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 as a platform to host investments focused on the reconstruction of Iraq and other projects in regional markets.
Jordan is committed to the promotion of investments as a key driver of economic growth and job creation, though in practice these policies face implementation challenges. The Government of Jordan offers a range of incentives to potential investors and has undertaken measures to review and enhance the economic, financial, and legal framework governing the investment process to take better advantage of available opportunities and spur growth through investment. However, despite improvement on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business report, doing business in Jordan is more difficult than elsewhere in the region.
Jordan’s economic growth has been limited for over a decade by exogenous shocks, starting with the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, followed by the Arab Spring in 2011 which resulted in interruptions of energy imports, the 2015 closure of Jordan’s borders with Iraq (reopened in August 2017 but still not flourishing) and Syria (partially re-opened in 2018), and an influx of Syrian refugees. Over this period, the government consistently ran large annual budget deficits but has been able to reduce the financing gap with loans, foreign assistance, and savings from economic reform measures enacted as part of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) Extended Fund Facility programs. On March 25, 2020, the IMF Board approved a $1.3 billion Extended Fund Facility program for Jordan centered on fiscal consolidation, increased revenue collection, targeted social spending, economic growth, and job creation.
After growing by two percent in 2019, Jordan’s economy contracted by 1.6 percent in 2020 according to Department of Statistics data, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The IMF estimates it will grow at 2.0 percent in 2021, though this number could be revised down as the effects of the pandemic’s second wave continue. Early in the pandemic, the Government of Jordan implemented a set of measures to contain the spread of the virus, which entailed a strict curfew and lockdown of schools, colleges, and 75 percent of all economic activity. The economy gradually re-opened after the initial lockdowns, although evening and Friday curfews persisted through much of 2020 and into 2021. The IMF has released additional credit from a Rapid Financing Instrument to help Jordan manage its fiscal obligations during the pandemic.
Jordan introduced plans to mitigate the pandemic’s negative impact on the economy in both the short and medium terms. The Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) injected JD 1.5 billion ($2.1 billion) to increase liquidity in the banking system. It also lowered the lending rate by 1.5 percent. The CBJ launched a JD 500 million ($706 million) loan guarantee program at competitive interest rates to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) resume their operations and pay their operational costs; this loan guarantee program increased in March 2021 to JD 700 million ($988 million). The CBJ also raised credit ceilings for the tourism sector and encouraged banks to reschedule and defer loans for those affected by the crisis through the end of 2021.
King Abdullah II activated the National Defense Law on March 17, 2020. Since then, the Government of Jordan has enacted 25 defense orders which stipulate measures to offset the socioeconomic impact of COVID-related restrictions and protect the economy. (List of all Defense Orders on Prime Ministry’s website in Arabic) . The government also announced measures to alleviate financial and operational burdens on businesses by postponing General Sales Tax (GST) payment and customs fees, reducing the cost of labor by exempting companies from paying social security retirement insurance for three months starting in March 2020, reducing energy costs for the industrial sector, reducing inspection rate of imported essential products, and halting judicial procedures on defaulting individuals/companies. The government issued Defense Order 6 which aims to protect employees’ rights and bans layoffs. It addressed employment conditions in the private sector, including required salary payments and temporary closure of entities/institutions largely hit by the pandemic.
The Social Security Corporation (SSC), in coordination with the government, initiated a number of programs to support workers in most affected sectors and their employers, including the relief program “Estidama,” launched in December 2020 to subsidize the salaries of workers in the sectors most affected by COVID.
Even while Jordan’s economy struggles, international metrics indicate Jordan’s investment regulatory environment is improving. Jordan was selected as one of the top three most improved business climates in the World Bank’s “Doing Business Report 2020,” jumping 29 places from 104 to 75. Jordan advanced 33 points in the simplified tax services index for implementing an electronic filing and payment system for labor taxes. In ease of getting credit, Jordan ranked on par with the United States and Australia. Despite this progress, many investors complain the business environment continues to be challenging due to excessive red tape, shifting interpretations of laws and regulations, difficulties starting and exiting businesses, and other factors.
The Jordanian Investment Law grants equal treatment to local and foreign investors and incentivizes investments in industry, agriculture, tourism, hospitals, transportation, energy, and water distribution. In December 2020, the government submitted amendments to address loopholes related to tax breaks; the proposal is now awaiting parliamentary approval. The ongoing process to rationalize the tax structure and close tax loopholes may reduce incentives offered to foreign investors.
