Jordan's economy is heavily dependent on what
is happening in the region. Over the years, wars,
conflicts and riots in the immediate area, although not
directly affected by Jordan, have had major
repercussions in the form of reduced trade, tourism and
investment, as well as large refugee flows.
Despite a lack of natural resources, water and
agricultural land, Jordan has managed to achieve greater
prosperity than many other states in the Middle East.
This has largely been due to income from Jordanian
migrant workers abroad (mainly in the oil-rich Gulf
states) and exports of phosphate (the country's only raw
material of importance).
Major imports by Jordan, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.
Jordan has also benefited from its position as a hub
for trade between Europe and the Middle East as well as
relatively well-trained labor. Not least, the expertise
and capital of the Palestinians has contributed to
economic development, especially the growth of the
Tourism has been expanded in particular around the
port city of Aqaba. Tourists are also attracted by
desert landscapes such as Wadi Ram, the rocky city of
Petra, Roman ruins and crusader castles.
Abbreviationfinder.org: Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including JOR which represents the country of Jordan.
Most important for the economy, however, has been
international aid. Jordan's involvement in, among other
things, the peace process between Israelis and
Palestinians has contributed to the country being
treated generously by creditors in the West.
The US attack on Iraq in 2003 stopped deliveries of
cheap Iraqi oil to Jordan; they were later replaced by -
more expensive - oil from the states of the Persian
Gulf, mainly Saudi Arabia. Gas deliveries from Egypt
have since the Arab Spring 2011 become both more
uncertain and more expensive. An agreement on gas
purchases from Israel, which began extracting natural
gas in the Mediterranean, has been concluded and
deliveries have been initiated, but the agreement is
The conflicts in Iraq in the 2010s and the war in
Syria have caused huge refugee flows to Jordan, which
despite international aid, harms the country's
resources. As a result of a deal with the EU, Jordan
grants 60,000 Syrian refugees work permits, but the
number of refugees has counted over the million.
Despite steady economic development for several
decades, and some growth in the economy even during the
2010s, Jordan is faced with problems such as a
continuous budget deficit and a large and growing
government debt. In 2018, central government debt
amounted to just over 94 percent of GDP. (By
comparison, the EU has stayed on the benchmark that
member states should not have higher government debt
than 60 percent of GDP, which several EU countries have
found difficult to manage.)
The imbalance has been partially offset by the income
from tourism and by the money that Jordanian guest
workers send abroad, but with the global financial
crisis of 2008 and the wars in the immediate area, these
subsidies to the economy have shrunk. In order to reduce
dependence on such revenue as well as on phosphate
exports, the government is trying to develop sectors
such as IT, the pharmaceutical industry and tourism. An
ambitious 10-year development plan (the National Agenda)
was launched in 2006, but economic reforms, including
privatizations, have been difficult to implement.
Other problems are high unemployment (officially
around 15 percent) and large gaps between poor and rich.
In the wake of the Arab Spring of 2011, the government
introduced a series of subsidies and support measures
designed to improve living conditions for the poor but
also for the middle class. At the same time, this meant
that the budget deficit increased. Attempts to cut
subsidies, which included fuel and food, among other
things, led to demonstrations.
To cover the deficits, the 2012 IMF set up a
three-year standby credit of just over two billion
dollars. Within the framework of the agreement, among
other things, a fairer and more efficient tax system and
a new social insurance system have been introduced,
which will give more money to the person who is
connected to it (still only those who have / have had
jobs can get part of it)).
The budget has been tightened and a review has been
made of energy needs. The low oil prices meant that from
2015, they dared to raise electricity prices by up to 15
percent as part of the abolition of subsidies in the
long term. In 2015, a new ten-year plan (Vision 2025)
was adopted aimed at creating growth and combating
2020 began with an agreement on a new, four-year
support package for Jordan from the IMF of $ 1.3
billion. Before disbursements started, there was a new
problem, the corona pandemic, which is widely assumed to
predict global recession.
Since 2002, the EU and Jordan have an association
agreement, which has laid the foundation for free trade.
Customs duties on most goods and a variety of services
have been abolished. The idea is that the agreement will
be developed with, inter alia, rules for investment
The EU is (collectively) Jordan's largest trading
partner, followed by the US, Saudi Arabia and China.
One-sixth of Jordan's trade is with EU countries (2017).
From the EU, Jordan mainly buys mechanical equipment.
Exports to the EU include textiles.
A free trade agreement with the United States (the
first between the United States and an Arab country)
came into force in 2001 and tariffs on most goods and
services were abolished until 2011.
Jordan has been a member of the World Trade
Organization since 2000.
Most of Jordan's exports are shipped via Aqaba, which
is Jordan's only port. Plans for a more modern freight
railroad between Aqaba and the capital Amman have been
around for a long time and have been actualized by
China's major investments in "new silk roads" for
international trade. Against this background, Jordan
also hopes to expand its rail network to link
neighboring countries (by extension China and Europe).
FACTS - FINANCE
GDP per person
US $ 4,248 (2018)
US $ 42,291 million (2018)
1.9 percent (2018)
Agriculture's share of GDP
5.6 percent (2018)
Manufacturing industry's share of GDP
19.0 percent (2018)
The service sector's share of GDP
61.8 percent (2018)
2.0 percent (2019)
Government debt's share of GDP
94.4 percent (2018)
US $ 30,036 million (2017)
US $ 7,773 million (2018)
US $ 17 969 million (2018)
- US $ 2,850 million (2018)
Commodity trade's share of GDP
66 percent (2018)
Main export goods
clothing, manure, pot ash, phosphate, vegetables,
Largest trading partner
United States, Iraq, India, Saudi Arabia, China