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Jordan, gate to one billion consumers

Mar 16,2014 - Last updated at Mar 16,2014

In all his trips, east and west, His Majesty King Abdullah addressed potential investors, telling them that Jordan is a gate to huge markets with at least one billion of consumers.

The Jordanian gate should also be one for national exports, but so far, it was not fully utilised to reach even a million consumers in the east and the west.

On the contrary, the low level of activity in the private sector, especially the industry, led other countries to use the open Jordanian gate to flood the local market, so much so that the value of imports in 2013 was equivalent to three times that of exports, thus allowing the trade deficit to go through the roof.

The gate the King is working hard to highlight worldwide needs economic capability, able and willing to reach the world markets which are open to the products of Jordanian origin.

This is a realistic objective as we have many products on demand across the world, such as phosphate, potash, fertilisers, pharmaceuticals, vegetables, etc.

The gate that the King is working hard to open should be translated into an inwards flow of foreign investments and an outwards movement of national exports. Unfortunately, this has not happened yet.

Official statistics indicate that total exports and re-exports registered a growth rate of 0.3 per cent in 2013. The real meaning of this is that the volume of exports actually declined by 5.2 per cent in real terms, i.e., after excluding inflation rate.

Jordanian governments and industrialists failed so far to use the gate that the King opens for them. 

They fail to build on the opportunities the King created through his active diplomacy.

Perhaps the efforts should shift now from promoting exports of goods to promoting exports of services, especially in tourism, which may be more feasible.

Jordanian tourism operators are more active than the industrialists. Tourist facilities in place and under way can accommodate mass tourism and provide tourists with what they expect.

If we are unable to make it with material exports, we may be able to make it with services exports, and not only in tourism, but also in education, medical services training and, regionally, become a venue for international conferences.

Jordan’s trade balance is distorted to an unbelievable degree. It is not reasonable to have imports from the European Union, like we did in 2013, worth up to JD3.329 billion ($4.7 billion), while exporting no more than JD171 million ($240 million).

Jordan’s imports from China are valued at billions of dollars, while China is hardly buying any Jordanian products. It is a pity that we fail to enter the markets of certain countries which were targeted by the King’s active diplomacy, such as Mexico, Kosovo, Belgium, Singapore, Hong Kong and Canada.

Believe it or not, Jordanian exports to Japan in 2013 did not exceed JD28 million.

The Chamber of Commerce urged its members to benefit from the King’s efforts. That is not enough, because such members are mainly interested in imports, which do not need any promotion.

It is the Chamber of Industry that must wake up and do something to cash on the King’s successes internationally.

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