Although Jordan may not immediately spring to mind as a country in which to do business, the plain truth is it should. For the commercial environment is everything any foreign investor should expect of a modern, progressive economy. And with figures expected to show Jordan's economy growing last year by some 3%, with further expansion predicted for 2013, the country appears to be weathering the world-wide economic downturn rather well.
Setting up a business there has never been easier, too, with a raft of investment incentives available and procedures for business registration and licensing streamlined. Business banking services in Jordan are also as good as any in the rest of the Middle East.
Despite the positives, it's not all been plain sailing during 2012, says the highly respected Oxford Business Group (OBG), a global publishing, research and consultancy firm which publishes economic intelligence on the markets of the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The year closed much as it opened, says the OBG, with the government aiming to reduce subsidies on fuel while having to deal with the growing costs involved in looking after the tide of refugees seeking sanctuary because of the conflict in Syria.
The OBG says, “These two factors have played on the economy throughout 2012 and are expected to continue into next year. Social unrest, in part spurred by rising prices of essential products but also in response to what the opposition claims is the slow pace of political and economic reforms, has made investors wary.
“Despite these concerns, Jordan's economy continued to expand, with growth expected to reach 3% by the end of 2012, according to the IMF, in line with the kingdom's performance in the first half of the year. The IMF predicts GDP will increase by 3.5% in 2013, rising to 4.5% by 2017.”
Given the difficulties under which the economy laboured during 2012, says the OBG, a 3% rise in GDP should be considered “an excellent result”.
The economic division of the Jordanian embassy in Washington D.C. lists a string of good reasons why American companies and entrepreneurs should consider investing in Jordan.
It says Jordan is increasingly gaining popularity as an international business and investment hub, with investors and businesses from all around the globe attracted to the country because of its peace and political stability, liberalized economy and business-friendly climate.
The embassy adds, “Its strategic location between Europe, Asia, and Africa; various free trade and economic agreements with more than 70 countries; pro-investment laws; and special economic zones truly make Jordan a unique and globally renowned business destination.
“Jordan hosts a wide variety of dynamic sectors, various opportunities for private and joint businesses, private-public partnerships, numerous multi-sectoral development projects, and a talented and competitive labour force that complements its cutting-edge industries and drives economic growth. Jordan stands out in the region for the countless investment opportunities that it has to offer.”
So what are you waiting for? Talk to HSBC or any number of other multinational and domestic banks operating in the country. They'll be only too happy to offer advice on a whole range of areas, from opening a business bank account to payments and cash management services. Entrepreneurs and investors are also urged to check out the Jordan Investment Board website which is full of solid information and the latest available opportunities. Click here to visit the website.