By Omar Obeidat – Sep 11,2015 – Last updated at Sep 11,2015
His Majesty King Abdullah opens the Jordanian pavilion at the 2015 China-Arab States Expo in Yinchuan, China, on Thursday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)
YINCHUAN, China –– Jordan and China on Thursday announced the signing of a number of investment agreements worth over $7 billion.
The agreements were signed on the sidelines of the 2015 China-Arab States Expo in Yinchuan, the capital of Ningxia Hui autonomous region, which was inaugurated Thursday in the presence of His Majesty King Abdullah, who opened the Jordanian pavillion.
Jordan is an honorary guest at the event that will run through September 13.
The agreements include $1.7 billion project to build Jordan’s first oil shale-fired power plant in the Attarat area, in the south of the Kingdom, to produce around 900 megawatt of electricity.
The agreement, signed in Beijing on Wednesday in the presence of King Abdullah, stipulates that a consortium of Chinese companies and Jordan’s Al Lajjun Oil Shale will build the power station in the Southern Governorate of Karak, according to Jordan Investment Board Commissioner Montaser Oqlah.
Another major agreement was a $2.8 billion investment to construct the national railway network, in addition to an accord with China’s giant Hanergy to build a 1,000 megawatt renewable energy power plant at a cost of nearly $1 billion, Oqlah said.
An agreement between the ICT Ministry and telecom giant Huawei was also announced, but details of the accord were not made available.
Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) also signed a major investment agreement with China’s Shenzhen Chamber of Investment to develop an industrial and logistics estate in the port city on an area of about one-million square metres.
According to ASEZA officials, the project will be completed within the next five years. It is the first Shenzhen-based project of its kind outside China.
The value of all the investment accords is about $7 billion, Oqlah told The Jordan Times Thursday, describing the agreements as “real deals that will be implemented within the coming years”.
Earlier in the day, King Abdullah attended the opening of the 2015 China-Arab States Expo and toured Jordan’s wing, which, according to JIC chief, is the largest among participating countries.
In her speech at the opening ceremony, Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply Maha Ali said that the agreements signed would contribute to boosting economic ties between Jordan and China.
Trade exchange between China and Arab states has seen a tangible growth over the past years to reach $240 billion in 2014, compared to $25 billion when the Arab-Chinese Cooperation forum was launched in 2004.
On the sidelines of the expo, the Jordan-China trade and economy forum was held with the participation of large delegations of businesspeople from both countries.
Jordanian officials and businesspeople called on Chinese firms to take advantage of the Kingdom’s competitive investment environment and legislation, adding that Jordan is an oasis of calm in a troubled region.
“The investment commission will act as a servant and advocate for Chinese investments in Jordan,” Oqlah told a group investors from China.
Chinese officials also attended the session, stressing that Beijing will encourage businesspeople to go to Jordan to explore available investment opportunities in the country.
According to JIC figures, Chinese investments in the Kingdom are worth JD200 million.
In 2014, the trade volume between Jordan and China reached $3.6 billion and while the trade balance is tilted in favour of China, the country’s exports to China went up by 200 per cent from the previous year. These were mainly potash and phosphate, valued at around $300 million while the Kingdom’s imports from China stood at $3.3 billion.