King Abdullah II of Jordan has started his state visit to India today. This will be King Abdullah's second state visit to India. The visit follows the visit by PM Modi in early February as part of his West Asia tour.
While PM Modi and King Abdullah are expected to jointly address a counter-terror and deradicalisation meet, the subjects that will figure largely on the bilateral agenda includes defence, security and investments.
India’s relationship with Jordan has always been characterised by warmth and goodwill based on mutual respect. Cordial relations with Jordan are important for us, as Amman is not only a harbinger of stability in a volatile region and also a key player in the Palestinian question, being among the few Muslim majority countries that are having diplomatic ties with Israel. Jordan plays an important role in protecting Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, based on the Hashemite custodianship.
Jordan is also crucial to India’s effort to gather regional intelligence and enhance counter-terrorism cooperation. New mechanisms for closer intelligence exchange and cooperation in de-radicalisation have been instituted. King Abdullah has invited India to be part of the Aqaba Meetings against terrorism and radicalisation, and India has actively participated in the event. During this visit, institutionalisation of defence cooperation and signing of several agreements in media cooperation, upgrading of trade and investment targets, diplomatic visa-free travel, etc. are expected to take place.
Jordan is home to more than 10,000 Indians, who are employed in textile, construction and manufacturing sectors, fertiliser companies, health sector, universities, IT, financial companies and multilateral organisation. Jordan also plays an important role in India's food security through provision of fertilisers and phosphates. It would be desirable to have a long-term agreement for the supply of Jordanian phosphate and other minerals to cater to our agricultural requirements. Since Jordan has one of the largest deposits of oil shale, it would be desirable to initiate a serious dialogue for future exploration. Jordan can easily play a significant role in our food and energy security.
India is Jordan’s fourth largest trade partner after Iraq, Saudi Arabia and China. As of January 2016, Indians owned around 25 textile mills in the Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZs) in Jordan at a total investment of USD 300 million. Bilateral trade has been valued at USD 1.3 billion. Indian investors have taken advantage of Jordan's free trade agreements with the US and are trying to make it a hub of textile exports. India has also extended a USD 100 million line of credit to promote trade and investment with Jordan. Possibilities for joint ventures in the fields of leather, automobile, IT, pharmaceuticals, renewable energy(Solar) and construction sectors can be explored further. The newly constituted Investment Commission is actively pursuing to attract investors from all across the world, including Indian investments in Jordan especially in ICT, Finance/Banking Services, Renewable energy (Solar) and Bio-medical services sectors.
The bilateral relationship between India and Jordan in the 21st century heralds a new era in cooperation.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)