Jordan’s foreign direct investment (FDI) has fallen by one third since the beginning of the year. Considering that the protests in the country were relatively subdued when compared with the rest of the region, the drop is worrying.
Without the oil wealth of its neighbours, the country will need to attract investment if it is to stave off a weakening economy and an increasingly dissatisfied and frustrated population.
Numerous committees drawing up reforms are doing little to appease Jordanians. There are strikes in the public sector with employees refusing to work unless the state meets demands for better pay and working conditions.
While many have complained that investors from the West mistakenly view the entire Middle East & North Africa region as a single bloc, Jordan’s struggle with attracting FDI is not limited to this year alone.
The country was in a better position two years ago, when levels of FDI were healthier. With developments in other countries, such as Egypt and Morocco, they become more attractive to investors and Jordan suffered as a result.
The ease of doing business in Jordan needs improving, says Samer Asfour, chief executive officer of the Jordan Investment Board (JIB). Asfour claims that 2012 will be more positive with a roadmap JIB has created to reduce barriers and redirect investment back to Jordan. For the time being, it will rely on the investors from the GCC, as they are the only ones keen to invest in the region.