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Overview

Jordan has begun its recovery from the COVID‑19 shock — real GDP grew by 2.2% in 2021 following a 1.6% contraction in 2020. However, the COVID‑19 crisis has exacerbated Jordan’s jobs challenge: Unemployment stood at 23.3% in Q4‑2021, youth unemployment reached nearly 50% and the women’s labor force participation rate is 14%, one of the lowest in the world. At end‑2021, Jordan’s public and publicly guaranteed gross debt stood at 113.8% of GDP[1] (and debt net of SSIF[2] debt holdings at 92% of GDP) respectively. High unemployment rates, widening external imbalances, elevated debt levels and weak investment highlight sizable challenges to a robust recovery.

Jordan also faces several climate‑related hazards including significant temperature increases, precipitation decreases and increased incidents of drought. Jordan is heavily dependent on fossil‑fuel imports, with limited natural resources. It is among the most water-poor countries in the world. Jordan’s fiscal situation demands that it finds private sector solutions to climate challenges and that it incentivizes these solutions from a climate lens as part of its development model.

Even prior to the COVID‑19 crisis, Jordan’s economy had been struggling with persistently sluggish growth dynamics and structural challenges. Between 2016 and 2019, real GDP growth averaged about 2%, insufficient to create enough jobs for Jordan’s young labor force. Part of this weak growth performance traces back to multiple external shocks Jordan has experienced in the past decade, including regional conflicts and the influx of nearly 1.3 million Syrian refugees (representing almost 13% of the total population). Sitting at the center of a volatile region, Jordan continues to play a role as an anchor for regional stability and for the global public goods it provides by hosting refugees and promoting cross‑border regional cooperation and trade.

Jordan’s economic transformation remains contingent on identifying opportunities to expand the economy’s outward orientation and to steer it toward internal efficiencies. Continued focus on reform implementation is needed to promote private sector‑led growth and job creation.  The WBG has been a key partner on Jordan’s reform agenda since 2018 and the launch of the GOJ Reform Matrix.  The GOJ’s Economic Priorities Program (EPP) 2021–23 furthers this agenda by prioritizing key business environment reforms activating PPPs and financing in key sectors for investment and job creation. In 2022, Jordan launched an economic visioning exercise to target growth and opportunities over the next 10+ years for the country as well as a public sector modernization plan. Both processes will also guide inclusive and resilient growth and development efforts moving forward.  

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[1] Includes securitization of arrears from IMF 3rd Review Report, December 2021.

[2] Social Security Investment Fund.

Last Updated: May 26, 2022

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Jordan: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments
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Nabeel Darweesh
+ 962 798 277 215