In January 2020, the Jordan Investment Commission (JIC) implemented an investor grievances bylaw which enables investors to file complaints concerning decisions issued by government agencies. Jordan also endorsed a new Public Private Partnership Law in 2020 to support the government’s commitment to broadening the utilization of the public-private partnerships and encouraging the private sector to play a larger role in overall economic activity.
Despite the pandemic, Foreign Direct Investment dropped only by 1.8 percent to JD 390 million ($551 million, equivalent to 1.7 percent of GDP) in the first three quarters of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
|TI Corruption Perceptions Index||2020||60 of 180||http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview|
|World Bank’s Doing Business Report||2020||75 of 190||http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings|
|Global Innovation Index||2020||81 of 129||https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator|
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions)||2019||$179||https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/|
|World Bank GNI per capita||2019||$4,410||http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD|
4. Industrial Policies
Under Investment Law No. 30/2014, the Council of Ministers, upon the recommendation of the Investment Council, may offer 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 also offer certain exemptions for projects in the following sectors:
1. Agriculture and livestock
2. Hospitals and specialized medical centers
3. Hotel and touristic facilities
4. Tourism-related entertainment and recreation
5. Contact and communication centers
6. Scientific research centers and medical laboratories
7. Technical and media production
Such incentives include customs exemptions, refunding of the general tax for production inputs, and no sales tax. JIC can provide investors with further information on these exemptions ( https://www.jic.gov.jo/en/incentives-outside-the-dz-and-fz/ ). 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 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 are granted for production requirements and fixed assets used in industrial or handicrafts activities. Such exemptions are subject to administrative procedures and approvals obtained from the Jordan Investment Commission Technical Committee and are governed by the previously referenced 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, as published in the Official Gazette.
Net profits generated from most exports were exempt from income tax until December 2018. The new Income Tax Law No. 38 (2018) imposed taxes on income generated from exports, in accordance with WTO agreements.
In October 2019, the government announced an economic stimulus package granting direct incentives to investors in industrial and commercial sectors, offering cash incentives for companies that replace foreign laborers with Jordanian staff, and covering health insurance for employees and their families.
As the government implements reforms under the IMF Extended Fund Facility program and its own pro-growth reform agenda, several U.S. investors have reported the government has sought to reduce or eliminate incentives, guarantees, and/or tax exemptions previously expected.
Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation
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 Investment Law No. 30 of 2014 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 nine industrial estates in Amman, Irbid, Karak, Mafraq, Madaba , Tafileh, Salt 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 for a wide variety of manufacturing activities, reducing the cost of utilities and providing cost-effective land and buildings. Investors in the estates continue to receive incentives until their contracts expire, and receive various additional exemptions, such as 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 launched a new solar park in Ma’an development zone and announced plans to establish two new industrial parks in Zarqa and Jerash.
Under the Investment Law, establishments operating within development zones are subject to a unified tax rate of 5 percent. However, Income Tax Law No. 38 of 2018 modified the tax rates applicable to entities operating in the Development Zones depending on the source of the income; industrial activities with a local value-added of at least 30 percent are subject to 5 percent income tax rate, while other projects and activities are subject to 10 percent.
The Investment Law also grants entities registered in the free zones a tax exemption on any activity conducted within the borders of the free zones, the export of goods and services outside the Kingdom, and associated transit trade. Profits earned on activities pertaining to the sale, disposal, or importation of goods and services within the borders of the free zones are subject to tax based on the normal income tax rates applicable to each entity, depending on its status (corporation or individual).
The Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZA) 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, ASEZA has attracted projects, mainly in hotel and property development sectors, valued at over $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 became operational in 2018 and reached design capacity in 2019. The new port, 20 kilometers south of the previous port, added four new terminals and expanded general ship berthing and marine services, in addition to adding dedicated terminals for grain silos, liquefied natural gas, phosphates, and propane.
Investors, foreign or domestic, face specific requirements 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;
• New industries that depend on advanced technology; • Industries that require locally available raw material and/or locally manufactured parts;
• Industries that require locally available raw material and/or locally manufactured parts; • Industries that complement domestic industries;
• Industries that complement domestic industries; • Industries that enhance labor skills and promote technical know-how; or,
• 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.
• Industries that provide consumer goods and that contribute to reducing market dependency on imported goods.
In 2021, the government introduced a number of tax legislations to address gaps and loopholes in the current regime to prevent tax leakages and ensure transparency and fairness; including legislation on economic substance, transfer pricing, and to bring the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZA) under the national control for tax and customs administration.
