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Minister of Industry and Trade Concludes US Visit

Petra  |  June 17, 2006

Minister of Industry and Trade Concludes US Visit

June 17, 2006

Washington, DC- June 17 (Petra)-- Minister of Industry and Trade Sharif Al Zu'bi concluded a two day working visit to Washington in which he discussed US-Jordan trade and economic relations with various administration officials, congressional leaders and US business leaders.

Al Zu'bi stressed the need to capitalize on the success of the US-Jordan Free Trade Agreement and enhance trade relations between the two countries.

He said that the Jordan-US FTA has attracted many multinational firms which in turn brought new expertise, technology, and jobs to the domestic market benefiting more than Fifty-five thousand Jordanian and guest workers especially in the garments
industry.

Al Zu'bi underlined the need to diversify exports to the US adding that we are already seeing more activity in both jewelry and electronics industries.

In his discussions with US administration and Congressional officials, Al Zu'bi also highlighted Jordan's response to the allegations put forward by the National Labor Committee report last month, in which 28 garment factories in Jordan were found to have labor law violations.

We are taking the NLC report very seriously and we are taking immediate steps to improve labor conditions and upgrade our monitoring mechanism, Zu'bi said. We do not want to allow a few bad apples to ruin a decent and clean industry that has improved the lives of many Jordanians and guest workers, he added.

Al Zu'bi stated further that Jordan's Ministry of Labor has launched an immediate investigation, forming nine inspection teams which visited the apparel factories in Jordan.

An initial report was published by the MoL, which suggested that three factories had already been shut down before the publishing of the report and another three did not exist in Jordan. The Ministry of Labor might also shut down three more factories with gross violations of labor rights. We are working closely with the International Labor Organization, US labor committees, USTR, the State Department as well as US and Jordanian apparel companies to address the labor related challenges and to improve our monitoring system, Zu'bi said.

Al Zu'bi's meetings included the Middle East Free Trade Area coalition, Assistant US Trade Representative for Labor and Assistant US Trade Representative for Europe and the Middle East, Congressman Ben Cardin, Congressman Charles Rangel, Congressman Sandy Lavin, the legislative director for Senator Kent Conrad, the international trade council for Senator Max Baucus, and officials at the Department of
State and Department of Commerce. He was accompanied by Jordan's Ambassador to the United States Karim Kawar, Director of Jordan's Economic and Commerce Bureau in Washington Maher Matalka and Jordan's Trade Representative in Washington Yanal Beasha.