Speech at the Jordanian-Swedish Business Forum

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Your Excellency Maha Ali, Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply

Distinguished Representatives of the Jordanian Business Community,

Dear participants in the Swedish Business Delegation,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon and a warm welcome to this Swedish-Jordanian High-level Business Seminar!

Let me first of all again thank the Jordanian Government, in particular the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Jordanian Chambers of Industry and Trade as well as the Investment Commission for their warm hospitality and for good co-operation in preparing this seminar.

It brings me great pleasure to be here in Jordan as the Head of a business delegation comprising 16 Swedish companies. In fact, it is the first officially organised trade mission to Jordan since 2009.

Why now? Why Jordan?

Firstly, the new Swedish government puts great emphasis on an export-driven growth of the Swedish economy. A new Export Strategy has recently been launched and increasing trade relations with the Middle East remains a high priority. Our export to Jordan is on average 100 mUSD annually and covers industrial equipment, medical & pharmaceuticals, pulp and wood products. A number of Swedish companies are already present in Jordan, such as ABB, Ericsson, Tetra Pak and Astra. More than 20 have various forms of partnerships with Jordanian partners. Also, we see some Jordanian investments in Sweden.

Secondly, the Syria crisis and it’s profound consequences for this region is also of great importance to Sweden. Over 90 000 asylum seekers from Syria have arrived in Sweden since the conflict started. Sweden remains one of the largest humanitarian donors to alleviate the suffering of affected populations. Jordan and other neighbouring countries have been carrying a heavy burden ever since the conflict started, for which you deserve our utmost respect and support. In fact, in a few weeks time, my government will decide on a new Syria-crisis strategy - allocating development funds to vulnerable populations inside Syria and neighbouring countries, including Jordan.

Against this background, I would like to stress two objectives of this on-going trade mission. The first objective is to understand better the process of supplying the UN organisations working here in Jordan. In fact, yesterday we visited Azraq Camp hosting 24 000 Syrian refugees. We got a good overview of the situation in the camp and on the needs and challenges facing its inhabitants. But as I open this Swedish – Jordanian business forum, I would like to put emphasis on the second objective: Seeking partnerships with the Jordanian business community, both in terms of accessing the Jordanian, as well as the UN market, here in Jordan. Also, as a regional hub for goods and services – understanding the Jordanian market will give Swedish business a competitive advantage when we move into a phase of reconstruction of Syria and Iraq. This underlines the need for a long-term perspective on our efforts to promote Swedish-Jordanian trade relations and the need for comprehensive follow-up of our joint efforts.

What has struck me during my brief visit to Jordan is the rapidly growing needs and challenges that the Jordanian national and local institutions as well as international organisations are facing following the humanitarian crisis in this region. Here I feel the private sector can make important contributions by bringing innovative solutions to the table. I see it as an opportunity that several new, innovative companies are present her today as part of the Swedish business delegation. And in this context I would like to emphasis again the opportunity for win-win partnerships with Jordanian suppliers where Swedish innovation and technology can partner with Jordanian knowledge and expertise to deliver best possible solutions. We will hear more about a Swedish-Jordanian success story in the context of UN procurement later this afternoon.

Before I conclude, let me once again thank all Jordanians and Your Excellency Minister Maha Ali for the warm welcome to your country. I look forward to this business seminar and I hope for active discussions and networking opportunities.

Thank you for your attention!