Jordan

Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
Report
July 5, 2016

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Executive SummaryShare    

Jordan is a Middle East country located on desert plateaus in southwest Asia. Since King Abdullah II’s 1999 ascension to the throne, Jordan has taken steps to encourage foreign investment and to develop an outward-oriented, market-based, and globally competitive economy. In particular, banking, information and communication technology, pharmaceuticals, tourism, and services sectors have all experienced key reforms in recent years. Foreign and domestic investment laws grant specific incentives to industry, agriculture, tourism, hospitals, transportation, energy, and water distribution. Jordan is also uniquely poised geopolitically to host large scale investment focused on the reconstruction of Iraq, Syria and other regional markets.

Jordan’s economy improved in 2015, despite ongoing challenges both domestically and in the region. The government pursued economic reform measures as part of its International Monetary Fund (IMF) Stand-by Arrangement program, which concluded in July. Central Bank foreign reserves, remained stable in at the end of 2015 around USD 14 billion compared to year end 2014, a 15 percent increase from its USD 12 billion level at the end of 2013. GDP grew at a rate of 2.5percent, slightly lower than the 3.1 percent growth rate in 2014. Jordan’s fiscal position was burdened 2011-2014 by the loss of Egyptian natural gas, resulting in the import of costlier fuels and significant debt. However, helped with lower international oil prices and contracted liquefied natural gas deliveries that begin in July 2015, the government was able to close its near-term financing gap with savings from reform measures, loans, and foreign assistance.

Despite cabinet changes, the prime minister has remained in place since the fall of 2012, helping guide the country through difficult economic reform efforts. In 2014, Jordan moved forward on a number of legislative reforms, including the new Income Tax Law, Public Private Partnership Law and Investment Law. Yet economic growth has been slow due to the regional security environment, the 2015 closure of Jordan's borders with Iraq and Syria, and the influx of refugees, particularly from Syria. Notwithstanding the regional environment, the general investment outlook for Jordan remains favorable and in several sectors, advantageous.

Table 1

Measure

Year

Index or Rank

Website Address

TI Corruption Perceptions index

2015

45 of 168

transparency.org/cpi2014/results

World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business”

2016

113of 189

doingbusiness.org/rankings

Global Innovation Index

2015

75 of 141

globalinnovationindex.org/content/page/data-analysis

U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD) stock positions)

2012

D*

BEA

World Bank GNI per capita

2014

USD $5,160

data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

* "(D)" indicates that the data in the cell have been suppressed to avoid the disclosure of data of individual companies.

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign InvestmentShare    

Attitude toward Foreign Direct Investment

Jordan is largely open to foreign investment. Jordan acceded to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in April 2000. In addition, the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Area Agreement (FTA) was signed in October of 2000, and fully implemented in January 2010. The United States and Jordan signed a Bilateral Investment Treaty in 1997 that went into force in 2003.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

Jordan has been a World Trade Organization (WTO) member since 2000. WTO conducted Jordan’s second Trade Policy Review in November 2015. https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp425_e.htm

In 2012, the United States and Jordan agreed to Statements of Principles for International Investment and for Information and Communication Technology Services, and a Trade and Investment Partnership Bilateral Action Plan, each of which is designed to increase transparency, openness, and governmental and private sector cooperation. The two parties also began discussions on a Customs Administration and Trade Facilitation Agreement. The government of Jordan underwent an investment policy review by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and in November 2013 subscribed to the OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises. http://www.oecd.org/countries/jordan/jordan-investment-policy.htm

Laws/Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

With respect to ownership and participation in Jordan's major economic sectors, there is no systematic or legal discrimination against foreign participation other than the restrictions outlined in the governing regulations. In fact, many Jordanian businesses actively seek engagement with foreign partners as a way to increase their competitiveness and access other international markets. The government's efforts have made Jordan's official investment climate welcoming; however, some large U.S. investors have reported hidden costs, due to bureaucratic red tape, vague regulations, and conflicting jurisdictions.

Business Registration

Businesses in Jordan need to register with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Supplies, Chambers of Commerce or Industry depending on the type of business they are in, open a bank account, obtain a tax identification number and register for VAT. They also need to obtain a vocational license from the municipality, receive a health inspection, and register with the Social Security Corporation. The World Bank Group in their Doing Business report mapped out the registration requirements in Jordan and provided a detailed summary of procedures, time, cost and legal requirements to incorporate and register a new firm in Jordan. The report compared regulations relevant to the life cycle of a small- to medium-sized domestic business in 188 economies. The most recent round of data collection was completed in June 2015 and Jordan ranked 88 out of 188. The following link provides detailed requirements for registering a business in Jordan. http://www.doingbusiness.org/data/exploreeconomies/jordan/starting-a-business/

The newly established "Investment Window" at the Jordan Investment Commission serves as a comprehensive investment center for investors. The window provides its services to both local and foreign investors, particularly those in the agricultural sector, medical, tourism, industrial, ICT-BPO and energy sectors. Following is a link to the Jordan Investment Commission website for further details on the services they provide to investors: http://www.jic.gov.jo.