For further details, please visit: • Jordan Investment Commission (http://www.jic.gov.jo/)
• Jordan Investment Commission (http://www.jic.gov.jo/) • Jordan Industrial Estate Corporation (http://www.jiec.com)
• Jordan Industrial Estate Corporation (http://www.jiec.com) • Aqaba Special Economic Zone (http://www.aqabazone.com/)
• Aqaba Special Economic Zone (http://www.aqabazone.com/)
Performance and Data Localization Requirements
Jordan has a well-educated and trained labor force of 2.5 million people, of which approximately 700,000 are registered foreign workers. Unregistered foreign workers may be nearly double this number. Most foreign laborers are employed in construction, agriculture, and domestic housekeeping sectors. Approximately 70,000 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.
Official unemployment reached 23.4 percent at the end of 2020, leading the Ministry of Labor to announce new labor regulations aimed at creating jobs for Jordanian youth through the reduction of foreign labor by 2024. The regulations stipulate increases in permit fees for non-Jordanians and closure of certain jobs to foreign employment altogether.
In February 2020, the Ministry of Labor increased the number of professions closed to foreign workers from 11 to 28. However, employers may request the Ministry of Labor review applications for foreign workers in restricted sectors if local expertise cannot be found; these requests have generally been approved. The government issued Industrial Sector Tax Incentives Bylaw No.18 granting tax incentives to industries that employ certain percentages of Jordanians, with additional incentives to those who hire Jordanian women and people with disabilities. The bylaw also extends tax incentives to small and medium enterprises based on certain conditions. Beneficiaries of the bylaw are industries whose finished products contain at least 30 percent local content. The tax rate (after incentives) has a floor of 10 percent for pharmaceuticals and garment industries, and 14 percent for other industries.
Jordan does not have requirements for foreign IT providers to turn over source code or provide access to surveillance.
In 2020, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship submitted a draft for the personal Data Protection Law, which supports Jordan’s digitization efforts. The Council of Ministers approved the law and sent it to the Legislative and Opinion Bureau for review. Jordan does not have a modern data protection law. The Criminal Law, Cybercrime Law, and Telecommunication Law offer partial protection of personal data.
5. Protection of Property Rights
The legal system reliably facilitates and protects the acquisition and disposition of property rights. Foreign ownership of land and assets is governed by the Leasing of Immovable Assets and Their Sale to Non-Jordanian and Judicial Persons Law No. 47/2006. Under Article 3 of the law, if the buyer’s country of residence has a reciprocal relationship with Jordan, 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 three years in duration. Interest in real property is recognized and enforced once recorded in a legal registry.
Jordan approved an investment program that grants citizenship or permanent residency of non-Jordanians in February 2018. This program includes permanent residency for non-Jordanians who purchase properties worth a minimum of JOD 200,000 ($282,100) and hold the properties for 10 years.
A new Property law passed in 2019 consolidated 13 laws governing property ownership in one legislation and addressed issues such as zoning and the facilitation of ownership and leases for foreign investors.
All land plots in Jordan are titled and registered with the Jordanian Land and Survey Department; any land not titled as private property is considered government property.
According to the Ease of Doing Business report of 2020, Jordan ranked 78 out of 190 countries in “Registering Property.”
Intellectual Property Rights
Jordan has passed several laws in compliance with international commitments to protect 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.
Copyrights are registered with the Ministry of Culture’s National Library Department 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 amended its patent and trademark laws in 2007 to enable ratification of the agreements. Jordan is a signatory to World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties on both copyrights and on performances and phonograms, 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 October 2017. The Ministry of Industry and Trade introduced an e-filing service in 2018 through https://ippd-eservice.mit.gov.jo/.
In 2017, Jordan acceded to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT); the treaty entered into force October 2017. The Ministry of Industry and Trade introduced an e-filing service in 2018 through https://ippd-eservice.mit.gov.jo/.
Amendments to Article 41 of Customs Law No. 33 of 2018 granted more time for legal agents to file trademark violation complaints. Jordan’s record on IPR enforcement has improved in recent years, but more effective enforcement mechanisms and legal procedures are still needed. In particular, a large portion of pirated videos and software remain in the marketplace.
On January 1, 2020, Jordan issued a draft bylaw for the application of broader protections of intellectual property rights. The bylaw stipulates the procedures to be followed by customs officials at the border to ensure the protection of intellectual property rights. As of March 2021, the draft was still under review at the Legislative and Opinion Bureau. On December 1, 2020 the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply issued instructions allowing the public to view patent applications once the legal period specified in the law has lapsed.
