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FTA with Canada would enhance economy - King

Jordan Times, Amman

FTA with Canada would enhance economy - King

31 April 2005

AMMAN - His Majesty King Abdullah on Wednesday said a free trade agreement (FTA) between Jordan and Canada would contribute to enhancing the Kingdom’s economy.

At a meeting here with Canadian Minister of Labour and Housing Joseph Frank Fontana, King Abdullah stressed on accelerating procedures to sign the agreement, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

A member of the World Trade Organisation, Jordan was the first Arab country to sign a free trade agreement with the United States, in 2000, and Singapore, in 2004. Amman also has an association agreement with the European Union.

The King said the Canadian business community should exploit Jordan’s investment climate and the international agreement between the Kingdom and other countries to set up projects, particularly in information technology and housing.

Fontana said the Canadian government was interested in developing bilateral relations with the Kingdom, according to Petra.

Canadian Ambassador to Jordan John Holmes, meanwhile, said his country is expected to provide around JD291,000 to fund a feasibility study on establishing a mortgage insurance facility to support "lower and middle income housing" in the Kingdom.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is to conduct the study in 6-9 months in cooperation with Jordan’s United Arab Investors, Holmes said.

The CMHC was established in 1946 by the federal government to provide affordable quality housing to citizens. It was later in charge of providing housing finance, research and information transfer and of supporting and promoting the export of Canadian housing products and expertise, through identifying market opportunities and providing practical information and advice to the housing industry, according to the corporation’s official website.

The ambassador told The Jordan Times that the study is to indicate investment opportunities in the housing sector - "which North American and other international companies may look at."

Fontana, who arrived in Amman Tuesday, also held talks with Prime Minister Faisal Fayez, Minister of Labour Amjad Majali and Minister of Public Works and Housing Raed Abu Saud.

The premier and the Canadian official discussed means to boost economic cooperation, Petra said.

Fontana and Abu Saud signed a memorandum of understanding to increase bilateral cooperation, mainly in technical fields, developing low-cost housing plans and encouraging the private sector, the ambassador said.

Holmes added that Fontana and Majali agreed to increase cooperation on vocational training by setting up a database system and evaluating vocational training projects in the Kingdom.