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December 2018
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Thursday, 14 December 2017 12:45

Economic relations between the two countries have not yet reached the high level obtained in the political cooperation, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Featured

Caspian Energy (CE): Jordan’s Embassy in Azerbaijan has been operating for 10 years. Which positive changes in trade-economic relations of Azerbaijan and Jordan do you observe? 

Nassar Ibrahim Mohammad al-Habashneh, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to Azerbaijan:

 Development between the parties was observed in all areas after the opening of the Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Baku in 2007 and Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Amman. Nevertheless, the economic and trade relations still have not yet reached the level of political relations based on fraternal and friendly relations between His Majesty King Abdullah II Ibn Hussein and His Excellency President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. It is associated with a number of reasons including a geographical distance between the two countries, disturbances which covered the trade routes and competitive markets including Near East, especially Iraq and Syria which are considered the only overland route for Jordan in the north. In general, all this has a negative impact on the trade of Jordan.

Despite all these challenges, the relations between Jordan and Azerbaijan including economic relations between the two countries are developing in the right course and in near future we will witness the revival in the field of trade and investments between the two countries.

 

CE: Goods turnover between Jordan and Azerbaijan totaled over $3.62mln within the first quarter of 2017. Which sectors played the most important role in achievement of these indicators and which sectors should be given the highest attention?

Nassar Ibrahim Mohammad al-Habashneh: In general, the volume of trade between the two countries has not still reached the level of the existing potential. Production of medications is one of the major economic spheres of Jordan and Jordanian companies are considered one of the biggest producers of medications in the Near East region and worldwide. 

Apart from this, agricultural goods including agricultural equipment are one of the promising areas of trade between the two countries. Thus, Jordan is one of the biggest suppliers of phosphate and potassium applied in production of fertilizers.

Tourism is one of the promising areas capable of ensuring development of trade relations between the countries. Availability of attractive tourism facilities in both countries opens broad possibilities for cooperation between the tourism companies of the two countries.  Thus, Azerbaijan is attracting Jordanian tourists with its tourism facilities and unique nature. Jordan, in its turn, is famous in the region and the world for its ancient historical monuments as Petra, Jerash and Umm Qais, as well as such natural sites such as Akaba, Vadi Ram, the Dead Sea, including the medical tourism.

 

CE: How does Jordan, the country-participant, assess the conduction of the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games in Azerbaijan? To what extent can this activity promote the development of economic relations of the Islamic world countries?

Nassar Ibrahim Mohammad al-Habashneh: First of all I would like to congratulate Azerbaijan and its wise government on the successful conduction of the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games. Declaring 2017 as the Year of Islamic Solidarity by His Excellency President Ilham Aliyev as well as activities, conferences and forums held in this regard bring the two countries closer to each other and simplify the achievement of the economic goal. Thus, Azerbaijan’s message proves the capability of the Islamic World countries to cooperate in all areas. As far as the economic sector is concerned, it is noteworthy that the cooperation between the Muslim countries is associated with a number of factors, including the region of location of the countries, pattern of production and consumption in both countries, as well as natural and human resources of each state. Islamic games played an important economic role in terms of strengthening the idea of rapprochement between the Muslim countries and people on the one hand, and demonstrating the presence of splendid tourism facilities in the Muslim countries on the other hand. For instance, Azerbaijan itself has turned into an object of interest of a number of the world countries, including Islamic countries, in terms of tourism.

 

CE: Chairman of the House of Representatives of the Jordanian parliament Atef Taravnehi has recently visited Azerbaijan and met with President Ilham Aliyev. What have been the results of the visit? Which issues were addressed in the course of the meeting?

Nassar Ibrahim Mohammad al-Habashneh: The visit of the Jordanian parliament delegation headed by the Chairman of the House of Representatives of Jordan Mr. Atef Taravnehi was very effective. Within the framework of the visit the delegates met with His Excellency President Ilham Aliyev, Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister and speaker of Milli Majlis of Azerbaijan. All these meetings gave a new momentum to the development of relations between the countries. The following topics were discussed during the meetings:

-                     The parties confirmed that the relations between the two countries, their governments and two friendly peoples are firm and appreciated the mutual support the two countries lend each other during the international activities.

- An issue of intensification of the work of the join intergovernmental commission. It was recommended to conduct the next session of the joint intergovernmental commission in Amman in coming months.

-                     It was recommenced to once again consider the agreements and contracts which have been signed between the countries so far and prolong the expired agreements which can promote the strengthening of cooperation between the countries.

-                     Discussed were problems and challenges occurring in the field of trade and tourism between the two countries, opening of the direct flight between Amman and Baku, lending assistance to the work of tourism organizations of the two countries. 

