Razzaz concludes US visit after bagging historic $1.2b loan for the Kingdom

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz on Saturday concluded an official visit to the US, accompanied by an economic-ministerial delegation, during which he held talks with senior US administration officials, the executive directors of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and a group of businesspeople and investors.

The discussions reflected the consensus among international institutions on the necessity of continuing to support the Kingdom in light of the economic challenges it continues to face, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, said.

The visit of the delegation, which included Finance Minister Ezzeddine Kanakrieh and Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Mary Kawar, represented an opportunity to discuss preparations and rally support for the upcoming London conference to support Jordan’s economy and investment, slated for late February.

One outcome from the visit is reaching an agreement with the World Bank on a $1.2 billion loan to the Kingdom at “a very low interest rate”, which will enable Jordan to reschedule part of its debt, “providing a real opportunity for private and public investment”, Razzaz announced during a meeting with the Jordanian community in Washington, in the presence of Jordanian Ambassador to the US Dina Kawar.

Razzaz underscored that this soft loan is the largest the Kingdom has ever received from the World Bank.

To follow up on the US aid file, the premier and delegation met on Friday with a number of senior US administration officials and the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.

Talks went over mutual development ties, in addition to discussing the means to support participation in next month’s conference.

Razzaz acquainted the officials with Jordan’s “extraordinary challenges”, including the ramifications of the Syrian refugee crisis, as the Kingdom is seeking to preserve macroeconomic and financial stability, with the US side commending the Kingdom’s vital role and its efforts towards comprehensive reform, according to Petra.

During the extended visit, the prime minister also met with the head of the US House Committee on Appropriations, Nita Lowey, and the ranking republican member of the committee, Kay Granger, who praised the efforts aimed at improving Jordanians’ living standards and voiced appreciation for the country’s role in achieving regional peace and stability.

During a press conference attended by US journalists from major US and international news agencies, Razzaz said that Jordan has managed, in light of the difficult circumstances, to transform challenges into opportunities for better future.

The Kingdom has focused on attracting investments through the new facilitations offered by the Investment Law, Razzaz said, noting that the Kingdom has entered in international free trade agreements topped by Jordan-US agreement, Petra added.

On Thursday, the premier met with US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, voicing Jordan’s appreciation for the US’ continued support to the Kingdom particularly in the military and economic fields, and highlighting the five-year economic assistance programme under the MoU on the strategic partnership between the two countries, to which Mnuchin stressed his country’s commitment.

The visit also has signalled an agreement with the US that would create job opportunities which would be reflected upon Jordanians’ living standards.

Earlier during the visit, Razzaz met with executive directors of the World Bank Group, including the officials of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, during which talks covered Jordan’s sustainable development plans and briefed the officials on the Kingdom’s progress in economic and political reforms, as well as World Bank-funded projects.

The PM also met with US Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan, and discussed bilateral ties and means of strengthening economic and trade cooperation.

In a meeting with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, Razzaz discussed the latest developments in the IMF-backed fiscal reform programme, noting that Jordan is implementing an economic blueprint aimed at stimulating growth and generating more jobs for Jordanians through projects in the energy, transportation and water sectors.