Jordan’s trade slowdown offset by alliance with Gulf states

Expert to ‘Post’: Jordan is gaining strategic importance and its losses in trade are being offset by its increasing significance to Saudi Arabia and Gulf states.

King Abdullah (photo credit: REUTERS)
King Abdullah
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Jordan’s overland trade has slowed to a trickle because of wars raging in neighboring Syria and Iraq, but this is being offset by the country’s increasing importance to the Gulf states, which are seeking to deal with the US détente with Iran, an expert on Jordan told The Jerusalem Post.
Prof. Hillel Frisch of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, a Jordan expert, suggested to the Post that “Jordan is gaining strategic importance and that its losses in trade are being offset by its increasing strategic importance to Saudi Arabia and Gulf states.”
Jordan’s importance is not necessarily due to the growth of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, but more to the growing détente between the US and Iran, and the Gulf’s increasing dependence on regional allies, said Frisch.
“Jordan is small enough to be helped,” he said, adding that compared to Egypt’s 80 million people, dealing with Jordan’s problems “is small change.”
According to the CIA Factbook, Jordan’s population is nearing 8 million.
Frisch added that he doubts the situation in Jordan is dire, since trade with Syria had always been low.
The Jordan-Syria crossing is closed and trade between Jordan and Iraq has dropped drastically due to the violence and recent attacks at its borders, AP reported.
This has led to a Jordanian export loss of 17 percent in the first two months of this year compared to last, said the report.
Jordan also has had to deal with the economic consequences of large flows of refugees from neighboring states. Just within the past 72 hours, 83 Syrian refugees entered Jordan, according to an army source, The Jordan Times reported on Thursday.
Jordanian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Imad Fakhouri said at a meeting with a visiting Japanese delegation on Thursday that international support in coordination with the UN to help deal with refugees has reached only $216 million from a total plan cost of $2.99 billion, Jordan News Agency– Petra reported.
Frisch noted that terrorists have been posing as refugees in order to infiltrate Jordan.