* The gradual rise of the euro increased Jordanís foreign debts last year by JD 334 million to more than JD 6.6 billion. A Ministry of Finance statement indicated the Kingdomís foreign debts increased in 2002 by JD 380 million over 2001. The governmentís social-economic transformation plan received JD 113 million in funds, while the privatization program made JD 615.5 million in proceeds in 2002. These mostly came from the privatization of Jordan Telecom and Royal Jordanian. Public revenues in 2002 increased by 3.1 percent to over JD 2 billion, while public expenditure increased by 4.5 percent to JD 2.2 billion.
* The 2003 Budget for the Aqaba Special Economic Zone is JD 43 million. About 1050 corporations and companies registered at the zone at JD 2 billion capital. Last year, the zone received JD 136 million worth of cargo. The zone is expected to earn this year JD 10 million and to receive JD 17 million in grants and financial aid. ASEZ president Aqel Biltaji said the Abu Dhabi Development Fund will grant the authority $30 million in loans to develop the Al Shalalah area on the southern shore of the city. Meanwhile ASEZ expenditure is expected to increase to JD 43 million in 2003, about JD 9.5 million of which will be current expenditure. The authority made more than JD 1.5 million through Sales Tax last year.
* The Social Security Corp. is losing money because it is not taking advantage of its mounting assets in investment projects. Investment Unit Director in the SSC Jawad Hadid said the corporation is discussing the possibility of investing $50 million in world markets. SSCís assets are about JD 1.7 billion divided in two: Credit deposits and demand deposits. While the first category makes about 95 percent of the SSCís overall assets and estimated at JD 750 million, the demand deposits are JD 35 million. The report indicated the increase in its deposits is costing the corporation sizable losses, estimated at more than JD 1.13 million last year. The report urged the SSC management to multiply its investments in local markets and open ways to penetrate regional business sectors to facilitate the employment of mounting assets. Hadid said the corporation wants to employ its money in rural and unprivileged areas around the Kingdom.
Exports to the US
*Jordanís exports to the US are expected to increase gradually to $500 million over the coming two years. In 2002, these exports were $230 million and expected to reach $350 million this year. Halim Abu Rahmeh, director of the Jordanian Exports Association said Jordan could extend its exports to the US through different ways, but first needs to examine the American market. Jordan and the US enjoy a free trade agreement, which became effective in December 2001. Dead Sea products, ceramics, weavings and foodstuffs are Jordanís main exports to the American market.
First branch in Bahrain
* The Housing Bank for Trade and Finance opened its first branch in Bahrain last week. An HBTF statement indicated the new branch comes as part of the bankŪs policy to spread its business in the region. Another Housing Bank branch is being set up in Algeria and expected to open later this year. The bank has already received approval from the Syrian authorities to open a branch soon in Damascus.
Jordan and Algeria
* Trade volume between Jordan and Algeria totaled JD 31 million, tipping in favor of the Kingdom. Jordanian exports to that country included pharmaceuticals, minerals, chemicals, textiles and industrial inputs. Algerian exports to Jordan reached JD 53,000 in 2002, consisting mainly iron and steel products. A group of Algerian businessmen visited the Kingdom end February and discussed ways of increasing bilateral trade, concerning joint investments in industry and commerce.