Jordan - Country Commercial Guide
Market Overview

Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, and other issues that affect trade.

Last published date: 2021-10-25

The United States and Jordan enjoy a long-standing bilateral relationship, underpinned commercially by the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which was the first such agreement with an Arab state.  Since the signing of the agreement in October 2000, bilateral trade has surged over 800 percent, expanding commercial opportunities for U.S. and Jordanian businesses. The FTA gradually eliminated duties on nearly all products by 2010, and includes provisions for trade in services, electronic commerce, intellectual property protection as well as labor and environmental standards.  As the United States has a Bilateral Investment Treaty with Jordan that offers reciprocal protections for investments, the FTA does not include an investment chapter.  In 2020, bilateral trade of goods and services reached $4.068 billion.  U.S. goods and services exports to Jordan accounted for $1.861 billion of which goods and services exports were valued at $1.319 billion and $542 million, respectively. The growth in U.S. exports to Jordan since the signing of the FTA reflects the receptivity of the Jordanian economy as well as the level of market access available to U.S. companies.

Unlike its neighbors, Jordan lacks an abundance of natural resources, except for potash and phosphate mining, which are among the country’s core industrial sectors, in addition to the manufacture of garments/apparel, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.  Jordan is largely reliant on imports across a range of industry sectors, creating opportunities for U.S. exporters.  In 2020, Jordan imported $18.201 billion in goods and services, compared to exports valued at $10.365 billion. Jordan’s leading import categories include mineral fuels and crude oil, industrial machinery, transportation equipment including automobiles, electrical and electronic equipment’s, food and agricultural products, textiles, manufactured goods such as rubber products, paper and cardboard, yarns, chemicals, clothing, and footwear.  In 2019, Jordan’s leading sources of imports included: Saudi Arabia (16.07%), China (15.96%), the United States (8.27%), Turkey (4.5%) and India (4.46%). The country’s top export categories include textiles, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, inorganic chemicals, and potash and phosphates. 

Jordan is one of the smaller economies in the Middle East, with foreign assistance an important component of the $43.821 billion economy.  The United States is the single largest contributor of bilateral assistance to Jordan, providing $1.5 billion in 2020.  The country faces a range of economic challenges: government debt accounts for 108 percent of GDP, the national budget deficit was $2.18 billion, and unemployment grew to 25 percent (and as high as 50 percent for young adults under 30 years old).  Additionally, after years of economic growth ranging from four to nine percent in the early 2000s, an influx of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, border closures with Iraq and Syria that limited trade, and exposure to fluctuations in energy prices during the Arab Spring, all contributed to Jordan’s economic slowdown over the past decade.

 In 2020, Jordan’s economy contracted by 1.3 percent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbating economic weaknesses. Government measures to mitigate the spread of the virus curbed business activity, contributing to a further uptick in unemployment and a decline in export-import activities, as well as inbound tourism. While the economy is expected to grow by two percent in 2021 and interest in U.S. goods and services remains, the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will constrain purchasing power at least over the near term.  Meanwhile, Defense Orders put in place during the pandemic continue to constrain businesses’ ability to lay off workers no longer needed.  However, Jordan continues to offer stability for U.S. business interests in a region often characterized by strife.

Summary of the top reasons to do business in Jordan:

  • Bilateral Relationship Favorable for U.S. Business Development.  The bilateral relationship between the United States and Jordan spans more than 70 years.  The U.S.-Jordan FTA enables nearly all U.S. exports to enter Jordan duty-free and to be sold at more attractive prices, which is favorable to U.S. business development.
     
  • Reliance on Imports.  Jordan is highly reliant on imports, creating opportunities for U.S. exporters across a range of industry sectors that are prepared for global competition. 
     
  • High Regard for U.S. Products.  U.S. goods, services, and technologies are well-regarded for superior quality and performance.
  • Infrastructure Projects and Government Procurement.  Opportunities exist to engage in major infrastructure projects or pursue government tenders across a range of sectors, many of which are financed by donor countries including the United States or International Finance Institutions (IFIs).  A pipeline of viable projects is coordinated through the Prime Ministry’s Public Private Partnership (PPP) Unit.
  • Political Stability & Strategic Regional Platform.  Jordan offers stability for business interests in the Middle East and is one of only four Arab countries to have concluded a peace agreement with Israel. U.S. firms can leverage the country’s cooperative regional relationships and international business community.  Jordan is strategically positioned to serve as a platform for firms supplying regional markets or seeking access to reconstruction efforts in Iraq.