Central Bank of Jordan defines small companies as those nonpublic shareholding companies with assets or sales volume less than JD one million ($1.4 million) that employ 20 employees or less. They should not be in the brokerage or insurance business. Medium companies are defined as those with assets or sales between JD one million and JD 3 million employing between 21 to 100 employees.

Industrial Promotion

The Executive Privatization Commission was replaced by the Public Private Partnership Unit at the Minister of Finance (PPP Unit) upon the passage of the Public Private Partnership Law in September 2014. The law aims to encourage the participation of the private sector in the Kingdom’s economic development and provide a legislative environment for joint projects between the two sides. Jordan is also seeking investors for a passenger and cargo rail network, and a large scale water desalination plant, among others. In 2012, Jordan passed a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Law to encourage investments in this vital sector. A draft Energy and Minerals Law is currently under parliamentary review; this law aims to open the hydrocarbon sector to local and foreign investors.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Jordan's current investment law treats foreign and local investors equally. Regulations governing foreign ownership include the following exceptions:

  • Ownership of periodical publications is restricted to Jordanian citizens or entities wholly-owned by Jordanians.
  • Foreigners are prohibited from wholly or partially owning investigation and security services, sports clubs (exception: health clubs), stone quarrying operations for construction purposes, customs clearance services, or land transportation services. The Cabinet, however, may approve foreign ownership of projects in these sectors upon the recommendation of the Investment Council, which is comprised of the Prime Minister, ministers with economic portfolios, and representatives from the private sector. To qualify for the exemption, projects have to be categorized as being highly valuable to the national economy and must employ a large number of Jordanians.
  • Investors are limited to 50 percent ownership in a number of businesses and services, including printing/publishing companies and aircraft or maritime vessel maintenance and repair services. The most up-to-date listing of limitations on investments is available in the FTA Annex 3.1 and may be found at http://www.ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/jordan-fta/final-text.

Investment and property laws allow domestic and foreign entities to establish businesses that engage in remunerative activities. Foreign companies may open regional and branch offices; branch offices may carry out full business activities, while regional offices may serve as liaisons between head offices and Jordanian or regional clients. The Ministry of Industry and Trade manages the government's policy on the setting up of regional and branch offices.

Foreign firms may not import goods without appointing an agent registered in Jordan; the agent may be a branch office or a wholly-owned subsidiary of the foreign firm. The agent's connection to the foreign company must be direct, without a sub-agent or intermediary. The Commercial Agents and Intermediaries Law govern contractual agreements between foreign firms and commercial agents. Private foreign entities, whether licensed under sole foreign ownership or as a joint venture, compete on an equal basis with local companies.

Foreign nationals and firms are permitted to own or lease property in Jordan for investment purposes and are allowed one residence for personal use, provided that their home country permits reciprocal property ownership rights for Jordanians. Depending on the size and location of the property, the Lands and Surveys Department, the Ministry of Finance, or the Cabinet are the authorities that approve foreign ownership of land and property, which must be developed within five years after the date of approval.

Privatization Program

Over the last fifteen years, the Jordanian government has engaged in a wide-scale privatization program, including in the telecom, energy and transportation, sectors. The few remaining government assets not privatized, including Jordan Silos and Supply Company, elicit little private sector interest. The majority of future projects in Jordan are expected to be public-private partnerships (PPP) rather than pure privatization deals.

Screening of FDI

Local and foreign investments are screened by the Jordan Investment Commission (JIC). In 2014 a new investment law was passed which consolidated three entities – the Jordan Investment Board and the two entities that oversee investment zones, the Jordanian Development Zones Commission and the Free Zones Corporation. They became a new entity called the Jordan Investment Commission. This law incorporates a statement of investors’ rights and a legal framework for the newly established Investment Window, which is located at the Investment Commission's headquarters.

The new law requires new governing regulations for a number of investment aspects. Currently, thirteen new sets of regulations are under different stages of review and approval by the government. The government approved 8 out of the 13 sets of regulations most importantly the regulations governing the operations of the Investment Window, Investment Incentives, tax sales system, custom procedures and registration in the development zones. They are available on the following link: http://www.jic.gov.jo/Contents/Legal.aspx.

Competition Law

A newly-drafted Competition Law which will update the 2004 Competition Law is currently under parliamentary review. The new law aims to strengthen the local economic environment and attract foreign investment by providing incentives to improve market competitiveness, protect small and medium enterprises from restrictive anticompetitive practices, and give consumers access to high quality products at competitive prices. The Competition Directorate at the Ministry of Industry and Trade conducts market research, examines complaints, and reports violators to the judicial system.

2. Conversion and Transfer PoliciesShare    

Foreign Exchange

The Jordanian Dinar (JOD) is fully convertible for all commercial and capital transactions. Since 1995, the JOD has been pegged to the U.S. dollar at an exchange rate of approximately JOD 1 to USD 1.41.

The Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) supervises and licenses currency exchange businesses. These entities are exempt from paying commissions on exchange transactions and therefore enjoy a competitive edge over banks.

Other foreign exchange regulations include the following:

  • Non-residents and residents (who must pay a commission) are allowed to open bank accounts in foreign currencies. These accounts are exempted from all transfer-related commission fees charged by the CBJ.
  • Banks are permitted to purchase unlimited amounts of foreign currency from their clients in exchange for JODs on a forward basis. Banks are permitted to sell foreign currencies in exchange for JODs on a forward basis for the purpose of covering the value of imports.
  • There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency that residents may hold in bank accounts, and there is no ceiling on the amount residents may transfer abroad. Banks do not require prior CBJ approval for a transfer of funds, including investment-related transfers. However, stricter measures are now in place to monitor wire transfers in accordance with Jordan's efforts to deter illicit cash flows.

Remittance Policies

Jordan's liberal foreign exchange law entitles foreigners to remit abroad all returns, profits, and proceeds arising from the liquidation of investment projects. Non-Jordanian workers are permitted to transfer their salaries and compensation abroad.

Jordan is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF), a FATF-style regional body. Its most recent mutual evaluation can be found at: http://www.menafatf.org/images/UploadFiles/MER_Hashemite_Kingdom_of_Jordan.pdf

3. Expropriation and CompensationShare    

Article 11 of the Jordanian Constitution stipulates that expropriations are prohibited unless deemed in the public interest. In cases of expropriation, the law also mandates the provision of fair compensation to the investor in convertible currency.

4. Dispute SettlementShare    

Legal System, Specialized Courts, Judicial Independence, Judgments of Foreign Courts

Jordan has a mixed legal system based on civil law, Sharia Law (Islamic Law) and customary law. The Constitution establishes the judiciary as one of three separate and independent branches of government. Jordanian commercial laws do not make a distinction between Jordanian and non-Jordanian investors. Rulings by U.S. courts or other international arbitration committees, however, can be upheld through the successful filing in a local domestic court of a motion called Enforcement of Ruling. Plaintiffs complain of backlogs and subsequent delays in legal proceedings.

The following laws and regulations currently govern investments in Jordan: the Companies Law, Public Private Partnership Law number 31 of 2014 and the Investment Law 30 of 2014 with its subsequent implementing regulations and Regulating Non-Jordanian Investments Regulation.

Bankruptcy

The Commercial Code, Civil Code, and Companies Law collectively govern bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings. A temporary bankruptcy law was enacted in 2002 and remains in effect. A new Insolvency and Bankruptcy draft law is currently pending Parliamentary review.

Investment Disputes

Investment disputes are dealt with as any other commercial or civil dispute in the Jordanian judicial system. Large investment agreements with the Jordanian government as a party contain a dispute resolution clause that would refer cases to arbitration in Jordan.

International Arbitration

Under domestic law, foreign investors may seek third party arbitration as a means of settling disputes. Jordan abides by WTO dispute settlement mechanisms, and dispute settlement mechanisms under the U.S.-Jordan FTA are consistent with WTO commitments. Article IX of the United States-Jordan Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) establishes procedures for dispute settlements between Jordanians and U.S. persons.

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Since 1972, Jordan has been a contracting state to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID convention) only a small number of cases between foreign investors and the Jordanian government have been brought before ICSID tribunals. Jordan is also a signatory to the convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1958 New York convention).

Duration of Dispute Resolution – Local Courts

On average, it takes three to four years for cases that go through the local court system to reach a verdict. Cases settled through arbitration take between 12 to 18 months. The main challenge regarding litigation cases is being able to conduct proper process of service upon all concerned parties. Another challenge is the lack of specialized investment and commercial courts limiting the judges’ capacity to review cases.

5. Performance Requirements and Investment IncentivesShare    

WTO/TRIMS

Investment and commercial laws in Jordan do not contain any trade-restrictive investment measures and have generally been in compliance with the WTO’s Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMS). Investment incentives take the form of income tax and customs duties exemptions, which are granted to both Jordanian and foreign investors.

The country is divided into three development areas: Zones A, B, and C. Investments in Zone C, the least developed areas of Jordan, receive the highest level of incentives while those in Zone A receive the lowest level. All agricultural, maritime, transport and railway investments are classified as Zone C, irrespective of location. Hotel and tourism-related projects along the Dead Sea coast, leisure and recreational compounds, and convention and exhibition centers receive Zone A designations. Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZs) are zoned according to their geographical location unless granted an exemption. The three-zone classification scheme does not apply to nature reserves and environmental protection areas.

