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.
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. All laws and regulations are usually published on the website of the Legislative and Opinion Bureau for public commenting, in addition to executive branch consultations, with the legislative branch and key stakeholders.
Most economic regulations are available on the Jordan Investment Commission website (https://www.jic.gov.jo/ar/investment-regulations-2/), or on the Ministry of Industry and Trade and Supply website (https://www.mit.gov.jo/Default). All regulations are published in the Official Gazette (http://pm.gov.jo/newspaper) or the Legislative and Opinion Bureau (http://www.lob.jo/).
The commission issued and published a services and licensing guides outlining processes and fees, in addition to the incentives guide (https://www.jic.gov.jo/en/services-guide/). Guides are currently available in Arabic.
Jordan is committed to its fiscal transparency policy, therefore the Ministry of Finance (MoF) publishes a monthly “General Government Finance Bulletin” and that includes detailed information on government’s debt obligations. (www.mof.gov.jo/Portals/0/Mof_content/النشرات والبيانات المالية/نشرة مالية الحكومة/2016/Arabic PDF December 2016.pdf ).
For further details please contact:
Jordan Investment Commission
Telephone: +962 (6) 5608400/9 Ext: 120
Amman 11821 Jordan
International Regulatory Considerations
Jordan recognizes and accepts most U.S. standards and specifications. However, Jordan has occasionally required additional product standards for imports. Some of these measures have been viewed as barriers to trade, 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 had implemented 81.5 percent of its commitments. Jordan 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. Jordan has introduced economic judicial chambers, established under the Amman First Instance Court and Amman Appeal Court under the provisions of the Law of Formation of the amended Courts No. 30 of 2017. These chambers specialize in the adjudication of certain commercial and investment disputes mentioned in Article 4 of the Courts Formation Law.
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 commission issued and published a services and licensing guides outlining processes and fees, in addition to the incentives guide (https://www.jic.gov.jo/en/services-guide/). Guides are currently available in Arabic. The commission is working to amend the bylaw that regulates non-Jordanian investments to increase investors’ confidence and attract more foreign investment.
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. This law governs the requirements to establish venture capital companies for the purpose of direct investment, or for creating funds, to contribute or invest in high-growth companies that are not listed in the stock market.
In 2018, Jordan passed the Insolvency Law, Movable Assets and Secured Lending Law and Bylaw, the Venture Capital Bylaw in addition to a new Income Tax Law, a number of related bylaws are in the pipeline.
There is no systematic or legal discrimination against foreign participation with respect to ownership and participation in Jordan’s major economic sectors 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, citing 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 specifically deemed to be in the public interest. In cases of expropriation, the law mandates provision of fair compensation to the investor in convertible currency.
ICSD and New York Conventions
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 treated as any other commercial or civil dispute in the Jordanian judicial system. 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 litigating 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 judges’ capacity to adequately review cases.
International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts
Rulings by U.S. courts or other international arbitration committees can be upheld through the filing of an Enforcement of Ruling motion in a Jordanian court.
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. In 2018, Parliament passed the Insolvency Law, which allows individuals and companies to offset their financial position through a debt management plan. The law helps the insolvent entity to continue its economic activity, rather than directly resorting to bankruptcy.