Opening Statement of Ambassador Miriam E. Sapiro
Deputy United States Trade Representative
Jordan-U.S. Investment and Trade Forum
April 19, 2010
“Thank you, Al, for the kind introduction and for affording me the opportunity to speak about Jordan and the importance of our Free Trade Agreement. It is a pleasure to be here with all of you this morning, particularly His Royal Highness Prince Zeid Al-Hussein, Minister Hadidi, Assistant Secretary of State Fernandez, Mr. Sunnaa and Ms. Talhouni. I am honored to be part of such a distinguished group.
“I would also like to thank the Jordanian Embassy in Washington and the Jordan Investment Board for organizing today’s event. We are all grateful for your hard work, which continues to strengthen the economic relationship between the United States and Jordan.
“This year we are marking the 10th anniversary of the signing of the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement (FTA). It is a perfect opportunity to reflect upon what we have accomplished together so far.
“In 1999 – at a time when the United States was working to support Jordan’s accession to the WTO – Jordan’s exports to the United States totaled $31 million. Bilateral trade that year between our two countries was $307 million.
“Ten years later, our trade and investment relationship has grown tremendously. Thanks to the FTA and the Qualifying Industrial Zones program, our two-way trade in 2009 topped $2.1 billion, a nearly 600 percent increase over our 1999 level. That is extraordinary progress.
“The benefits to Jordan have been striking. The Jordanian Government has credited its expanding trade with the United States with creating more than 50,000 jobs. In addition, according to data provided by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, total foreign direct investment in Jordan increased from $3.1 billion in 2000 to approximately $18 billion in 2008.
“Jordan has also become more competitive regionally and internationally as a result of the standards set out in the FTA. In particular, Jordan has taken important steps to expand protections for intellectual property rights; increase regulatory transparency; open its services sector; privatize government-owned entities; and stimulate new areas of the Jordanian economy, including e-commerce.
“In short, Jordan’s economic growth and commitment to liberalized trade have translated into a secure environment for investors and their capital.
“The United States likewise benefits greatly from our relationship. Jordan’s strategic location and skilled workforce offer significant potential for American businesses as a gateway to the Middle Eastern and North African market of 400 million people. We look forward to working together to create even more opportunities for both American and Jordanian businesses in the region.
“One way we can do that is by promoting U.S. investment in Jordan. The United States has a long history of welcoming foreign investment at home and making investments abroad. The diversity and vitality of our economy – especially in these challenging economic times – depends greatly on our openness to both inward and outward foreign investment.
“American companies that invest overseas benefit from access to new markets, helping them to grow and prosper. This is especially important for small- and medium-sized enterprises (“SMEs”), the source of almost two-thirds of all new American jobs over the past two decades.
“U.S. firms that invest abroad also tend to achieve higher levels of exports than firms that do not. This is because when U.S. firms establish abroad, they create new sources of demand for their goods and services. In fact, U.S. firms with operations overseas, including in Jordan, account for almost half of total U.S. exports.
“As these examples illustrate, both the United States and Jordan have much to gain from further expanding an already close relationship. This Forum presents an important opportunity to maintain the positive momentum that we have created in the last ten years since the FTA was signed. I am confident our discussion today will help us build on that success and achieve this objective.