Investment Incentives

Under the current Investment Law Number 30 2014, the Council of Ministers, upon the recommendation of the Investment Council, may offer a number of investment incentives in accordance with the law and governing regulations for projects outside the Development and Free Zones. The Investment Council and Investment Commission can offer some types of exemptions for projects in the following sectors:

  1. Agriculture and Livestock.
  2. Hospitals and specialized medical centers.
  3. Hotel and touristic facilities.
  4. Touristic entertainment and recreation cities.
  5. Contact and communication centers.
  6. Scientific research centers and medical laboratories.
  7. Technical and media production.

These incentives include customs exemptions, refunding of the general tax for production inputs, or zero sales tax. Automatic exemptions are also granted for specific services whether purchased locally or imported. The Income and Sales Tax Department will refund the general tax levied within thirty (30) days from submitting a written request in accordance with the terms and conditions determined by the Regulations Governing Investment Incentives number 33 of 2015.

A number of non-automatic exemptions will be granted for production requirements and assets of economic, industrial or handicrafts activities of dual-use. Such exemptions are subject to administrative procedures and approvals obtained from the Technical Committee and are also governed by the above regulation.

Investments in special economic zones and development zones will receive a minimum of 30 percent income tax waiver depending on the zone. Additional incentives are provided for projects under the Industrial Estate Corporation, and the Aqaba Special Economic Zone. For further details please visit:

Net profits generated from most export revenues are exempt from income tax. Exceptions include fertilizer, phosphate, and potash exports, in addition to exports governed by specific trade protocols and foreign debt repayment schemes. Jordan extended this regime to December 31, 2018, although it is in violation of its WTO obligations.

Research and Development

The Royal Scientific Society (RSS) is the largest applied research institution and technical support service provider in Jordan and is a regional leader in the fields of science & technology.

RSS provides expert testing services through more than twenty-five specialized locally & internationally accredited laboratories and they pride themselves in offering both the public and private sectors a unique scientific resource and a wide range of project expertise.

RSS has no restrictions to partnering with local and international organizations.

Performance Requirements

Jordan does not mandate local employment, but encourages hiring Jordanians. Jordan has a well-educated and trained labor force of the 1.8 million people, of which approximately 350,000 are registered foreign workers. Unofficial indicators speculate that unregistered foreign workers are nearly double this number. Most foreign laborers are employed in construction, agriculture, and domestic housekeeping sectors. Approximately 35,000 also work in the QIZs as textile workers. The Ministry of Labor regulates foreign worker licensing, licensing fees, prohibited sectors, and employer liability. Along with the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Labor is responsible for approving the hiring of professional foreign workers by private businesses.

Data Storage

Jordan does not follow forced localization policy, nor does it have requirements for foreign IT providers to turn over source code or provide access to surveillance.

6. Protection of Property RightsShare    

Real Property

Interest in real property is recognized and enforced once it is recorded in legal registries. The legal system facilitates and protects the acquisition and disposition of property rights.

Intellectual Property Rights

Jordan has passed several laws in compliance with international commitments to the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR). Laws consistent with Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) now protect trade secrets, plant varieties, and semiconductor chip designs. The Ministry of Culture's National Library Department is responsible for registering copyrights, and patents are registered with the Registrar of Patents and Trademarks at the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Jordan is a signatory to the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the Madrid Protocol, and accordingly, amended its patent and trademark laws in 2007 to enable ratification of the agreements. Jordan is a signatory to World Intellectual Property Organization treaties on both copyrights and on performances and phonographs, and it has been developing updated laws for copyrights, trademark standards, and customs regulations to meet international standards. Jordanian firms are able to seek joint ventures and licensing agreements with multinational partners.

Jordan's record on IPR enforcement has improved in recent years, but more effective enforcement mechanisms and legal procedures are still needed. As a result, the government's record on IPR protection remains mixed. A large portion of videos and software sold in the marketplace continues to consist of pirated goods. Enforcement action against audio/video and software piracy is growing in frequency and improving in its targeting capability, resulting in the first jail sentence in 2007 for software piracy in Jordan. Since 2000, 5,619 violations of Jordan’s current copyright law were referred to the judiciary, including 460 cases in 2014 and 361 cases in 2015. Additionally, 75 trademark violation cases were referred to court in 2015.

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/.

Resources for Rights Holders

Embassy point of contact:

Ms. Shaden al Majali
Economic Analyst
Telephone: +962 (6) 5906317
e-mail: MajaliSA@state.gov

List of Attorneys

The Embassy maintains a list of local attorneys who are familiar with Jordanian law. Following is a link to the list: List of Attorneys

7. Transparency of the Regulatory SystemShare    

Legal, regulatory and accounting policies, applicable to both domestic and foreign investors, are transparent and promote competition. However, historically red tape and opaque procedures, particularly at the local government level, presented problems for foreign and domestic investors. There is not a policy of public comment on draft legislation, although the executive branch does consult with the legislative branch.

The government is gradually implementing policies to improve competition and foster transparency. These reforms aim to change an existing system influenced in the past by family affiliations and business ties. The Jordan Investment Commission (JIC), with its newly established Investment Window, promises to streamline the investment process.

