Long procedures, regulations keep investors away from Jordan

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AMMAN — During a meeting with investors at Al-Hassan Industrial City last week, Interior Minister Mazen Al-Farraya said that the government had signed free trade agreements “with the most important economic countries”, but that investors were leaving them “untapped”. According to experts, difficulties in procedures are the primary cause for Jordan’s lack of investor demand.اضافة اعلان

According to Yousef Qaisieh, media spokesperson for the Jordanian Investors Association, the investment sector requires strong and stable regulations, as well as greater facilities and encouragement for investors. “The Jordanian economy and the investment environment require total reconstruction in the hope of recovery,” he told Jordan News.

He added that a significant number of Jordanian investors are doing well in other countries, and that Jordanian investments outside of Jordan surpass $30 billion. He went on to say that providing facilities for these investors would benefit the Jordanian economy.

The spokesperson said that that a tax on shares trading was recently introduced, which he claims is illegal. The tax, he said is a tactic to discourage large traders and investors from participating in the economy and in public shareholding firms — pushing them to other countries.

Qaisieh, through the investors association, urged the authorities to focus on attracting investors by simplifying and easing procedures, some of which take weeks to complete by investors. He also called for encouraging investors through various exemptions that would considerably stimulate the investment environment.

Mohammad Al-Bostanji, head of the Jordanian Free Zones Investors Association, concurred, believing that the most serious and widespread issue is the lengthy routine of investment procedures and the granting of licenses and permits.

He said simplifying the issuance of visas and entry permits is a must. Bostanji claimed that five years ago, the number of investors (particularly Libyans) in free zones declined dramatically due to the difficulties in acquiring visas, and they began to move to other countries such as the UAE and Türkiye, where permits are easier to obtain.

Bostanji added that, in the past, free zones were the most appealing to foreign investors, but that the Income Tax Law imposed on free zones today is a great deterrent to investors. “Jordan is nearly the only country that taxes free zones,” he claimed.

Jordan, in his opinion, is “fertile soil” for investments due to its central geographical location and its safety. For this reason, he said the authorities should provide facilities to Jordanian and foreign investors, provide speedy solutions to the visa issue, and simplify procedures through automation.

Bostanji stressed that investment projects have the potential to operate in a wide range of sectors, stimulate tourism, and create jobs, and it is therefore prudent to prioritize investments and assist investors.

Jordan Investment Commission media spokesperson Bilal Abu Zaid told Jordan News that in a recent report, issued at the beginning of May, most investor-related procedures now take a maximum of three days to complete through the “investment window”. Representatives of all agencies and ministries whose jurisdictions are relevant to investors are present at the investment window, including the Interior Ministry and the Customs Department. In the past, procedures would take up to two weeks to complete, according to Abu Zaid.

The spokesperson added that the investment commission has already begun the project of automating routine procedures, and that today 70 percent of the services related to investment projects are completely electronic, with the remaining services slated for digitization by the end of the year.

Jordan free trade agreements with many countries, including the US, the EU, and many countries in Africa. It is also party to the Arab Free Trade Agreement. All these deals benefit investment in Jordan, according to Abu Zaid. He added that the most recent invest report showed that the Investment Law has also had a positive effect on investment in the Kingdom.

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