— This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on May 21, Thursday.
Gamble: as long as militants in Iraq and Syria seem to be gaining ground, can you ensure investors that Jordan is safe? And are we going to see those crises in those countries continue?
His Majesty King Abdullah II: I think we have a history over many decades of Jordan always being stable throughout the region, whatever the crises are, and you have got to remember that with everything that is going on around us, Jordan has done extremely well. We have had growth of over 3% the past couple of years and we are expecting 4% over the next two or three. Our reserves in the Central Bank are the highest they have ever been.
When you look at the region, you mentioned Syria and Iraq. Iraq has always been a very strong market for us. I believe that the Iraqi government, with the coalition forces, are going to open the route between Amman and Baghdad this summer. That is a very strong market that is going to be reopened. So I think those are looking to come to invest in Jordan, it is not just the traditional Iraq market, but then again the FTAs we have with the GCC, that's a traditional market. We have always looked beyond the region, it is not just looking at Jordan. We have free trade agreements with the United States, with Canada, Mexico is coming online. So, again, it is the Americans that has been an area of interest. We have been very bullish towards Asia - so it's India and further afield.
And because of the development of the sea port city of Aqaba, there's now a new move to look at the Horn of Africa and how do we develop the East African countries. So, again, there are opportunities that are coming up and people are knocking Jordan's door.
Hadley Gamble: In terms of the challenges here at home, 20% of your population are refugees right now. You also have a water crisis and you also are dealing with the fact that you are a net-energy importer. How are you tackling those problems?
His Majesty King Abdullah II: The challenge with 20% of our population being refugees, we do get a lot of support from the international community. I think that most people don't understand that 85% of the refugees are not in the refugee camps, they are actually outside; and so that's a burden on the Jordanian economy. Almost 25% of the GDP is then a burden that we have to take care of looking after the refugees. That does create a bit more of a challenge.
However, how do we off-set that with the energy needs that we need? Because of the lack of gas that we get from Egypt, we have had to move quickly. This is has always been a secret of Jordan, being able to adapt to all the challenges that we have had. And that's why you are seeing a major investment into alternative energy.
Q5 Hadley Gamble - remove undelined/in red
Those are incredible numbers. So your message to investors is don't be put off by the regional chaos.
His Majesty King Abdullah II: Well, I think that we've always said that where ever there has been problems in the region, Jordan doesn't use that as an excuse not to move forward. Whether its economic reform or political reform, I keep telling our people that its business as usual and we shouldn't shy away. In actual fact, when there are crises, this is the time to take advantage and actually push forward.
REMOVE: 013638 So I think that you'll see a very strong turnout from the private sector across the world coming to the World Economic Forum to take advantage of 17-19 billion dollars-worth of investment opportunities that the WEF is going to announce. 013651 REMOVE
Hadley Gamble: What's the value proposition for entrepreneurs, for investors, when they come to Jordan, why would they choose Jordan, instead of, for example, choosing Dubai?
His Majesty King Abdullah II: What has always made Jordan successful is the investment into human capital. That's always been our export, and if anything, my ideal long-term vision is to bring that export back into Jordan. Many countries in the region are supported by the Jordanian human talent. That's the capital that we have. And I think that's what sets us apart from other countries.
When you look at ICT, you realise that 70-75% of the Arab content is actually out of Jordan. Out of the top 10 for start-ups, is in Jordan. When you look at medical tourism, we are number five in the world. It all comes back to the Jordanian talent. And because it is homegrown, and not imported, I think that is what differentiates Jordan from other countries.
So when partners come from outside to invest in Jordan, then they have the Jordanian partner, which is a very solid, young, tech-savvy partner to be able to invest in. I think that is what differentiates Jordan from many countries in the region.
END OF 5 MINUTE CHUNK
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