For further details: please contact:

Investment Window
Jordan Investment Commission
Telephone: +962 (6) 5608400/9 Extn: 444
P.O.Box 893
Amman 11821 Jordan
E-mail: info@jic.gov.jo

8. Efficient Capital Markets and Portfolio InvestmentShare    

There are three key capital market institutions: the regulator, Jordan Securities Commission (JSC); the exchange, Amman Stock Exchange (ASE); and the custodian for all transaction contracts, clearings, and settlements, Securities Depository Center (SDC). The 2002 Securities Law brought the law in line with international best practices. In 2011, the ASE modernized its technical infrastructure, enhancing the dissemination of information. It launched the Internet Trading Service in 2010, providing an opportunity for investors to engage in securities trading regardless of geographic location. Investors, both foreign and domestic, are permitted to open margin accounts and to engage in short-selling. Commercial banks hold securities for their clients in a sub-account format.

In spite of recent reforms and technological advances, the ASE suffers from intermittent liquidity problems and decreased trading activity. The bourse remains prone to speculative movements. The ASE's market capitalization has grown and shrunk rapidly and repeatedly since 2003. The ASE price index lost 1.85% percent in 2015 reaching 2,136 at year end. Trading volume increased by 13.6 percent to 2.5 billion from 2.2 billion shares in 2014. The number of listed companies stood at 228 at the end of 2015 compared to 236 at the end of 2014. The market capitalization of listed shares at the ASE amounted to USD 25.4 billion, equaling 66.4 percent of GDP.

Money and Banking System, Hostile Takeovers

Due to strict regulations on lending, particularly mortgage lending, and limited integration with global financial markets, Jordanian banks were reasonably resilient to international shocks. The banking sector's indicators remain strong; banks continue to be profitable and well-capitalized, and deposits are still the major funding base. Liquidity ratios and provisioning remain high, non-performing loan ratios modestly decreased over the past couple of years. The CBJ in December 2010 directed Jordanian banks to maintain a minimum JOD 100 million in capital and raised the requirement for foreign banks to JOD 50 million. Jordan does not distinguish between investment banks and commercial banks. Jordan has 25 banks in total, including commercial banks, Islamic banks, and foreign bank branches.

Banks in Jordan offer loans, discounted bills, and overdraft facilities. The CBJ permits banks to extend loans and credit facilities in foreign currency, but only for exporting purposes. In such cases, it requires debt repayment to be in the same foreign currency. A number of banks have offshore mutual funds to avoid Jordanian taxes.

The Banking Law protects depositors' interests, diminishes money market risk, guards against the concentration of lending, and includes articles on electronic banking practices and money laundering. The Credit Information Law was passed as a temporary law in 2010 laying the groundwork for the establishment of a credit bureau. In 2015, the Central Bank of Jordan selected CRiF as a strategic partner on this project. CRiF recently launched their operations in Jordan and are expected to start issuing reports in the second half of 2016.

The CBJ set up an independent Deposit Insurance Corporation (DIC) in 2000 that initially insured deposits up to JOD 10,000 (USD 14,000). DIC currently insures deposits up to JOD 50,000 (USD 71,000) and is expected to maintain the guarantee for the foreseeable future. The DIC also acts as the liquidator of banks as directed by the CBJ. The CBJ established a credit bureau for bounced checks in 2001 which requires banks to report the names of account holders with bounced checks. Following the report of one bounced check, the CBJ circulates the names of the account holders to all banks with recommendations to carefully evaluate the account holders' access to banking services.

The Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) conducts regular government debt auctions of differing maturities on behalf of the Ministry of Finance. Treasury auctions traditionally take place on a monthly or biweekly basis, depending on maturity. The government issues development bonds as necessary. Treasury bonds to the tune of USD 5 billion and Treasury bills valued USD 70 million were issued in the local market in 2015.

Foreign investors are allowed to participate in auctions and to purchase government securities through banks. Over the past few years, Jordan has successfully issued several Sovereign Eurobonds, independently and with U.S. loan guarantees, as well as domestic bonds in dollar as of November 2015 total outstanding amount was $5.4 billion

The corporate bond market remains underdeveloped and continues to be overshadowed by traditional direct lending, primarily due to the absence of proper mechanisms for corporate debt creation. A few banks, however, are introducing new products and facilitating corporate bond issuances.

In 2010, Jordan amended its existing Anti-Money Laundering Law to comply with Middle East/North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) standards. Among other things, the 2010 amendments extended the range of predicate offenses to include certain crimes that would otherwise qualify as misdemeanors, whether those offenses are committed in Jordan or abroad. The amendments also created a legal framework to address terrorist financing. As such, the law was renamed the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Law, and the existing financial intelligence unit renamed the AML/CFT Unit. The CBJ as well as other financial sector regulators are implementing the AML/CFT Law further through the issuance of circulars and other regulations under their own authority.

There are a number of internationally-recognized accounting and auditing firms in Jordan. The government's accounting and auditing regulations are consistent with international standards and are internationally recognized.

