Beginning in 1999, Locus CEO Jean-Paul Gauthier was instrumental in helping the government of Jordan transform the city of Aqaba into a thriving SEZ. With World Bank financing, the Aqaba Regional Authority contracted Jean-Paul's firm, The Service Group (TSG), now dissolved, to study how to stimulate development in the area through the formation of a freeport.
TSG's study quickly led to the adoption of the 2000 Aqaba Special Economic Zone Law and the formation of the Aqaba SEZ Authority (ASEZA), which became the regional and municipal government for Aqaba. The SEZ legislation removes import duties and lowers taxes to stimulate business growth for the 375 sq. km SEZ in south Jordan, which includes Jordan's only seaport.
Jean-Paul personally led work on the ASEZ investment climate study, Aqaba's business registration and licensing regulation, and the standard operating procedures for its one-stop shop, all based on international best practices. Jean-Paul also trained ASEZA staff on the processing of business applications and gave several high-level presentations.
In 2004, Jean-Paul returned to help ASEZA divide off its development functions through the creation of the Aqaba Development Corporation.
With the help of Jean-Paul's institutional and policy recommendations, Aqaba experienced explosive growth since its official formation as an SEZ in 2001. It set an initial goal of attracting $6 billion in investment by 2020. It easily surpassed that goal as early as 2006 and reached $20 million in investment by 2013. Its population almost doubled to 140,000 by that time, and poverty in Aqaba dropped to among the lowest rates in the country, at 11%.
Growth of Aqaba SEZ