JORDAN is a resource poor but skills rich country that holds opportunities for Australian business, not only in the traditional areas of trade such as wheat and the live sheep trade, but also in education and ICT.
Australian Ambassador to Jordan John Tileman said despite Jordan’s size — it is a small country of about 5.4 million people — it holds significant economic and trade potential for Australia and stands as a gateway to other countries in the region, including Iraq.
According to Mr Tileman a joke in Jordan says that the country’s national dish is boiled Australian rice topped with Australian lamb, because Australian produce accounts for about 70 per cent of the rice market and about 60 per cent of the lamb market.
Mr Tileman said the Jordanian king, HM King Abdullah bin Hussein II, has pursued modernising policies, including World Trade Organisation membership and free trade agreements with significant trading partners.
“They [the Jordanian Government] have concluded an FTA with the US and free trade agreements with the Europeans and some of their neighbours, so they are trying to position themselves as a regional base for commercial activities,” he said.
“The economy has continued to grow at a moderately healthy rate of 3 per cent or 4 per cent over the past 10 years.
“However, Jordan has been stuck between Iraq and a hard place and has had to overcome all sorts of difficulties to keep itself from being embroiled in the regional tensions, but also to keep attracting international attention and investment.”
Mr Tileman said the Jordanian economy was heavily reliant on a skilled labour force and was a country that placed a huge emphasis on education.
He said Jordan was keen to develop its education sector and to produce the next generation of university academics in the region.
Education, then, is a key area of trade opportunities for Australia, the ambassador said.
Mr Tileman said there were many opportunities in the ICT industry for Australia and also in the area of security.
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