Country Listing

Jordan Table of Contents


Direction of Trade

Whereas almost 50 percent of Jordan's imports came from the United States and Western Europe, these same countries bought less than 10 percent of Jordanian exports. The direction of external trade generally followed Jordan's self-perceived economic identity as an indirect intermediary between the West and the developed world on the one hand, and the Arab countries and the Third World on the other. But because other Arab nations remained the most important customers--buying almost 50 percent of the 1987 export total of almost JD249 million--Jordanian markets were insufficiently diversified to benefit fully from this strategy. In early 1989, the Arab Cooperation Council, composed of Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, and the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen), was established to promote trade. This development, as well as the creation of the Joint Syrian-Jordanian Economic Committee, could reinforce Jordan's concentration on nearby markets. In the late 1980s, Jordan nevertheless sought to expand its export markets and had targeted Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa as potential prospects.

In 1987 Iraq continued to be Jordan's largest export customer. Jordan exported nearly JD60 million worth of goods to Iraq, but most of this figure resulted from transit and reexport rather than from bilateral trade. Saudi Arabia was Jordan's second largest export customer. Jordanian exports to Egypt had grown more than four-fold since 1985, demonstrating that Egypt was an important new outlet. Other major Arab export markets included Kuwait, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates (see table 14, Appendix).

South Asian and East Asian nations were regarded as promising markets, particularly for the sale of fertilizer and industrial chemicals. In 1987 India was Jordan's third largest export customer. Exports to China, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Japan also were growing. Furthermore, trade protocols signed in 1987 with both Thailand and Turkey may have opened the door to greater exports to both the Asian and the European markets.

Italy was Jordan's only major West European customer. Jordanian officials envisioned improved prospects in Eastern Europe, particularly in Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia. Jordan regarded Africa as a potentially vast market that could constitute one of the first experiments with the so-called "South-South" relationship advocated in Third-World circles. Whereas exports to Africa remained minimal in 1987, Jordan's apparent willingness to consider countertrade and barter remained attractive to such markets.

Jordan imported about JD916 million worth of goods in 1987. Iraq was the largest source of imports, but much of the JD99 million worth of products it sent to Jordan were intended for reexport. Imports from Saudi Arabia, Jordan's third largest import source in 1987, consisted mainly of oil. Almost 40 percent of Jordan's total import bill in 1987 came from eight West European nations, headed by the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), Britain, and Italy. The United States was Jordan's second largest source of imports and Japan was another significant import source.

Data as of December 1989