CE: Port Aqaba is a special economic zone and a single port city of Jordan. How does this port promote the development of trade and tourism of the country? How do you assess the development of the sea trade port in Alyat settlement in Baku?

Nassar Ibrahim Mohammad al-Habashneh: The board of Aqaba Special Economic Zone was established in 2001. It developed 123 programs on 5 such strategic sectors as the social-economic development, infrastructure, environment and an institutional development. Each of these programs is oriented towards investments. Thus, Aqaba has turned into a single big investment space which concentrates all local, regional and international investments within such projects as Ayla, Saraya, Port Zayed, etc. Besides, these projects target at turning Aqaba into a tourism object and center of tourism due to close location of such international tourism facilities as Petra and Vadi Rama.

The total number of passengers arriving in the Jordanian port of Aqaba in 2016 made 250,000. Most of them were tourists. The number of tourists traveling in sea exceeded 56,000, which is 64% higher than the figure of 2015. Moreover, Aqaba is the second after Amman in terms of days spent by tourists spent there.

As far as His Excellency Ilham Aliyev’s order about creation of the International Sea Port of Alyat in March 2016 is concerned, it should be noted that creation of the Alyat Free Economic Zone as well as Baku International Sea Trade Port has become a new step taken by Azerbaijan which benefits from its special geographic location. This step will turn Baku into an important and logistical center of Eurasia. This project is a component of important international projects such as Silk Way and North-South transport corridor.  A mutually beneficial cooperation and exchange of experience between the Special Economic Zone Aqaba and the management team of Alyat project are possible in this sphere.

 

CE: Could you please tell about Jordan's current economic policy towards reducing dependence on energy imports and job creation?

Nassar Ibrahim Mohammad al-Habashneh: One of the main problems facing the economy of Jordan is related to energy. Thus, Jordan meets 95% of its fuel needs through imports. This is the reason why Jordan has launched the new strategy based on alternative energy. Recently, His Majesty King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein announced the opening of the Solar Energy Generation Center with the capacity of 18.5 MW, which is the largest centre in Middle East. At the same time, the Energy Strategy for 2015-2025 has been developed in Jordan. This strategy envisages diversification of energy resources (oil and gas), improved efficiency of renewable energy sources, transition to nuclear energy technology and energy efficiency.

 

CE: Which bilateral visits of high-ranking officials are scheduled for the coming year?

Nassar Ibrahim Mohammad al-Habashneh: Our countries are exchanging visits on a regular basis.  For example, a few months ago the delegation from the Parliament of Jordan headed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Jordan, as well as the Jordanian sports delegation consisting of 120 people took part in the Islamic Solidarity Games. In addition, the large number of former senior Jordanian officials visited Azerbaijan to attend the Dialogue between Civilizations conferences hosted by the Nizami Ganjavi Center. In 2016, His Holiness Sheikh ul-Islam visited Jordan. At the same time the leaders of the two countries met during international conferences and other events. As I mentioned above, preparation is currently underway for the next meeting of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission. We hope that the heads of state will meet in Amman or Baku.

 

 

CE: Which products of Azerbaijan do you consider the most promising for Jordan? Which technologies can Jordan offer to Azerbaijan?

Nassar Ibrahim Mohammad al-Habashneh: Azerbaijan can supply the Jordanian market with agricultural products, meat and fish products, as well as oil and gas, knitwear and the world-famous unique Azerbaijani carpets.

As for the Jordanian technologies, Jordan is considered one of the most developed countries in the region in the field of agricultural technology. So, Jordan has professionals in the field of ICT, healthcare and construction technologies.

 

CE: How are things going with the Agreement on Cooperation in the field of Tourism signed between our countries? Does the facilitated visa regime on the part of Jordan for Azerbaijani citizens foster the increase of a tourist flow from Azerbaijan?

Nassar Ibrahim Mohammad al-Habashneh: In 2006, the countries signed the Agreement on Cooperation in the field of Tourism in order to encourage the private sector, promote tourism and the exchange of tourism programs and cooperation in the field of medical and religious tourism. At the same time Jordan has simplified the procedure for obtaining visas by the Azerbaijani citizens to enter Jordan. Thus, the citizens of Azerbaijan can obtain a visa to enter Jordan immediately when crossing the border. Currently, the Azerbaijani side is working towards simplifying the visa obtaining procedure for the Jordanian citizens to enter Azerbaijan. This, in turn, will boost the development of transport, trade and tourism between the two countries.

The development of tourism between the two countries is associated not only with agreements on cooperation and visa procedures, but also with the encouragement of information cooperation between the private sector of both countries, the development and promotion of programs for the development of tourism. This, first of all, will inspire the guests to travel first through charter flights, and then using direct air communication between Amman and Baku.

 

Thank you for the interview

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