|Trade with Iraq|
* Ministry of Trade and Industry is discussing 26 new trade contracts with Iraq for 2003 worth $51 million. The contracts will be part of the $350 million trade protocol between Jordan and Iraq for 2003. This year’s protocol is worth $310 million. The government has already ratified 18 contracts worth $23 million for this year. Meanwhile, Jordan’s exports to Iraq in January were JD 20 million. Iraq is the Kingdom’s main importer at more than JD 240 million annually. Most of Jordan’s exports to Iraq are pharmaceuticals, industrial products and paper works.
* Local GSM providers are disputing the government’s decision to impose additional JD 1 on every subscriber’s bill. Officials at the General Tax Dept said the decision is legal and is part of the amendments on the Sales Tax Law made recently. MobileCom and Fastlink reject the government’s decision, saying it will hinder their plans to expand their customer base. Fastlink asked for a special meeting with the government and the Jordan Telecommunications Regulatory Commission to study the decision before its implementation. There are more than 1.24 million mobile subscribers in Jordan, about 35 percent receive monthly bills. If it is implemented, the additional dinar will be added to the 13 percent sales tax that subscribers are currently paying.
Calpers in Jordan
* Caplers, the US largest pension fund with $125 billion, chose Jordan earlier this month as one of the 14 emerging world markets to invest their stock markets in. Calpers’ officials noted their choice of Jordan and other countries is based on an assessment of the stability and transparency of those countries. The fund has already investments worth $1.8 billion in some of the world’s emerging markets. Besides Jordan, Calpers also chose Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, Peru, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey and Israel.
Iraq war outshines Aqaba
* Marine agencies warn the looming war on Iraq would affect businesses in Aqaba. They suggest a 30 percent decline in the number of businesses at the seaport. Many cargo companies have already canceled their dealings with the port-city, suggesting the area is not safe. However, Saud Hayel Srour, director-general of the Jordan Harbors Corp, assured the Aqaba seaport will continue operations in wartime. Last year, the port witnessed a 9 percent increase in transactions, estimated at more than 14 million tons of goods. About 90 percent of Jordan’s international trade goes through Aqaba.
* Arab and foreign investments in the Amman Stock Exchange (ASE) declined in the first two months of 2003 by JD 6.2 million. ASE statistics showed non-Jordanian investors sold shares at JD 20.7 million, despite the fact they bought JD 14.5 million in shares in the same period. In February, the ASE lost about JD 500,000 in investments. Non-Jordanian investors hold about 38 percent of companies’ shares, only 9.3 percent are non-Arab. Most non-Jordanian investments are in the banking sector, followed by the insurance and services sectors. About 26 percent of the industrial companies’ shares are owned by non-Jordanians.
* Only 270 new private companies were registered at the Ministry of Trade and Industry in February at JD 5.2 million. In the same month last year, about 377 companies were registered with investments of JD 13.5 million. Economists attributed the decline in number and value of the new companies to the rapid political developments in the region. Almost half of the registered companies in February were in the commercial sector.