Inflation looms for Jordan due to regional unrest

Bisher Al Khasawneh
Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh . (File photo: Jordan News)
AMMANPrime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh urged ministries and competent authorities on Sunday to take the appropriate steps to address the potential inflationary impacts on the Jordanian market as a result of Israel's ongoing war on Gaza and the situation in the Red Sea, Al-Mamlaka TV reported.اضافة اعلان

"15 percent of the volume of international trade passes through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, and due to the ongoing Israeli aggression against [Palestinians] in the Gaza Strip, regional developments have taken place that some transport companies see as posing risks to their continued crossing through the strait," Khasawneh said during a Cabinet session.

According to international estimates, as well as estimates from the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Supply, the cost of transport trucks from Southeast Asia has increased by 160-170 percent, and in many cases by 60-100 percent for trucks and containers from North America and Europe. Furthermore, the cost of insuring imported items has risen.

According to Khasawneh, if this condition persists, it would have an inflationary effect because the commercial and industrial sectors operate based on lawful profit. As a result, they will represent expenses with profit margins, and any increase is likely to be reflected in the prices of goods and commodities. "Because the merchant, and rightfully so, does not perform a social function but rather works on the basis of profit," he went on to say.

The Prime Minister emphasized that the vast majority of the private business, industrial, and tourism sectors have always been highly responsible and have agreed that profit margins should be appropriate.

"Our duty is to try to mitigate some of the inflationary aspects through measures that will lead to reducing them with regard to price differences," the prime minister went on to say.

He stated that he had tasked the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, as well as the Ministers of Finance and Transport, with providing their perspectives on what we can offer "not within the framework of financing windows because we do not have these financing windows in the context of our commitments and financial capabilities, and the general policy of the state that does not provide general subsidies, but rather support towards the needy citizen and not support for comrades."

He went on to say, "Perhaps we have means to mitigate this inflationary effect by adopting a measure similar to the measure we adopted during the Corona pandemic regarding setting a customs ceiling on the value of incoming containers based on their price and the ceiling that was in place before October 7 of last year."

He emphasized that the Jordanian Armed Forces - the Arab Army (JAF) have committed to providing basic commodities in the Military Service Consumer Corporation markets at their existing pricing, especially as the holy month of Ramadan approaches.

He also asked the Ministers of Industry, Trade, Supply, and Transport to guarantee that the situation is monitored and that shipping movements are regular. He stated that the regularity of shipping to the Port of Aqaba has not been significantly affected, implying that the regularity of maritime traffic is still in place, albeit with delays caused by many shipping companies' decisions to avoid the Bab al-Mandeb Strait and instead travel to the Cape of Good Hope. This causes trucks to be delayed rather than completely stopped.

He also mentioned that work is being done to establish alternate solutions within the scope of what are known as "feeder lines," while emphasizing that the regularity of product arrival is still in place and there are no restrictions. Some companies whose ships stopped sailing through the Bab al-Mandeb route began to reverse this decision a few days ago, but what we are discussing is the potential inflationary effect that may affect us due to large increases in shipping and insurance costs, which merchants usually reflect legitimately on the prices of goods.