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The narrative of importing clothes and shoes

Jan 05,2019 - Last updated at Jan 05,2019

Garment Traders Association President Munir Dayeh disclosed recently that the sales of clothes, shoes and textiles nosedived last year, by no less than 60 per cent compared with 2017.

Imports of clothing dropped from JD174 million with 2017 and JD192 million in 2016 to JD153 million in 2018. The importation of shoes also witnessed big declines from previous years, according to the same source, having gone down to JD39 million in 2018 from JD48 million in 2017.

What adds insult to injury is the fact that lower imports of clothing items and shoes is not attributed to greater dependence on domestic production. Had this been the case, the reduction in the imports of these goods would have been a blessing and not a curse.

These figures obviously do not paint a bright picture about the national economy of the country or the standard of living of the middle and lower classes. If merchants import fewer goods and sell less then it is obvious that there is something wrong with the national economy as a whole.

The traders who deal with these goods attribute the rapid decline in sales and the lowering of the volume of imports of clothing and shoes to high sales taxes, high import duties, high rents, high income taxes and other related factors, such as the high cost of living for the majority of the people in the country, exacerbated by low wages.

What all this adds up to is rather a pessimistic picture of the standard of living of many people. Come to think of it, why does Jordan still import millions and millions of clothes and shoes, at a cost that runs in the hundreds of millions of dinars, when the country could have manufactured them locally had the government promoted domestic industries for them.

It is understandable that Jordan can produce many high technology goods, but to still rely on foreign manufacturers to put shoes on the feet of the people or clothe them is simply outrageous.

It is never too late to reverse the tide against imported goods that can be produced locally, and now that we know the exact cost of imports that could have been manufactured locally, it is time that the government grabs the bull by the horns and does something fast and effective to rectify this alarming picture of the national economy.

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