On December 1, 2020 the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply issued instructions allowing the public to view patent applications once the legal period specified in the law has lapsed.
Since 2000, 6,234 violations of Jordan’s current copyright law have been referred to the judiciary, including 218 cases in 2019 and 15 cases 2020. The significant drop in cases between 2019 and 2020 is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which necessitated closing courts several times during the year. In addition, the Customs Department issued 163 infringement notifications to trademark owners or their legal representatives and seized 1,159,828 pieces of merchandise due to the infringement of intellectual property rights.
Jordan is not listed in USTR’s Special 301 Report and the Notorious Markets Report.
Resources for Intellectual Property Rights Holders:
Intellectual Property Attaché for the Middle East & North Africa
U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi | U.S. Department of Commerce U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Tel: +965 2259 1455 Peter.Mehravari@trade.gov
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/.
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. However, surveys found between four and eight percent of Jordanians reported paying a bribe in the previous 12 months. In February 2021 King Abdullah directed the General Intelligence Directorate (GID) to transfer responsibility for confronting corruption to the Audit Bureau, judiciary, and other civilian institutions. In June 2020 the government began a campaign to combat tax evasion which involved tax authorities opening hundreds of investigations and raiding over a dozen firms. Authorities have opened public corruption cases against several former senior officials since 2019 , but no trials have been completed as of April 2021.
Jordan was the first Middle Eastern country to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2005. In 2006, Jordan issued a code of conduct for the public sector, enacted an Illicit Gains Law, and Anti-Corruption Law. 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 Illicit Gains Law requires designated officials, their spouses, and minor children to file financial disclosures with the Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission (IACC). Designated officials include the prime minister, cabinet members, members of parliament, senior government officials, as well as municipal-level council members and executives.
Jordan created the IACC in 2016 through a merger of the Bureau of the Ombudsman and the Anti-Corruption Commission. In 2019, Parliament amended the IACC Law granting the IACC more authority to access asset disclosure filings of officials exhibiting unexplained wealth. The amendment empowers the commission to request asset seizures, international travel bans, and suspension of officials under investigation for corruption. The amendment also increases the IACC’s administrative autonomy by enabling the commission to update its own regulations and protecting IACC board members and the chairperson from arbitrary dismissal.
In 2018, the government issued the Code of Governance Practices of Policies and Legislative Instruments in Government Departments, to improve the predictability of legal and regulatory framework governing the business environment.
A new Audit Bureau Law was enacted in 2018 to strengthen audit performance, capacity and independence in line with International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) standards. Other related laws include the Penal/Criminal Code, Anti-Money Laundering Law, Right to Access Information Law, and the Economic Crimes Law.
(INTOSAI) standards. Other related laws include the Penal/Criminal Code, Anti-Money Laundering Law, Right to Access Information Law, and the Economic Crimes Law.
Jordan is not a party to the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery.
Resources to Report Corruption
H.E. Mohannad Hijazi
Jordan Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission (JIACC)
P.O. Box 5000, Amman, 11953, Jordan
+962 6 550 3150
P.O. Box 582662, Amman, 111585, Jordan
+962 5 585 2528
13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics
|Host Country Statistical source*||USG or international statistical source||USG or International Source of Data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other|
|Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD)||2019||$44,628||2019||$44,503||www.worldbank.org/en/country|
|Foreign Direct Investment||Host Country Statistical source*||USG or international statistical source||USG or international Source of data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other|
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)||N/A||N/A||2019||$179||BEA data available at https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/|
|Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions)||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data|
|Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP||N/A||N/A||2019||83.5%||UNCTAD data available at
* Source for Host Country Data: N/A
|Direct Investment from/in Jordan Data|
|From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)|
|Inward Direct Investment||Outward Direct Investment|
|Total Inward||728*||100%||Total Outward||27*||100%|
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.
The Central Bank of Jordan does not collect or provide FDI data disaggregated by source.
*Aggregated number for 2020.
|Portfolio Investment Assets|
|Top Five Partners (Millions, current US Dollars)|
|Total||Equity Securities||Total Debt Securities|
|All Countries||Amount||100%||All Countries||Amount||100%||All Countries||Amount||100%|
|United States||3,404||47%||Bahrain||326||28%||United States||3,249||54%|
|West Bank||1,080||15%||West Bank||297||26%||West Bank||783||13%|
14. Contact for More Information
Senior Economic Specialist +962 6 590 6317
+962 6 590 6317