sector acts alone. But great businesses have unique capabilities: to create and innovate ... to open new markets ... to marshal talent ... and to expand opportunity.
Today, it is absolutely essential to bring these full benefits to the Middle East. And I am here today to say: 'No-where are the opportunities more powerful - more enduring - more ripe - than in Jordan.'
We meet here in the light of historic events in the region. The Arab Spring has brought a wide range of action and reaction, from violent unrest to peaceful protest and dialogue. But everywhere, we can hear a basic message. People want a better life ... economic security ... a say in how society is organized ... and respect for their human dignity.
The voices of young people are especially urgent. Here in Jordan they make up more than three-quarters of our population. They expect and deserve the opportunity to build positive, thriving futures.
Much is involved in bringing these expectations to reality. One element is relevant to this Forum today. Growth, jobs, and prosperity will require the participation of a healthy private sector in the region ... and investments and partnerships from the global economy beyond.
Jordan is determined to move forward with reform. More than a decade ago, our country began the difficult task of comprehensive, structural change. There have been setbacks - but also successes, which you will hear about at this Forum. We have changed laws and processes ... and more: we are fostering and rewarding the spirit of innovation and change needed to grow business and create opportunity.
And more gains are in the works. Jordan's commitment to unity, stability, and progress is rock solid. Civil-society leaders from many different sectors are working together in a dialogue on our future ... including concrete measures to achieve our goals.
Economic reforms that are already in place will be re-enforced. Economic reforms that are on the drawing board will be carried forward. This is my commitment, and Jordan's commitment. And for a simple reason: we know our people's future depends on it.
This is one reason businesses can look to Jordan with confidence. But it is not all. An unparalleled geostrategic location and positive relationships make us a logical hub for regional and global trade. We enjoy F.T.A.'s with the United States, Canada, Europe, Turkey, Singapore, and every Arab country. Just this month, the Gulf Cooperation Council welcomed Jordan into joining the group. The G.C.C.'s response validates Jordan's excellent regional position, safety, and growth potential. We are excited about the future.
Indeed, Jordan has one of the most dynamic and diversified economies in the region. Today we are fighting our way through the global economic crisis that has hit this region so hard. Government is doing its utmost to facilitate job opportunity, productivity, and growth. Incentive programs welcome global businesses. We are investing in education and infrastructure. Laws and regulations protect foreign companies to the same level as domestic entities.
We also offer an outstanding workforce - young, skilled, and motivated. They bring valuable knowledge of regional markets, cultures and customers. They are also aware of a world far beyond the region's borders. Today's young Jordanians were raised in a global environment of internet connectivity and real-time communications. We have the highest penetration of bilingual English-Arabic speakers in the region.
All this talent provides a market-ready pool for manufacturing, business-process operations, tourism, I.T., and more. Highly successful companies headquartered here are demonstrating our great position as a base for global growth. We are keen to encourage new opportunities.
Alternative energy is another area prepared for expansion. Recent discoveries in Jordan have revealed the 11th-largest uranium deposits in the world. The time is now to discuss wind, solar, and nuclear power in Jordan's future. Energy security and environmental safety are strong priorities. Join us in pioneering marketplace answers for the developing world's rising energy demand.
Let me make a bold statement to companies doing business in the region: my country will do what it takes to create growth for you and for us. We will work in public-private partnership ... we will provide the resources required to optimize investments ... we will sit down with you in dialogue about process, services, and goals.
Jordan's commitment to the future is secure. It has driven our long work for regional peace ... and with America's help, peace will succeed. And our same belief in the future is driving our determination to open the doors of enterprise and opportunity.
But we cannot do it alone. We need partners, to build prosperity that lasts - in my country, and in my region.
This year's short-term dislocations should not take our eyes off the prize: a region of 350-million consumers ... key strategic resources ... tri-continental access ... record economic growth ... and vast potential.
Global businesses that move to join us early will send a signal of good faith that will be heard and remembered across the region. I hope you will be among them.
Again, thank you for your participation in today’s Forum. It has been a privilege to help inaugurate this important event. I wish you the greatest success.