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Economy of Jordan

Jordan is a small country with limited natural resources. Just over 10% of its land is arable, and even that is subject to the vagaries of a limited water supply. Rainfall is low and highly variable, and much of Jordan's available ground water is not renewable. Jordan's economic resource base centers on phosphates, potash, and their fertilizer derivatives; tourism; overseas remittances; and foreign aid. These are its principal sources of hard currency earnings. Lacking forests, coal reserves, hydroelectric power, or commercially viable oil deposits, Jordan relies on natural gas for 10% of its domestic energy needs. Jordan depends on Iraq for most of its oil.

Although the population is highly educated, its high growth rate (3.4%) and relative youth (more than 50% of Jordanians are under 16) make it difficult for the economy to generate jobs and sustain living standards. Jordan's distance from other markets makes its exports less competitive outside the region, and political disputes among its traditional trading partners--Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states--frequently restrict regional trade and development. King Abdullah has encouraged his government to liberalize the economy, improve economic ties in the region, and seek opportunities in the global information economy.

Since 1987, Jordan has struggled with a substantial debt burden, lower per capita income, and rising unemployment. In 1989, efforts to increase revenues by raising prices of certain commodities and utilities triggered riots in the south. The mood of political discontent that swept the country in the wake of the riots helped set the stage for Jordan's moves toward democratization.

Jordan also suffered adverse economic consequences from the 1990-91 Gulf War. While tourist trade plummeted, the Gulf states' decision to limit economic ties with Jordan deprived it of worker remittances, traditional export markets, a secure supply of oil, and substantial foreign aid revenues. UN sanctions against Iraq--Jordan's largest pre-war trading partner--caused further hardships, including higher shipping costs due to inspections of cargo shipments entering the Gulf of Aqaba[?]. Finally, absorbing up to 300,000 returnees from the Gulf countries exacerbated unemployment and strained the government's ability to provide essential services.

Since 1995, economic growth has been low. Real GDP has grown at only about 1.5% annually, while the official unemployment has hovered at 14% (unofficial estimates are double this number). The budget deficit and public debt have remained high, yet during this period inflation has remained low, and exports of manufactured goods have risen at an annual rate of 9%. Monetary stability has been reinforced, even when tensions were renewed in the region during 1998, and during the illness and ultimate death of King Hussein in 1999.

Expectations of increased trade and tourism as a consequence of Jordan's peace treaty with Israel have been disappointing. Security-related restrictions to trade with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have led to a substantial decline in Jordan's exports there. Following his ascension, King Abdullah improved relations with Arab Gulf states and Syria, but this brought few real economic benefits. Most recently the Jordanians have focused on WTO membership and a Free Trade Agreement[?] with the U.S. as means to encourage export-led growth.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $16 billion (1999 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 2% (1999 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $3,500 (1999 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 3%
industry: 25%
services: 72% (1998 est.)

Population below poverty line: 30% (1998 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.4%
highest 10%: 34.7% (1991)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3% (1999 est.)

Labor force: 1.15 million
note: in addition, at least 300,000 workers are employed abroad (1997 est.)

Labor force - by occupation: industry 11.4%, commerce, restaurants, and hotels 10.5%, construction 10%, transport and communications 8.7%, agriculture 7.4%, other services 52% (1992)

Unemployment rate: 15% official rate; actual rate is 25%-30% (1999 est.)

revenues: $2.8 billion
expenditures: $3.1 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)

Industries: phosphate mining, petroleum refining, cement, potash, light manufacturing, tourism

Industrial production growth rate: -3.4% (1996)

Electricity - production: 6.08 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 99.51%
hydro: 0.49%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (1998)

Electricity - consumption: 6.102 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - exports: 2 million kWh (1998)

Electricity - imports: 450 million kWh (1998)

Agriculture - products: wheat, barley, citrus, tomatoes, melons, olives; sheep, goats, poultry

Exports: $1.8 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.)

Exports - commodities: phosphates, fertilizers, potash, agricultural products, manufactures

Exports - partners: Iraq, India, Saudi Arabia, European Union, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria, Ethiopia

Imports: $3.3 billion (c.i.f., 1999 est.)

Imports - commodities: crude oil, machinery, transport equipment, food, live animals, manufactured goods

Imports - partners: Germany, Iraq, US, Japan, UK, Italy, Turkey, Malaysia, Syria, China

Debt - external: $8.4 billion (1998 est.)

Economic aid - recipient: ODA, $850 million (1996 est.)

Currency: 1 Jordanian dinar (JD) = 1,000 fils

Exchange rates: Jordanian dinars (JD) per US$1 - 0.7090 (January 2000-1996), 0.7005 (1995)
note: since May 1989, the dinar has been pegged to a group of currencies

Fiscal year: calendar year

See also : Jordan

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