The Chairman of Amman Chamber of Commerce, Issa Haider Murad, on Monday said the Jordanian commercial sector had achieved good and positive growth indicators since the beginning of this year despite economic hardships and the political turmoil in the region.
In an interview with Petra, Murad said that the commercial and service sectors' figures continued to rise, noting that the Kingdom's exports increased by 6.8 percent, while imports increased by 2.9 percent during the first half of this year.
Further, Murad noted that the national exports reached JD5.2 billion during the first half of 2014, compared with JD3.2 billion during the same period of last year. As for imports, he added, these amounted to JD3.8 billion compared to JD6.7 billion during the first half of 2013.
Murad reiterated that the political and security crises in the region posed a real challenge to the Kingdom, but underlined the promising opportunity for Jordan to become the focus of investors and major international companies, which are looking for a safe haven and a stable investment environment.
He also highlighted a number of obstacles facing the trade sector, such as the hardship in securing credit facilities and high loan interest rates for SMEs compared to lower interest rates for big companies.
The chief of the Amman Chamber also spoke about a number of obstacles related to the exacerbated phenomenon of bad cheques, which had a negative repercussion on the economic performance and imposition of one percent customs service fee on goods already exempted from customs. He also highlighted the predominance of foreign retail companies at the shopping malls, which have a negative impact on fair competition in the local market.
As for the Jordanian-Iraqi economic relations, Murad stressed that Iraq is one of the most important trade partners of the Kingdom, despite the unrest there in the economic, social and security fields.
"The Iraqi market has an advantage and enjoys priority as far as many Jordanian traders, importers and industrialists are concerned who prefer it to other Arab and global markets," Murad said, explaining that the Iraqi market is at the forefront of the Arab markets for Jordanian exports. "The Kingdom's exports to Iraq accounted for 18 percent of the total national exports last year," Murad added.
Meanwhile, he proposed several steps to restore momentum to the Jordanian-Iraqi economic relations, such as boosting ties between the two countries' private sectors through the exchange of visits of specialized business delegations.
On the domestic level, Murad said that the Chamber is keen to boost dialogue and coordination between the public and private sectors to reach common solutions to the challenges facing the national economy and ensure comprehensive development in various sectors.
"The Amman Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 80 percent of the economic activities and services in the Kingdom, is keen to contribute to and participate to ensure invincibility and advancement of the national economy in order to reflect positively on Jordanians' living standards," Murad told Petra.
He also called on the Lower House of Parliament to forge closer ties with the private sector, especially with the chamber of commerce, and to listen to and take into consideration the views and proposals put forth by the private sector when discussing economic policies and legislation related to various economic affairs in the Kingdom.