Usaid Development Experience Clearinghouse

8403 Colesville Rd
Silver Spring MD 20910

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The United States Agency for International Development ( USAID ) is the principal U.S. government agency providing economic and development assistance to partner countries in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States. Since 1952, the U.S.-Jordanian development partnership has been an important component of the relationship between the two countries. Committed to together developing Jordan into an oasis of stability and economic prosperity, USAID and the Government of Jordan have been cooperating together for the past five decades in a wide range of sectors including water, agriculture, economic development, education, health, tourism, environment, and infrastructure. Total economic assistance devoted to these efforts since 1952 now exceeds $4.4 billion. Poor in natural resources, lacking a well-developed industrial base, and surrounded by powerful neighbors, Jordan's economy is influenced by economic and political conditions elsewhere in the region. The effects of the second Intifada in the Palestinian territories, September 11th events, and the war with Iraq have led to decreases in investor confidence and tourism, two major sources of foreign exchange. Rapid population growth continues to place enormous burdens on a water-scarce country in which jobs are not being created fast enough to absorb a growing workforce. Unemployment is a persistent and growing problem, and poverty levels remain high. Weak decision-making institutions and low civic participation present another challenge for Jordan's economic and social development. Despite these challenges, Jordan has been able to maintain a stable political environment, which allowed it to seize opportunities for economic and political advancement. Continued commitment to implementing a wide-ranging program of economic restructuring and reform developed in cooperation with the IMF, USAID and the World Bank has been instrumental in considerably increasing GDP growth rates in the past three years. Macroeconomic stability has been restored and the debt burden is more manageable than it was a few years ago. Within the region, Jordan's comparative advantage continues to rest with its young, well-educated population, world class tourist attractions, and clear commitment to political and educational reform. Jordan is now poised to transform itself into a hub of dynamic economic and social reform. It became a member of the World Trade Organization ( WTO ) in 2000, and, subsequently, the U.S. and Jordan signed a Free Trade Agreement ( FTA ) in 2001. King Abdullah II has advanced a program for reform called the Social and Economic Transformation Plan ( SETP ). This plan focuses on economic reform through private sector development, education, political reform and health care reform. Jordan First represents a second major policy initiative by the Jordanian government. This comprehensive program aims to increase participation of all Jordanians in civil society and governance. A third reform plan, Education Reform for the Knowledge Economy ( ERfKE ), addresses the future human capacity requirements of Jordan through improved early childhood, primary, and secondary education. To address these challenges, and capitalizing on 50 years of productive cooperation with the citizens of Jordan and the Jordanian Government, USAID's activities over the next five years will focus on five main sectors: