On the occasion of the 7th US-Jordan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Joint Committee Meeting, the American Chamber of Commerce in Jordan (AmCham-Jordan) organized a meeting for more than 50 members of the business community with delegates from the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on May 19 at the Bristol Hotel Amman.
The session was entitled "Jordan-US Bilateral Trade Challenges and Opportunities" and included contributions from Alice G. Wells, US Ambassador to Jordan, Maha Al Ali, Minister of Industry and Trade, Minister of Public Works and Housing Sami Halaseh and Mr. Mark Mowrey, Deputy Assistant USTR for Eurasia and the Middle East. The panel was moderated by Mr. Mohammed Bataineh, AmCham-Jordan Chairman.
Al Ali said that the government is very pleased with the results of the joint committee meeting held that morning and reiterated that Jordan will remain steadfast in increasing its economic potential by capitalizing to the fullest extent possible on the benefits and opportunities that the FTA offers.
Al Ali called on the private sector to use the agreement to grow their business especially in light of the current border closures with neighboring countries. She also eluded to the fact that the Joint Committee meeting hasn’t been held for the past 4 years which is an indicator that the agreement has been working smoothly through the commitment of both governments.
Ambassador Wells in turn highlighted the major success of the agreement as Jordanian exports to the US during 2015 increased by 7% at a time when Jordan’s overall exports declined, and the trend continued with 14% growth during the first quarter of 2016.
For his part Chairman Bataineh said, "Looking to the future, the goal of AmCham-Jordan is to seek to diversify the products that Jordanian businesses export to the United States and to be proactive, in order to increase further potential of their collaboration and capitalize on its benefits to the fullest extent possible".
The private sector engaged in a very fruitful discussion and pointed out several issues to be taken into consideration by both governments. Minister Halaseh participated in the discussion stressing the importance of raising awareness on the opportunities rendered by the agreement in all sectors, especially in the construction sector.
Participating companies also pointed out the issue of minimum wage and the impact on investments under the FTA. Minister Ali explained the the government is currently looking into this matter and that they will continue to have open dialogue with the private sector in this regard.
Ambassador Wells explained that there is a special program carried out by the US department of Commerce called Select USA which is taking place this June in the US which offers all kinds of information necessary for all potential investors.
Several other crucial issues were raised during the session such as non-tariff barriers to trade such as requirements for exporting processed meat to the US, where USTR representatives explained the procedure to be taken in order to submit these issues through official channels.
Other issues included investment opportunities in the US, ICT sector benefits from the FTA, marketing channels for Jordanian products in the US and the Government Procurement Agreement. It was agreed that AmCham will organize an open forum including all the stakeholders to share all opportunities and challenges that the agreement will bring for the recommendations will then be presented to the government for all parties to be able to make an informed decision taking onto consideration all aspects of the issue.