(Jordan Times ) — Jordan's first quarter trade deficit widened in comparison with 1999's corresponding period due to increased imports, according to a Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) monthly report which also identified Iraq as the Kingdom's biggest trade partner.
The CBJ report shows a trade deficit of JD356.4 million in the first quarter of this year, compared to JD266 million in the same period of 1999.
The report, which was made available to the Jordan Times, shows that imports in the first three months amounted to JD580.4 million compared to JD483.7 million in 1999.
Meanwhile, exports in the period rose to JD224.3 million, compared to JD217.7 million in the corresponding period of last year.
The report did not give the reasons behind the sharp rise in imports.
Jordan's first-quarter imports from Arab states amounted to JD168.3 million, where Iraq ranked first with JD120 million. Oil and oil derivatives accounted for most of this figure.
The EU followed at JD187.3 million, then the US with JD49 million, and non-Arab Asian states with JD113.2 million worth of imports to the Kingdom.
The CBJ's monthly report also shows that the Kingdom's first-quarter exports to Arab states amounted to JD91 million, where Saudi Arabia ranked first with JD25.4 million, followed by Iraq with JD16.3 million.
The Kingdom's trade with Asian countries reached JD72 million in the period, with India ranking first with JD33.3 million in imports from Jordan.
Jordan's exports to the EU amounted to JD9.3 million, while exports to the US reached JD4.8 million. Israel imported JD12.5 million worth of Jordanian goods in the period.
Industrialists complain that exports to Iraq have declined as a result of Jordanian firms' failure to win more trade contracts with their neighboring state under the UN oil-for-food agreement, which allows Iraq to export $5.2 billion worth of oil to make humanitarian purchases.
But analysts say that a recent visit here by Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, who met with His Majesty King Abdullah and Prime Minister Ali Abul Ragheb, could boost trade ties between Amman and Baghdad.
By Tareq Ayyoub
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )