Jordan

Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
Report
July 19, 2018

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Executive SummaryShare    

Jordan is a Middle Eastern country centrally located on desert plateaus in southwest Asia and strategically positioned to serve as a regional business platform. 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. Jordan is also uniquely poised geopolitically to host investments focused on the reconstruction of Iraq, Syria, and projects in other regional markets.

In 2014, Jordan endorsed a new Public Private Partnership Law and Investment Law. The PPP law is intended to support government’s commitment to broadening the utilization of the public-private sectors partnership, and allowing the private sector to take have a larger stake in overall economic activity, The Investment Law grants equal treatment to local and foreign investors and grants specific incentives for local and foreign investment in industry, agriculture, tourism, hospitals, transportation, energy, and water distribution.

In 2017, Jordan implemented additional legislative reforms, passing amendments to the companies’ law, and a law to regulate and unify monitoring, as well as the inspection of economic activities. More laws are in the pipeline to be endorsed in 2018, including the Bankruptcy Law, Movable Assets and Secured Lending Law, and a revised Income Tax Law.

Jordan’s economy grew 2 percent during 2017, despite ongoing challenges both domestically and in the region. The government pursued economic reform measures as part of its International Monetary Fund (IMF) Extended Fund Facility program, which began in August 2016.

Jordan’s economic growth has been slow due to the regional security environment, the 2015 closure of Jordan's borders with Iraq (reopened in August 2017) and Syria, and the influx of refugees, particularly from Syria. The government was able to reduce its near-term financing gap with savings from reform measures, loans, and foreign assistance. Notwithstanding the regional environment, the general investment outlook for Jordan remains favorable; which is reflected in the 19 percent increase in Foreign Direct Investments in the first nine months of 2017, compared to the same period of 2016.

International reports show positive development in Jordan’s overall investment environments, The Kingdom has advanced 15 points from 118th to 103rd on the World Bank’s “Doing Business Report 2018”, and 7 points from 56th to 49th on the Global Entrepreneurship Index 2017. Moreover, Jordan ranked 67th best economy worldwide in Forbes’ 12th annual survey of the Best Countries for Business, up by 4 points from its level in 2016, and 12 points from 70th to 58th on Global Talent Competitiveness Index.

Table 1

Measure

Year

Index/Rank

Website Address

TI Corruption Perceptions Index

2017

59 of 180

http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview

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

2018

103 of 190

http://www.doingbusiness.org/rankings

Global Innovation Index

2017

83 of 127

https://www.globalinnovation
index.org/analysis-indicator

U.S. FDI in Partner Country ($M USD, stock positions)

2016

USD 213

http://www.bea.gov/
international/factsheet/

World Bank GNI per capita

2016

USD 3,920

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

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign InvestmentShare    

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

Jordan is largely open to foreign investment, and the government encourages and supports foreign investment. Foreign and local investors are treated equally under the law. The Jordan Investment Commission is responsible for implementing the 2014 Investment Law and promoting new and existing investment in Jordan, including through simplifying investment procedures. The Investment Council, established by the law, which is comprised of the Prime Minister, ministers with economic portfolios, and representatives from the private sector, is responsible for developing national investment policies and strategies and recommending legislative and economic reforms to facilitate investment.

In 2017, the Jordanian government introduced a new ministerial portfolio for Investment affairs, and assigned the Minister of State for Investment Affairs as the President of Jordan Investment Commission.

Investment Law No. 30/2014 identifies the Commission to be the key reference point for investors and grants additional authorities to the Investment Window to facilitate and accelerate investment registration.

The President of the Commission and the administrative team supervises 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 investment window provides information and technical assistance to investors, facilitates and reviews licensing processes, helps investors overcome any obstructions, and promotes economic activities. The commission is currently in process to upgrade its investment aftercare services.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

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, Trade, and Supply’s Companies Control Department manages the government's policy on the setting up of regional and branch offices.

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, and/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.

Regulations governing foreign ownership include the following exceptions:

  • 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, and bakeries of all kinds, and prohibited from trading in weapons and fireworks. The Cabinet, however, may approve foreign ownership of projects in these sectors upon the recommendation of the Investment Council. 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 the ownership of periodical publications, printing/publishing companies, aircraft or maritime vessel maintenance and repair services, land transportation services, retail and wholesale trading, However, according to the Bilateral Investment Treaty with Jordan, U.S. investors are granted exceptions and are accorded the same treatment as Jordanian nationals, so U.S. investors are allowed to maintain 100 percent ownership in some restricted businesses. 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.
  • 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 No. 28/2001 governs 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.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

Jordan has been a World Trade Organization (WTO) member since 2000. The WTO conducted Jordan’s second Trade Policy Review in November 2015.

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.

Business Facilitation

Businesses in Jordan need to register with the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Supply’ s Companies Control Department, register Chambers of Commerce or Industry depending on the type of business they conduct, open a bank account, obtain a tax identification number, and obtain a VAT number. They also need to obtain a vocational license from the municipality, receive a health inspection, and register with the Social Security Corporation.

In November 2017, the Jordanian government issued a decision to cancel all non-security related pre-approvals for registering a business and have them as condition to be achieved before starting operations.

The "Investment Window" at the Jordan Investment Commission (www.jic.gov.jo) 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 (Information and Communications Technology)-Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), and energy sectors.

In 2017, the Commission streamlined procedures to register and license investment projects, introducing a Fast Track Investment Window, where the number of committees needed for approval has been cut down from 23 to 13, and registration procedures have been reduced from 15 to 5. The decrease in the number of committees aims to reduce the bureaucracy of the ministry, as well as reduce the number of procedures related to the registration and licensing of investment projects in investment zones, and the time period required to register in development zones from five days to one day.

Additionally, it will reduce the time period needed to grant or renew the investor card (an ID card for investors which facilitates various transactions) from five working days to two, reduce the time period to grant exemptions under the investment law from two weeks to one, and reduce the time period to grant exemptions under the decisions of the prime minister from seven days to one.

Jordan has also adopted a single security approval to replace around 11 approvals that were required for new investors; the new approval will cover registering and licensing the company, obtaining driving licenses for investors, possessing immovable property for the establishment of investment projects in the industrial and developing zones, in addition to granting residence permits to non-Jordanian investors and their family members. The Companies Control Department has developed a portal for online registration; which is in the testing phase in preparation for launching in 2018.

The World Bank Group in its 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. In the 2018 report, Jordan ranked 103 out of 190, with 12 days needed to complete registration.

Outward Investment

Jordan does not have a mechanism in place to incentivize outward investments; however the government has signed 57 Bilateral Investment Treaties, with 42 currently being fully enforced.

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation TreatiesShare    

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 and 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, 8 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 in capital investments, generated around USD 9.2 billion 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.

While the United States remains one of Jordan's top trading partners, and largest export market, 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 United Arab Emirates (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. In 2016, Jordan and the European Union agreed on new rules of origin designed to facilitate Jordanian exports to the EU manufactured with set percentages of Syrian labor content. Jordan and the EU are discussing potential revisions to this agreement.

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; in early 2018 Jordan announced its intention to suspend this agreement within six months. 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.

Jordan concluded double taxation avoidance agreements with 31 countries including the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt, Algeria, and Tunisia, in addition to Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Turkey, and others. Jordan signed its first double taxation agreement in 1981 with Romania, and the latest with Saudi Arabia in 2018. The terms of each agreement varies to match the priorities of each signatory, but often include income tax, corporate tax, capital gain, social service tax, and gains generated by the alienation of movable and immovable property.

Jordan does not have a double taxation agreement with the United States.

3. Legal RegimeShare    

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Legal, regulatory and accounting policies, applicable to both domestic and foreign investors, are transparent and promote competition. However, historically red tape and bureaucratic 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 and key stakeholders.

The government is gradually implementing policies to improve competition and foster transparency in implementation. These reforms aim to change an existing system influenced in the past by family affiliations and business ties. The Jordan Investment Commission (JIC), through its Fast Track Investment Window, introduced a number of measures to streamline the investment process.

For further details please contact:

Investment Window
Jordan Investment Commission
Telephone: +962 (6) 5608400/9 Ext: 120
P.O.Box 893
Amman 11821 Jordan
E-mail: info@jic.gov.jo

International Regulatory Considerations

Jordan recognizes and accepts most U.S. standards and specifications. However, Jordan has sometimes required that imports meet additional product standards. Some measures with the potential to be viewed as barriers to trade are imposed periodically, such as a 2014 restriction imposed on packaging sizes for poultry available for retail resale.

