Jordanian gov’t woos Taiwan investors

By Billy Chamberlin, The China Post

Representatives from some of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s many industrial parks delivered their pitch to a handful of Taiwan companies yesterday, aimed at luring Taiwan investment to the Middle East nation. Focusing in particular on garment manufacturers, the Jordan Investment Board (JIB), the Jordanian government agency responsible for promoting investment, is seeking Chinese investment by touting its Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZs). Allowing for “duty free and quota free exports to the United States,” explained Hussein Dabbas, deputy director of the JIB, the QIZs offer investors access to the world’s largest market without paying duty or excise taxes. Taiwan’s garment manufacturers are under increasing pressure from competitors throughout mainland China and Southeast Asia who have access to abundant low-cost labor. Jordan is hoping that Taiwan companies will recognize its QIZs as a competitive advantage. Requirements for companies wishing to take advantage of this opportunity, said Dabbas, is a minimum of 35 percent of the products total value must be produced with the QIZ.

Dabbas explained that while this requirement might seem difficult, fabric made in Taiwan but that is cut and sewn together in the QIZ is eligible to be counted towards the 35 percent. In fact, only 11.7 percent must come directly from the QIZ, eight percent must also come from Israel, and the remainder of the minimum requirement can come from the United States, Israel, Palestine or a QIZ. While many of Jordan’s surrounding neighbors have become rich off natural oil resources, Jordan lacks many natural resources, including oil, and the government has turned to its citizens to provide a competitive advantage. Roughly a bit smaller in size than Taiwan with only 5 million inhabitants, 50 percent of which are under the age 18, Jordan has one of the highest rates of higher education (17 percent). Along with English being taught since first grade and widely spoken throughout the country, Jordan hopes that the nation’s educated and relatively low-wage labor will help entice investors.