9. Competition from State-Owned EnterprisesShare    

A number of State-owned enterprises (SOEs) exist in Jordan, such as the National Electrical Power Company (NEPCO), the National Food Security Company, and the Yarmouk Water Company. These companies exercise delegated governmental powers and operate in fields that are not yet open for investment, such as managing the transmission and distribution of electrical power. The government supports these companies as necessary. As an example, the government has issued and guaranteed corporate bonds for NEPCO since 2011 to ensure continuous power supply for the country.

SOEs compete under largely equal terms with private enterprises with respect to access to markets, credit, and other business operations. The laws do not provide preferential treatment to SOEs and they are held accountable by their Board of Directors, typically chaired by the sector-relevant Minister and the Audit Bureau.

Jordan is not a party to the Government Procurement Agreement.

OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance of SOEs

The government of Jordan underwent an investment policy review by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and in November 2013 subscribed to the OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

Jordan does not have a sovereign wealth fund (SWF).

10. Responsible Business ConductShare    

There is general awareness of responsible business conduct among both manufacturers and consumers in Jordan, with many local and multinational companies voluntarily developing and adopting corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. CSR efforts focus on improving infrastructure in adjoining communities or providing better access to educational opportunities.

The government of Jordan underwent an investment policy review by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and in November 2013 subscribed to the OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises.

11. Political ViolenceShare    

While Jordan does not have a history of politically motivated violence, the threat of terrorism remains high in Jordan. Transnational terrorist groups, as well as less sophisticated local elements, have the capability to plan and implement attacks in Jordan and have carried out a number of atrocities over the last fifteen years. The Jordanian security forces, however, have demonstrated high levels of professionalism in maintaining public security, containing numerous demonstrations, and preventing terrorist attacks.

Jordan has not been immune from the tumult of region wide Arab Spring protests, and the potential for politically-motivated violence remains. Violent extremist groups in Syria and Iraq, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Jabhat al-Nusra continue to pose a threat. The potential for terrorist activity was heightened as Jordan took an active role in the coalition against ISIL. Visitors should consult current State Department public announcements at www.travel.state.gov before traveling to Jordan.

12. CorruptionShare    

Jordanian law defines corruption as any act that violates official duties, all acts related to favoritism and nepotism that could deprive others from their legitimate rights, economic crimes, and misuse of power. The use of family, business and other personal connections to advance personal business interests is endemic and regarded by many Jordanians as simply part of the culture and part of doing business. In 2006, Parliament approved a Financial Disclosure Law which officially required public office holders and specified government officials to declare their assets. Parliament also enacted an Anti-Corruption Law in 2006 that created the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to investigate allegations of corruption. In 2014, the commission referred 75 cases to the judiciary and secured 3 convictions. In Transparency International's 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index, Jordan ranked 45 out of 168 countries.

UN Anticorruption Convention, OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery

Jordan signed the UN Anti-Corruption Convention in 2003, which was ratified in 2005.

Jordan is not a party to the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery.

Resources to Report Corruption

H.E. Dr. Muhammad al-Allaf
Chairman
Anti-Corruption Commission Board
P.O. Box 5000, Amman, 11953, Jordan
+962 6 550 3150

Contact at "watchdog" organization:

Mr. Tharwat Abzakh
Acting Director
Rasheed Coalition
P.O. Box 582662, Amman, 111585, Jordan
+962 5 585 2528
t.abzakh@rasheedcoalition.org

13. Bilateral Investment AgreementsShare    

In addition to the United States, Jordan signed bilateral investment treaties with several countries including the European Union, Singapore and Canada. Jordan's bilateral investment treaty with the United States came into effect in 2003. The agreement provides reciprocal protection of Jordanian and U.S. individual and corporate investments

The U.S. Congress enacted the Qualifying Industrial Zone (QIZ) initiative in 1996 to support the Middle East peace process. Goods produced in the 13 designated QIZs in Jordan can be imported into the United States tariff and quota free under the agreement if 35 percent of the product's content comes from the QIZ, Israel, and the West Bank/Gaza. Of that 35 percent, a minimum 11.7 percent of value must be added in the QIZ, eight percent in Israel, and 15.3 percent in a Jordanian QIZ, Israel, or the West Bank/Gaza. The QIZs have attracted over USD 1 billion dollars in capital investments, generated around USD 9.2 billion dollars in exports to the U.S. between 2006 and 2013, and currently employ more than 47,000 workers; about one-quarter of whom are Jordanians. The bulk of QIZ exports continue to be garments.

The U.S.-Jordan FTA, which entered into force in 2001 and came into full effect in January 2010, does not supersede or eliminate the QIZ initiative. Nevertheless, exports under QIZ requirements considerably shrank as exporters took advantage of the FTA's broader mandate. FTA rules of origin simply require 35 percent Jordanian content without other restrictions. Jordan’s exports to the United States increased by 800 percent from 2001 to 2015 under the FTA to USD 2.6 billion.

