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United States Statement by Deputy Chief of Mission Christopher S. Wilson at the WTO Trade Policy Review of Jordan
November 17, 2015
*For the Record*
Thank you, Chair. The U.S. delegation warmly welcomes Jordan’s Minister Maha Ali and the rest of the Jordanian delegation. In addition, the United States would like to thank Jordan and the Secretariat for their work in compiling reports that have helped inform our understanding of Jordan’s trade policy regime and practices since its last review in 2008.
Jordan’s economy faces many external and internal challenges including geopolitical pressures in the region resulting in a slowing of economic growth. It has few natural resources and is a relatively small economy. GDP per capita ranks it among the lower middle income countries, and it relies heavily on exports, tourism and overseas remittances, all negatively impacted by the instability in the Middle East and escalating conflicts in Syria and Iraq. We would like to take the opportunity to commend Jordan for its generosity of spirit in hosting many thousands of people displaced by these conflicts.
Notwithstanding those challenges, Jordan has been on a path of trade and economic liberalization, moving toward a market-driven economy. A critical step in that progression was Jordan’s WTO accession in 2000. As a member, Jordan has continued its support for the WTO principles, for example, by endorsing the Bali package and the WTO agreement on Trade Facilitation and recently, by agreeing to dismantle its export subsidy program. The United States applauds these efforts and will assist where possible in meeting these new commitments.
The United States is working to support Jordan’s development through enhancing our bilateral trade relationship. In 2000, we signed a free trade agreement that has achieved significant and extensive liberalization and eliminated all tariff and non-tariff barriers to bilateral trade in virtually all industrial goods and agricultural products. With Jordan’s access to some of its traditional markets temporarily disrupted, we have worked to expand Jordan’s competitiveness by helping identify new market opportunities through our bilateral trade reform assistance programming.
While we see great potential in Jordan, the pursuit of reforms remains important. Many of the questions we posed in this review reflect our desire to encourage Jordan to increase transparency and predictability in its business sector in order to attract much needed commercial engagement and foreign investment.
For example, we seek additional information on Jordan’s investment regime for foreign investors, specifically as it pertains to land ownership restrictions, minimum capital requirements, and equity ownership restrictions. Additionally, Jordan could gain from further dismantling its tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade. Rationalization of the MFN tariff through the reduction of tariff bands and rates should help reduce market distortions.
The United States has always advocated for strong intellectual property protections as critical to creating a business-friendly economy. We believe that Jordan, in general, has a strong regime for protecting IPR and would welcome the opportunity to review Jordan’s 2014 copyright amendment as well as regulations on geographical indications, among others. We also encourage Jordan to take steps to strengthen its enforcement of IPR.
In closing, Jordan has shown that integration with the international trading system is an important element of its overall economic growth strategy and views the WTO as the critical tool for achieving this integration. We would like to commend Jordan for being one of the few developing countries negotiating accession to the Plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement. We are, of course, willing to work with you to advance that process and more broadly to strengthen and deepen our trade relationship.