From The Report: Jordan 2018
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Macroeconomic growth hit a 25-year low in 2016 as ongoing regional volatility continued to constrain trade, exports and investment. The Syrian refugee crisis has exacerbated existing pressures on fiscal stability and social infrastructure, while public debt has been on an upward trend as the government attempts to cover the costs associated with hosting over 500,000 refugees. However, 2016 may have also marked a turning point for the economy, with authorities making significant progress in implementing an IMF-backed reform agenda, which enabled Jordan to reduce its budget deficit from 3.5% of GDP in 2015 to 2.6% in 2017, and reduce or eliminate costly fuel, electricity and tax subsidies. The government is now turning its attention to green and digital expansion as it moves forward on a new mid-term economic development agenda, with the aim of improving the business climate and attracting new investment to support targeted double-digit growth in the manufacturing, electricity, water, transport, ICT and construction sectors. This chapter contains interviews with Omar Malhas, Minister of Finance; Muhannad Shehadeh, Minister of State for Investment Affairs; and Abdulwahab Al Bader, Director-General, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.