While the U.S. remains one of Jordan's top trading partners, Jordan maintains an active trade relationship with neighboring countries and has been actively pursuing enhanced trade arrangements globally. Jordan is a member of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA), which has been in force since 1998. The GAFTA reached full trade liberalization of goods in 2005 through full exemption of customs duties and charges for all 17 Arab member states, with the exception of gradual reductions for Sudan and Yemen. Jordan has also signed trade preference agreements and bilateral free trade agreements with various Arab neighbors, including Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Tunisia, the UAE, Algeria, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, Kuwait, Sudan, and Bahrain.

An economic association agreement between Jordan and the European Union (EU) entered into force in 2002 to establish free trade over a twelve-year period. This agreement calls for the free movement of capital as well as cooperation on development and political issues. Jordan also signed a Free Trade Area Agreement in 2001 with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland); this agreement completed the transitional period in 2014.

With respect to other agreements, Jordan signed a Free Trade Agreement with Singapore in 2004. In addition to enhancing bilateral trade ties, the agreement aimed to create new export opportunities for Jordanian products worldwide through the possibility of diagonal accumulation of origin with countries that have concluded free trade agreements with both Jordan and Singapore. That same year, Jordan completed the Agadir trade agreement with Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia, and upgraded its trade agreement with Israel to take advantage of accumulation of content provisions in the European Union's Pan Euro-Mediterranean trade rules of origin. Jordan signed a Free Trade Agreement with Canada in 2009 which came into effect in October 2012. The FTA with Canada eliminates all non-agricultural tariffs and most agricultural tariffs. A similar agreement with Turkey was also signed in November 2009 and entered into effect on March 1, 2011. Jordan has also signed with Iraq a number of Memoranda of Understanding for bilateral cooperation in various sectors such as education, health, energy, transportation, and trade. The two countries have established a special free zone area at the Iraqi border to serve as a hub for industry and trade between the two countries.

14. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance ProgramsShare    

Investments in Jordan are eligible for Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) insurance and private financing. Projects require a minimum of 25 percent U.S. equity in order to qualify. Over the past several years, OPIC backed significant investments in Jordanian private equity ventures and in mortgage financing. In fact, OPIC has over USD 1 billion in investments in Jordan. OPIC is also active in financing projects in Jordan's burgeoning renewable energy sector. In 2011, OPIC signed a USD 250 million loan guarantee program to support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Jordan. OPIC previously extended a USD 250 million loan to support the USD 1 billion Disi water project to bring water to Amman from the Disi aquifer in the south.

Jordan is a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), a World Bank agency which guarantees investment against non-commercial risks such as civil war, nationalization, and policy changes. The program covers investments in Jordan irrespective of the investor's nationality in addition to Jordanian investments abroad.

15. LaborShare    

Jordan's population grew at 5.3 percent a year between 2004 and 2015 mainly due to an 18% growth in non-Jordanians as result of the regional unrest. According to the 2015 census conducted by Jordan’s Department of Statistics, the total population is 9.5 million of which 69% are Jordanians (6.6 million) and around 30% non-Jordanians including 1.3 million Syrian refugees. Nearly 65 percent of the population is estimated to be under the age of 30. Literacy rates are 95.4 percent for men and 91.1 percent for women. Jordan has a generally well-educated labor force of about 1.8 million Jordanians. According to the Department of Statistics, official unemployment in 2015 averaged 12.9 percent increasing slightly from the 12.3 percent 2014 average.

Labor unions serve primarily as intermediaries between workers and the Ministry of Labor and may engage in collective bargaining on behalf of workers. There are 17 recognized unions in Jordan, and they are all members of the General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions. Estimates put union membership at less than 10 percent of the labor force. Additionally, there are 40 professional associations active in Jordan, including many that have mandatory membership. According to official figures, about 30 percent of the total labor force, including government workers, belongs to either a union or a professional association. The law does not require employers to include retirement plans in employment packages However, if the employer agreed to provide retirement benefits when the worker was contracted, the employer must fulfill that commitment. Similarly, the law does not address the issue of layoffs; however companies with the appropriate justification may obtain a permission from the Ministry of Labor to reduce their staff as a result of restructuring the business.

The government has been reforming and strengthening its legal framework and labor inspections since 2006. It amended its labor law in 2008 to expand coverage to domestic workers, formalize a tripartite Labor Affairs Committee, increase fines for violations of the labor law, and include sexual harassment provisions. Over the past few years, the Ministry expanded efforts to investigate allegations of child labor and to monitor hazardous working conditions in the country. In the past, Ministry of Labor inspections identified problems at some QIZ factories related to delayed payment of wages, length of overtime, and physical abuse of workers. The Better Work Jordan program was launched in 2008 as a five-year joint project between the Ministry of Labor, the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the International Finance Corporation to improve garment sector labor standards and conditions and raise compliance levels through public reporting and technical assistance. The Ministry of Labor made the program mandatory for all factories and subcontracting factories exporting to the U.S. or Israel as of December 2010. In 2013, the GOJ and stakeholders in the garment industry reached the first collective-bargaining agreement in Jordan's history.

16. Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade FacilitationShare    

Jordan’s 2014 investment law merged the Development and Free Zones Commission (DFZC) into the newly formed Jordan Investment Commission, an independent governmental body responsible for creating, regulating, and monitoring Jordan's free trade zones, industrial estates and the five development zones. The Investment Commission’s mission is to increase foreign direct investment (FDI) through the enhancement of the investment environments inside these zones. The President of the Commission and the administrative team supervise and centrally approve investment-related matters within the guidelines set by the Investment Council and approved by the government. The Investment Commission can expedite the provision of government services and provide a number of investment incentives, tax and customs exemptions. The five development areas are the King Hussein Bin Talal Development Area (KHBTDA) in Mafraq, the Ma'an Development Area, the Irbid Development Area (IDA), the Dead Sea Development Zone, and the Jabal Ajloun Development Zone.

The Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ) is an independent economic zone not governed by the Investment Commission or the articles in the Investment Law 30/2014 governing investments in free zones or development zones. It offers special tax exemptions, a flat five percent income tax, and facilitates customs handling at Aqaba Port. In recent years, ASEZ has attracted projects mainly in hotel and property development valued at over USD 8 billion. The government continues to implement development projects aimed at attracting commerce and tourism through the Port of Aqaba. The Aqaba New Port project, initiated in 2010 with completion expected in late 2017 includes relocating the current port 20 km south, adding four new terminals, and expanding ship berthing, marine services, and capacity, including for energy resources such as natural gas, phosphates, and propane. In early 2014, Jordan announced a new public-private partnership committee tasked with enhancing Aqaba’s investment climate.

As part of Jordan's efforts to foster economic development and enhance its investment climate, the government has created geographically demarcated industrial estates, free zones, and special economic zones. The semi-governmental Jordan Industrial Estates Corporation (JIEC) currently owns six public industrial estates in Irbid, Karak, Aqaba, Amman, Ma'an and Muwaqar. In early 2014, Jordan announced plans for a new industrial site in Balqa governorate to help fulfil a government goal of establishing industrial sites in each Jordanian governorate. There are also several privately-run industrial parks in Jordan, including al-Mushatta, al-Tajamouat, al-Dulayl, Cyber City, al-Qastal, Jordan Gateway, and al-Hallabat. These estates provide basic infrastructure networks for a wide variety of manufacturing activities, reducing the cost of utilities and providing cost-effective land and factory buildings. Investors in the estates will continue to receive their incentives until the current contracts expire and will also receive various exemptions, including a two-year exemption on income and social services taxes, complete exemptions from building and land taxes, and exemptions or reductions on most municipalities' fees.

Jordan also has public free zones in Zarqa, Sahab, Karak, Karama, and Queen Alia Airport that are run by the publicly-owned Free Zone Corporation (FZC). Over 30 private free zones have also been designated and are administered by private companies under the FZC's supervision. The free zones are outside of the jurisdiction of Jordan Customs, and provide a duty and tax-free environment for the storage of goods transiting Jordan.

Both nationals and foreign investors have few restrictions in trade, services, and industrial projects in free zones. Industrial projects must be related to one of the following industries:

  • New industries that depend on advanced technology;
  • Industries that require locally available raw material and/or locally manufactured parts;
  • Industries that complement domestic industries;
  • Industries that enhance labor skills and promote technical know-how; or,
  • Industries that provide consumer goods and that contribute to reducing market dependency on imported goods.

17. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment StatisticsShare    

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

 

Host Country Statistical source

USG or international statistical source

USG or International Source of Data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other

Economic Data

Year

Amount

Year

Amount

 

Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD)

2014

USD 35.9 billion

2014

USD 35.8 billion

www.worldbank.org/en/country

Foreign Direct Investment

Host Country Statistical source

USG or international statistical source

USG or international Source of data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other

U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)

N/A

N/A

2014

USD 249 million

http://bea.gov/international/factsheet/factsheet.cfm?Area=505

Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions)

N/A

N/A

2014

USD-76

http://bea.gov/international/factsheet/factsheet.cfm?Area=505

Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Jordan does not maintain official detailed statistics of FDI but aggregate tracked by the Central Bank of Jordan give an indication of the overall volume. In 2015, total FDI reached $ 1,277 million.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Portfolio Investment Assets

Top Five Partners (Millions, US Dollars)

Total

Equity Securities

Total Debt Securities

All Countries

622

100%

All Countries

135

100%

All Countries

488

100%

The above table shows portfolio investments in Jordan according to Central Bank of Jordan statistics at the end of 2015. Central Bank of Jordan does not maintain a breakdown by country.

18. Contact for More InformationShare    

Shereen al Uzaizi
Senior Economic Specialist
E-mail: uzaiziss@state.gov
Tel: 962-6-590 6642