As a member country of the WTO, Jordan is obliged to notify all draft technical regulations to the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT).

Jordan is a signatory of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. As of March, 2018, Jordan implemented 81.5 percent of its commitments. Jordan has submitted its notifications for Category A before the agreement came into force, and is currently in the final review for categories B and C.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

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. However, plaintiffs complain of judicial backlogs and subsequent delays in legal proceedings.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

Jordan’s Investment Law governs local and foreign investment. The law consolidated three entities – the Jordan Investment Board, the Jordanian Development Zones Commission, and the Free Zones Corporation – into the Jordan Investment Commission. The 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 law requires governing regulations for a number of investment aspects. Currently, a number of economic regulations are under different stages of review and approval by the government.

In September 2017, Parliament passed the Monitoring and Inspection of Economic Activities Law No. 33 / 201, and amendments to Jordan’s Companies Law No. 34 /2017, which provides for legal requirements necessary to establish venture capital companies established for purposes of direct investment or for creating funds to contribute or invest in high-growth companies that are not listed in the stock market.

Other legislation in the pipeline include: the Bankruptcy Law, Movable Assets and Secured Lending Law and the Income Tax Law.

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 to other international markets. The government's efforts have made Jordan's official investment climate welcoming; however, some U.S. investors have reported hidden costs, due to bureaucratic red tape, vague regulations, and conflicting jurisdictions.

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

The Jordanian parliament passed amendments to Competition Law No. 33/2004 in 2011 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, Trade, and Supply conducts market research, examines complaints, and reports violators to the judicial system.

Expropriation and Compensation

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.

Dispute Settlement

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).

In January 2018, the Parliament passed amendments to Arbitration Law 2017, which aims to facilitate the use of arbitration as an alternative to dispute settlement procedures.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

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.

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 generally contain a dispute resolution clause that would refer cases to arbitration in Jordan.

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.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

Rulings by U.S. courts or other international arbitration committees can be upheld through the successful filing in a Jordanian court of a motion called Enforcement of Ruling.

Bankruptcy Regulations

The Commercial Code, Civil Code, and Companies Law collectively govern bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings. In December 2017, the cabinet endorsed a bankruptcy bylaw which stipulates procedures for optional and compulsory liquidation, along with the mechanism, liquidation plan, and required documentation and reporting. A draft Insolvency and Bankruptcy Law is currently pending Parliamentary review.

4. Industrial PoliciesShare    

Investment Incentives

Under Investment Law No. 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 sites;
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. JIC can provide investors with further information on these exemptions. 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 Jordan Investment Commission Technical Committee and are also governed by the above regulation.

Article 8-A of the 2014 Investment Law allows the cabinet to grant additional advantages, exemptions, or incentives to any economic activities in the Kingdom. Under this article, the cabinet granted additional incentives to the ICT, tourism, and transport sectors in 2016, decisions published in the Official Gazette.

Net profits generated from most export revenues are exempt from income tax until December 2018, when the exemption will be eliminated. Exceptions include fertilizer, phosphate, and potash exports, in addition to exports governed by specific trade protocols and foreign debt repayment schemes.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

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.

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, 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.

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 development zones. The 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, the Jabal Ajloun Development Zone, and the King Hussein Business Park Development Zone. The Investment Law assigns the Jordan Industrial Estates Corporation (JIEC) and the Development and Free Zones Corporation (DFZC) as main developers of industrial estates and development and free zones, under the supervision of the Investment Commission.

As part of Jordan's efforts to foster economic development and enhance its investment climate, the government has created four industrial estates in Amman, Irbid, Karak, and Aqaba, in addition to several privately-run industrial parks, 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 incentives until their 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.

Besides the six public free zones in Zarqa, Sahab, Karak, Karama, Mowaqaar, and Queen Alia Airport. Jordan has over 37 designated private free zones administered by private companies under the DFZC'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.

Jordan announced plans for new specialized development zones in a number of governorates including two solar parks in Ma’an and Ajloun, and four new industrial parks in Salt, Madaba, Tafileh, and Jarash.

The Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ) is an independent economic zone not governed by the Investment Commission or the articles in the Investment Law 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, is expected to become operational May 2018 and 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.

