Jordan PM: Country open for business with great investment potential

Omar Al-Razzaz, Prime Minister of Jordan and Hadley Gamble, from CNBC speaking in Davos. (WEF / Boris Baldinger)
Updated 25 January 2019

Jordan PM: Country open for business with great investment potential

  • Jordanian PM says the country has done a lot of ‘fixing’ of itself and is ready for investment
  • ‘Jordan is a small country, but it has good infrastructure and an educated population’

LONDON: Jordan has suffered from a public relations problem because of regional crises but remains a “beacon of light” in the region, the Kingdom’s prime minister Omar Al-Razzaz said on Thursday.

While the country has seen more than its fair share of turmoil over the past 10 years, it is very much open for business, with a lot to offer potential investors, he said during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“People see the mess our region is in, and they have tended to shy away,” Al-Razzaz said. “But because we are not interested in polarization, we have become a stable model in a turbulent region.”

Jordan is keen to attract more investment to help pull itself out of an economic crisis. The country last year attempted to enact unpopular austerity measures to lower record public debt needed to get the economy back on track. Jordan has also suffered from hosting 1.4 million Syrian refugees since the war began in 2011.

Last year, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait pledged a $2.5 billion grant to Jordan after protests over economic hardship.

“We have a lot to offer investors,” Al-Razzaz said during the discussion with broadcaster CNBC’s Hadley Gamble. “We have a comparative advantage in the Middle East in exporting services, particularly on a business level and in back-office services, with the added support of our well-educated bilingual workforce.

“We have a great pharmaceutical sector. We have a great cinema industry. IT is prime for us.” 

“I would invite investors, industries and services to look at Jordan again. Come as tourists to Petra, enjoy the food and weather, and make up your mind on an investment level.”

The Jordanian PM says the country has done a lot of “fixing” of itself. 

“We have started to get our house in order. We have had to move from a public toward a private sector model. And we have taken governance measures. We have disclosure policies about what public officials own. We have a stable macroeconomic environment. All of this allows us to have a different narrative about the future.”

The Jordanian PM wrapped up at the WEF by urging investors to look beyond the crises that have beset the region and look to Jordan as an oasis of potential investment. 

“Jordan is a small country, but it has good infrastructure and an educated population. Businesses from all over the world come to Jordan.” 

OECD forecast sees global growth at decade low

Updated 22 November 2019

OECD forecast sees global growth at decade low

  • Governments failing to get to grips with challenges, outlook says

PARIS: The global economy is growing at the slowest pace since the financial crisis as governments leave it to central banks to revive investment, the OECD said on Thursday in an update of its forecasts.

The world economy is projected to grow by a decade-low 2.9 percent this year and next, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in its Economic Outlook, trimming its 2020 forecast from an estimate of 3 percent in September.

Offering meagre consolation, the Paris-based policy forum forecast growth would edge up to 3 percent in 2021, but only if a myriad of risks ranging from trade wars to an unexpectedly sharp Chinese slowdown is contained.

A bigger concern, however, is that governments are failing to get to grips with global challenges such as climate change, the digitalization of their economies and the crumbling of the multilateral order that emerged after the fall of Communism.

“It would be a policy mistake to consider these shifts as temporary factors that can be addressed with monetary or fiscal policy: they are structural,” OECD chief economist Laurence Boone wrote in the report.

Without clear policy direction on these issues, “uncertainty will continue to loom high, damaging growth prospects,” she added.

Among the major economies, US growth was forecast at 2.3 percent this year, trimmed from 2.4 percent in September as the fiscal impulse from a 2017 tax cut waned and amid weakness among US trading partners.

With the world’s biggest economy seen growing 2 percent in 2020 and 2021, the OECD said further interest rate cuts would be warranted only if growth turned weaker.

China, which is not an OECD member but is tracked by it, was forecast to grow marginally faster in 2019 than had been expected in September, with growth of 6.2 percent rather than 6.1 percent.

However, the OECD said that China would keep losing momentum, with growth of 5.7 percent expected in 2020 and 5.5 percent in 2021 in the face of trade tensions and a gradual rebalancing of activity away from exports to the domestic economy.

In the euro area, growth was seen at 1.2 percent in 2019 and 1.1 percent in 2020, up both years by 0.1 percentage point on the September forecast. It is seen at 1.2 percent in 2021.

The OECD warned that the relaunch of bond buying at the European Central Bank would have a limited impact if euro area countries did not boost investment.

The outlook for Britain improved marginally from September as the prospect of a no-deal exit from the EU recedes.

British growth was upgraded to 1.2 percent this year from 1 percent previously and was seen at 1 percent in 2020.