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New virus variant brings worry for economists, clothing sector reps

By Batool Ghaith - Dec 02,2021 - Last updated at Dec 02,2021

The prices of many imported items, including footwear, clothing and fabrics, have increased up to 15 per cent, merchants say (JT file photo)

AMMAN — The pandemic uncertainty, along with price hikes and the start of the winter season, have for the second year in a row created many difficulties for Jordanians. 

The prices of many imported items, including footwear, clothing and fabrics, have increased up to 15 per cent, according to merchants.

Khalid Saeed, a clothes and footwear retailer in Amman, said that the market is suffering. 

“Many merchants are withdrawing from the market gradually because of the increase in international shipping fees and sea freight, especially from the Far East countries. This reflects on the final prices of imported products,” he told The Jordan Times on Thursday.

He noted that before the pandemic, merchants used to pay $2,000 for a container to be shipped from a Far East country to Jordan, while now they pay $12,000 for shipping a container instead.

“Most citizens are suffering from the pandemic’s impact financially, which has affected their demand and purchasing power,” Saeed added.

Saeed also expressed worry regarding the new pandemic wave hitting the Kingdom: “We do not know what to expect now and we definitely cannot handle lockdowns again”.

Jordan is currently suffering from elevated levels of unemployment, with over 400,000 unemployed Jordanians in the Kingdom, according to the Ministry of Labour.

Hosam Ayesh, an economic analyst, stressed that the pandemic’s impact is “continuous” on all sectors globally, noting that the recovery period was short.

“Reaching an economic growth rate of 3.2 per cent in the third quarter of 2021 in Jordan was good. However, in the last quarter, the third global wave of the pandemic with the new Omicron variant has returned,” he said.

The average per capita GDP in Jordan decreased by about 4 per cent during 2020 and 2021, as a result of the pandemic and the new wave will lead to a further decrease, according to Ayesh.

“The world is facing a wave of high inflation rates, as food prices rose by about 40 per cent. The world has not faced such inflation rates in two decades,” he added.

Ayesh also pointed to the rise in unemployment rates over the last two years and the deterioration of many institutions' and families’ spending capabilities.

Ayesh indicated that with any closures, due to the new wave of the coronavirus, there are thousands of SMEs and businesses that will withdraw from the market.

Nizar Abu Ali, a sales employee in a company in Amman, said that the price hike has made it very difficult to buy and sell. 

“I am not able to buy stuff the way I used to before, everything is more expensive now, while people have less money due to the pandemic,” he told The Jordan Times on Thursday.

Abu Ali noted that many people only buy the basic necessities.

“Anything entertaining or not needed is not purchased nor on demand nowadays,” he added.

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