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.

For further details please visit:

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

Jordan does mandate local employment at different percentages depending on the sector.

Jordan has a well-educated and trained labor force of 2.5 million people, of which approximately 700,000 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 70,005 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.

To date, Jordan has no forced localization policy.

Jordan does not have requirements for foreign IT providers to turn over source code or provide access to surveillance.

5. 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.

Foreign ownership of Jordanian land and assets is governed by The Leasing of Immovable Assets and Their Sale to Non-Jordanian and Judicial Persons Law No. 47/2006. As per Article 3 of the law, provided that the buyer’s country of residence maintains a reciprocal relationship, foreign nationals are afforded the right of ownership of property within urban borders in Jordan for residential purposes. According to the law, foreign nationals may rent immovable assets for business or accommodation purposes, provided that the plot of land does not exceed 10 acres and the lease is for no more than 3 years.

All land plots in Jordan have titles and are registered with the Jordanian Land and Survey Department; all other land is considered federal property.

According to the Ease of Doing Business report of 2018, Jordan ranked 72 out of 190 countries in “Registering Property”; 66.41 is the Distance to Frontier (DTF). (http://www.doingbusiness.org/data/exploretopics/registering-property).

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.

In 2017, Jordan acceded to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT); the treaty entered into force Oct 2017.

Jordan's record on IPR enforcement has improved in recent years, but more effective enforcement mechanisms and legal procedures are still needed. A large portion of videos and software sold in the marketplace continues to consist of pirated content. 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, 5,793 violations of Jordan’s current copyright law were referred to the judiciary, including 174 cases in 2017 and 317 cases in 2016. Trademark incursions are notable in franchising among other sectors. Overall, 33 trademark violation cases were referred to court in 2016.

As a resource for American stakeholders and to improve IPR systems in Jordan and the region, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office places an Intellectual Property Attaché for the Middle East and North Africa region based in the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait City, Kuwait. Please see: https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/ip-policy/intellectual-property-rights-ipr-attach-program/ip-attach-kuwait for contact information.

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

A list of local attorneys with experience assisting American citizens and U.S. companies can be found at: https://jo.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/attorneys/.

6. Financial SectorShare    

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

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. 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 ASE launched an Internet Trading Service in 2010, providing an opportunity for investors to engage in securities trading regardless of geographic location.

Jordan’s market is among the most open among its regional competitors, as there are no caps in place for foreign ownership. Non-Jordanian ownership in companies listed at the ASE by the end of 2017 represented 48.1 percent of the total market value, 35.9 percent for Arab investors and 12.2percent for non-Arab investors. Currently, U.S. investment is the sixth largest in the market and is valued at $781 million, with 2,226 investors owning some 46.4 million shares.

In spite of recent reforms and technological advances, the ASE suffers from intermittent liquidity problems and decreased trading activity. The ASE's market capitalization has grown and shrunk rapidly and repeatedly since 2003. Jordan’s financial market reached its height in 2007-2008, where average trading volumes topped $118 million daily. Following the global economic downturn, the market declined precipitously, with market capitalization falling from $41 billion in 2007 to $23.8 billion as of Dec 31, 2017. Liquidity in the market has diminished, as roughly $16.7 million trade hands daily. The bourse remains prone to speculative movements.

The ASE price index increased 4 percent at the end of February 2018 compared to its level at the end of 2017 to stand at 2,219.7 points. Trading volume increased by 26 percent in 2017 to reach $4 billion value of shares, and the number of traded shares stood at 1.7 billion down by 7 percent to 1.8 billion at the end of 2016. The number of listed companies stood at 194 at the end of 2017 compared to 224 at the end of 2016.

Money and Banking System

Jordan has 25 banks, including commercial banks, Islamic banks, and foreign bank branches. Jordan does not distinguish between investment banks and commercial banks. Due to strict regulations on lending, particularly mortgage lending, and limited integration with global financial markets, 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, and non-performing loan ratios modestly decreased over the past couple of years. Jordan’s rate of non-performing loans, as a percentage of all bank loans, was 4.2 percent in 2017.

The banking law does not discriminate between local and foreign banks. However, the minimum capital requirement differs with 50 million Jordanian Dinar (JD or JOD) (USD 70.6 million) for foreign banks and JD 100 million (USD 141 million) for local banks.

