REGIONAL INTEGRATION

Oman 2018 | DIPLOMACY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Yarub Qudah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply of Jordan, on key initiatives to boost bilateral trade and relations, staying afloat amidst regional crises, and the importance of diversification.

Yarub Qudah

Which fields are Jordan and Oman keen to boost relations in, and what economic impact will they have on both nations?

The meeting of His Majesty Kind Abdullah II with Sultan Qaboos of Oman in May 2017 emphasized the deep and historically rooted relations between Jordan and Oman. It reflected the keenness of leaders in both countries to develop and enhance these relations in different fields, mainly in augmenting economic and industrial cooperation and increasing the volume and diversification of trade exchange, through enhancing and encouraging further cooperation between the private sectors in both countries, participating in exhibitions, and holding B2B activities as well as exchanging expertise on issues of mutual interest. Other activities include signing an agreement on mutual administrative cooperation in customs affairs and trade facilitation, including the possibility of establishing electronic networking between the customs departments of both nations. Moreover, Oman has agreed to facilitate the movement of Jordanian vendors and businessmen by granting them multi-entry visas to Oman. There will also be greater cooperation in the field of investment, by identifying investment opportunities available in both countries and facilitating the establishment of joint ventures, as well as in the academic field, as it is of a great interest to both countries being a basic pillar for the sustainable development. Both countries also discussed cooperation in the private generation projects for electricity and renewable energy projects. Jordan also will continue to import Omani crude oil, which constitutes 42% of the Kingdom's total imports from Oman.

What measures are being taken by both countries to achieve solutions to regional crises?

Situated in the heart of the troubled Middle East, which is suffering from the ongoing crises in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and the recent developments with Qatar, both countries have been consistent in seeking to resolve the escalating situation through diplomatic channels with an aim to put an end to the aggravating regional geopolitical instability. As a result of the ongoing regional crises, both countries have suffered economically, though each on a different scale. Despite these increasing challenges, both countries have maintained a positive attitude while looking into ways of easing the negative impact on their economies and populations.

What advice can Jordan give Oman as it prepares to widely diversify its economy in the coming years?

The government of Jordan, under the visionary leadership of HM King Abdullah II, has been working for over two decades on increasing the base of its economic activities, all of which have the aim to increase its resilience and reduce its vulnerability to external factors. The success of Jordan's economic diversification was based on its ability to establish strong economic institutions capable of overseeing this process, which required institutional regulatory reform and workforce development initiatives. Policies directed at the manufacturing sector sought to encourage the sophistication of their products with the aim of increasing export revenues and boosting their product competitiveness abroad. As for the services sector, which is one of the main contributors to the Jordanian economy, increased attention was given to the logistics, tourism, banking, health, and information technologies sectors by enhancing the level of education and professionalism of the workers in these sectors as well as driving policies for their growth. Moreover, diversification was strengthened through the enactment of the decentralization law that aspires to set Jordan's economic, social, and political policies on the right track toward inclusion, wealth distribution, growth, and prosperity. Jordan commends the efforts already initiated by Oman to diversify its economy. The Sultanate is on the right path with Tanfeedh as part of the country's ninth Five-Year Development Plan (2016-2020). The program brought together representatives of the public and private sectors, academia, and civil society to coordinate activities and identify the targeted sectors.