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French Version

Business Scene

JORDAN (Star) - * Trade relations between Jordan and Israel continue to improve. Israeli trade officials indicated bilateral trade exchanges increased in 2001 by 70 percent to around $130 million.

Sources suggest many of the Israeli factories and companies moved to the Al Hassan Industrial Zone in Irbid to operate their businesses there rather than their home in Israel. Israeli trade with Arab countries reached some $200 million last year.
* About 12 percent of Jordanians are currently unemployed. Senator Salwa Al Masri revealed last week that many Jordanian men are not able to work because of inadequate education. She said foreign labor in Jordan forces many in the Kingdom to seek financial assistance from the National Aid Fund instead of begging. It is suggested the current state of the National Aid Fund may not be enough to support the mounting demands of families. A UN report indicated 80 percent of Middle Eastern nations are living below the poverty line. Poverty rates in Jordan remain high. Unofficial statistics put them at approximately 30 percent.

* Five local banks announced their profits for 2001. The International Islamic Arab Bank at JD 4 million earned the greatest gain. The Jordan Arab Investment Bank came next with JD 3.5 million, followed by Union Bank for Saving and Investment at JD 2.3 million and Arab Banking Corp-Jordan with JD 2.2 million. Philadelphia Investment Bank came in at the back of the pack with JD 1 million only.

* France has signed a 38 million euro (JD 24 million) swap agreement for its debts on Jordan. The agreement allows France to exchange these debts for French-oriented investment projects in Jordan. Part of these projects will be in water network rehabilitation and the Aqaba Special Economic Zone. This is the fifth such agreement since 1994. The previous four were worth an estimated JD 170 million. The current Jordanian debt to France is said to be worth JD 400 million.

* The Life insurance industry in Jordan is enjoying good times. A report by the Jordan Insurance Federation stated local companies earned JD 1.5 million in profit last year from life insurance policies. This accounts for 30 percent of the companies' overall profits in 2001, worth JD 5.16 million. Marine insurance was next with JD 1.3 million. The report indicated local insurance companies lost JD 2 million from car insurance policies, noting many companies have failed to operate successfully in that field.

* The US has granted Jordan $37.13 million (JD 26.4 million) in development assistance for the local economy. This is the first portion of an overall economic assistance package for 2002 estimated at $150 million. Under the agreement the US will provide aid to ongoing initiatives of USAID aimed at increasing economic opportunities for Jordanians. These include support for microfinance programs, business associations, policy reform implementation, and technical assistance business services for small/medium-sized enterprises. Funds will also support the development of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone, providing technical assistance and training for public and private sector institutions to assist Jordan in becoming more competitive in a world economy.

* A JD 2 million-agreement was signed between the Trust Investment Co and Arab Egyptian Land Bank for a joint investment portfolio. This two-year agreement paves the way for the company to administer financial resources, including bonds and shares, in local and Arab financial markets. This will enable the bank to extend investments through capital and merchandise businesses.

The Star redaction
The Star

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