The Banking Law No.28 / 2000 protects depositors' interests, diminishes money market risk, guards against the concentration of lending, and includes articles on electronic banking practices and money laundering. The CBJ set up an independent Deposit Insurance Corporation (DIC) in 2000 that insures deposits up to JOD 50,000 (USD 71,000). The DIC also acts as the liquidator of banks as directed by the CBJ.

There is no legal impediment to applying Blockchain technologies in banking transactions; on the contrary, the Central Bank is supportive of adopting the technology and is running two pilot projects deploying Blockchain technologies for the Mobile Payment System (JoMoPay), and the verification of banks documents.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange 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.

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

Remittance Policies

Jordanian 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.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

Jordan does not have a sovereign wealth fund.

7. State-Owned EnterprisesShare    

A number of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) exist in Jordan. Currently, 17 SOEs of different sizes and mandates are fully owned by the government. Five were established in 2016 and are not yet operational. Assets of wholly-owned SOEs exceed $11 billion, and SOEs employ around 3000 individuals.

Few are considered large in terms of the size of operations, assets, number of employees, and income. Those that are include: National Electrical Power Company (NEPCO), Samra Electric Power Company, the Yarmouk Water Company, and Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC).

Jordan’s economy is mainly led by the private sector, which creates 71 percent of GDP and 75 percent of net cumulative investment. SOEs in Jordan are mainly established to bridge the gap between the government and the private sector; they 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 and water. Other activities include logistics, mining, storage and inventory management of strategic products, in addition to economic development activities. The government supports these companies as necessary. As an example, the government has issued and guaranteed Treasury 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.

The government, enterprises and NGOs are progressively taking initiatives to incorporate Responsible Business Conduct into their practices.

Jordan is not a party to the Government Procurement Agreement.

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.

8. 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 predominantly focus on improving infrastructure in adjoining communities or providing better access to educational opportunities.

The amended companies’ law regulates the work of companies through applying the rules of company governance and enhancing the monitoring authorities of shareholders at public liability companies.

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.

9. CorruptionShare    

Jordan was the first Middle-Eastern country to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2005 and has initiated several reforms in similar spirit over the last two decades; including a code of conduct for the public sector in 2006. Furthermore, the government drafted an action plan to address corruption with Jordan’s National Integrity System (NIS), developed in 2012.

Jordanian Anti-Corruption 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. However, the use of family, business, and other personal connections to advance personal business interests is endemic and regarded by many Jordanians as part of the culture. 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 2016, the Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission (“IACC”) came into force by Law No. 13/2016 (“IACC Law”). Two Authorities were merged into one, with the cancelling of the Bureau of Ombudsman Law No. 11 of 2008 and the Anti-Corruption Law No. 62/2006.

Other related laws include: Penal/Criminal Code, Anti-Money Laundering Law, Right to Access Information Law, Economic Crimes Law, and the Law of Illicit Enrichment.

The American Chamber of Commerce published in 2016 a framework code of conduct for the private sector to be approved by the Jordan Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission (JIACC). In addition, there have been programs released and revised by the Jordanian government such as the Golden List Program. The Customs Department released and revised a Golden List Program, which encourages good corporate citizenship amongst trading companies and international best practice for trade across borders.

The IACC received 650 new complaints about corruption in the first half of the year. In response it opened investigations into 108 cases, referred two cases for prosecution, and referred 166 for administrative action; 289 remain pending. The IACC prosecutors filed charges in 55 corruption cases in the first half of this year. Charges included embezzlement, fraud, forgery, bribery, wasting public funds, theft, failure to carry out job duties, lack of jurisdiction, and use of a stamp of a general directorate.

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

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at government agency or agencies are responsible for combating corruption:

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

Contact at "watchdog" organization:

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

10. Political and Security EnvironmentShare    

While Jordan does not have a history of politically motivated violence, the threat of terrorism remains high in Jordan. Terrorist organizations, including the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), its affiliates, and sympathizers, have successfully conducted attacks in Jordan and continue to plot assaults in the country. Jordan's prominent role in the counter-ISIL Coalition and its shared borders with Iraq and Syria increase the potential for future terrorist incidents. Within the last year, Jordanian authorities have notified the U.S. Embassy of several disrupted terrorist plots targeting U.S. citizens and Westerners. Visitors should consult current State Department public announcements at www.travel.state.gov before traveling to Jordan.

