In October 2010, USAID launched the Regional Business Initiative, initially a one-year program consisting of a series of events meant to gather businesses and government officials from Jordan, Iraq and the West Bank/Gaza to discuss potential exchanges, and to help solve main obstacles to trade and joint business activities. The project was then extended until December 2012 with additional resources and an added scope, including the organization/facilitation of a series of workshops for regional officials on macroeconomic and public financial management-related topics in collaboration with the Middle East Technical Assistance Center (METAC). The program was funded by USAID’s Office of Middle East Programs and implemented by SEGURA Partners LLC.
Key partners in the project were the American Chamber of Commerce in Jordan (AmCham/Jordan), USAID Missions in Iraq, West Bank/Gaza and Jordan, and the Missions’ respective Economic Growth programs and implementing partners.
B2B events between Jordan, Iraq and the West Bank/Gaza
Through a series of regional events (workshops and business exchanges), the project aimed to bring together stakeholders from Jordan, the West Bank and Iraq to develop specific action plans to address constraints on regional trade.These action plans can subsequently be used by USAID/Jordan, USAID/West Bank and Gaza and USAID/Iraq in their bilateral programming.
- The first event was held in Amman, Jordan on December 14-16, 2010. The core of this event was business-to-business (B2B) meetings between 84 representatives from 66 companies from Jordan, Iraq, and the West Bank. The following sectors were represented: Construction, Transportation, Manufacturing, Banking and Finance, Pharmaceutical, Agribusiness and Food, and Textiles. Approximately 100 one-on-one meetings took place. The feedback from the participants showed that this event was very successful in creating linkages and laying the foundation for future collaboration.
- The second event was held on July 11-13, 2011 in Amman, Jordan. It focused on companies from the following sectors: ICT, tourism, and banking/finance. The event gathered 45 participants, including business representatives from 26 companies, 3 trade associations, and 3 government agencies.
- The Regional Business Initiative held its third B2B Event in Erbil, Iraq, on June 19-21, 2012. The meeting gathered 146 participants, representing 103 companies /associations (62 from Iraq, 31 from Jordan, and 10 from the West Bank) from the following sectors: ICT, Pharmaceuticals, Agriculture Technology, Food Processing, and Stone and Marble. The event was co-hosted by the Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the Federation of Iraqi Private Banks. It also featured a round-table for women business leaders.
Public Financial Management Workshops in collaboration with METAC
The project also supported a total of six METAC workshops on public financial management. The first of those workshops was held on January 29-31, 2012, at the Dead Sea, in Jordan, and focused on Tax Compliance Management. The second workshop took place on March 12-14, 2012, in Beirut, Lebanon, on the subject of Budget Preparation Process. The third workshop, held on April 28-30, 2012, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, revolved around the topic of Organizational Trends in Tax Administration. The fourth workshop took place on July 10-12, 2012 in Beirut, Lebanon, on International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) Cash Accounting. The fifth workshop was held in Cairo, Egypt, on October 16-18 2012, and focusing on Banking Supervision and the challenges and implications of Basel III in the Middle East.The sixth and final RBI/METAC workshop took place on November 27-29, 2012, in Rabat, Morocco, focusing on Value Added Tax (VAT) management.