Jordan trade deficit widens by 40 percent in 2000
A dramatic rise in the Jordanian oil import bill and higher national purchases of electric appliances and vehicles helped expand the trade deficit by 40 percent to 1.87 Jordanian dinars billion ($2.63 billion) in 2000, official figures showed.
According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, imports saw a 22 percent growth, jumping to JD3.2 billion last year from JD2.65 billion in 1999. The figures showed that Jordan paid JD373 million for its oil needs from Iraq last year compared to JD220.5 million the year before. The 69 percent rise in the oil bill was mainly blamed on higher per barrel prices on oil bought from Iraq, which went up from $13.5 per barrel in 1999 to $19.5 in 2000 and led to a JD120 million deficit in the 2000 budget.
This year, the five million tons of crude oil and oil derivatives in Iraqi supplies to the Kingdom will cost $20.9 a barrel, resulting in an estimated JD180 million shortfall in the budget. Imports of electric appliances shot up 40 percent in the last two years, according to the figures, from JD124 million in 1999 to nearly JD174 million.
A drop in customs duties triggered a 27 percent rise in imports of vehicles and spare parts, as it jumped to around JD370 million last year compared to the 1999's figures. Grain imports almost remained at their 1999 levels seeing less than a one percent rise, and reaching JD167.4 in 2000.
Exports, which rose by a mere 2.7 percent, were concentrated in fertilizers, which topped the list at JD140 million followed by potash at JD138 million and pharmaceuticals at JD110 million.
Mazen Darwazeh, chairman of the Jordanian Association of Manufacturers of Pharmaceuticals and Medical Appliances, said the nine percent over the past two years growth in pharmaceutical exports was fuelled by the expansion in the North American and European markets. He added that the industry is expected to see no less than 10 percent growth this year.
However, he forecasts a five percent increase in imports for the same period, generated by the open market policy, the operations of multinationals and a growing need for drugs to treat modern diseases, including anti-depressants. — ( Jordan Times )
By Rana Awwad
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)