11. Labor Policies and PracticesShare    

According to the 2015 census conducted by the Department of Statistics, the total population is 9.5 million of which 69 percent are Jordanians (6.6 million) and around 30 percent non-Jordanians including 1.3 million Syrian refugees. UNCHR has registered 659,063 Syrian refugees in Jordan.

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 2017 reached 18.5 percent.

According to law, certain types of work are restricted to Jordanians only. However, employers may request the Ministry of Labor to review applications, generally approved, for foreign workers in restricted sectors if local expertise cannot be found. Local labor requirement in development and free zones varies based on the type of economic activity.

Labor unions serve primarily as intermediaries between workers and the Ministry of Labor (MOL) and may engage in collective bargaining on behalf of workers. There are 17 recognized unions that 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, 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. There is a labor mechanism in place for labor dispute resolution beginning with labor inspector mediation. If mediation fails, the case is reviewed by the Minister of Labor, followed by the Conciliation Council then finally to the labor court under the Magistrate and Penalty Court to revolve the case within seven days.

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. The law addresses layoffs to include required ministerial notification and guarantee of legitimate and entitled benefits and severance, but also allows firing without prior notice on certain conditions. Companies with the appropriate justification may obtain permission from the (MOL) to reduce their staff as a result of business restructuring. The social security system provides up to six months of unemployment benefits.

In 2017, Jordan passed flexible hour and child daycare laws. The flexible hours’ law enshrines flexible hour agreements as a negotiation between employer and employee but does not make these agreements an employee right. The childcare law requires a business of at least 20 female employees with children between the age of 1 day and 4 years to provide daycare services.

The government has been reforming and strengthening its legal framework and labor inspections since 2006. In 2010, Jordan fully implemented its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States, which requires Jordan to continuing making improvements on labor rights issues.

The Better Work Jordan program (BWJ), funded by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), was launched in 2008 as a 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. In 2016, USDOL removed the Jordanian garment industry from its “List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.” Following its successes, BWJ is expanding its mandate to cover manufacturing and industrial sectors in order to facilitate their obligations to the European Union’s new relaxed rules of origin trade agreement requirements.

12. 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 and established, the Jordan Loan Guarantee Facility (JLGF) in partnership with USAID, as an inclusive finance activity aimed at improving access to finance for small and medium sized enterprises 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.

13. 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)

2016

USD38,763

2016

USD38,655

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

2016

USD213

BEA data available at
https://bea.gov/international/
factsheet/factsheet.cfm?Area=505

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

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

BEA data available at http://bea.gov/international/direct_investment_
multinational_companies_comprehensive_data.htm

Total Inbound Stock of FDI as % host GDP

2016

101%

N/A

N/A

N/A


Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data

From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)

Inward Direct Investment

Outward Direct Investment

Total Inward

Amount

100%

Total Outward

Amount

100%

Saudi Arabia

3,783

18.1%

N/A

Kuwait

3,239

15.5%

 

United States

1,647

7.9%

 

United Arab Emirates

1,616

7.7%

 

Iraq

1,479

7.1%

 

"0" reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Statistics are from 2009 data
Source: http://data.imf.org/?sk=40313609-F037-48C1-84B1-E1F1CE54D6D5&sId=1482186404325


Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Portfolio Investment Assets

Top Five Partners (Millions, US Dollars)

Total

Equity Securities

Total Debt Securities

All Countries

Amount

100%

All Countries

Amount

100%

All Countries

Amount

100%

USA

3,940

64%

USA

154

29%

USA

3,786

68%

West Bank and Gazza

764

12.4

Lebanon

122

23%

West Bank and Gazza

763

14%

Luxemburg

414

7%

UK

111

21%

Luxemburg

400

7%

UK

211

3%

Cayman Island

83

15%

Ireland

119

2%

Ireland

127

2%

Kuwait

37

7%

Germany

110

1.9%

Statistics are from June 2017 data
Source: http://data.imf.org/regular.aspx?key=60587804

14. Contact for More InformationShare    

Shaden Al-Majali
Senior Economic Specialist
Al Umawyeen Street-Amman
+962 (6) 590-6317
MajaliSA@state.gov