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Germany to provide Jordan with $800m in financial aid

Cash injection from European country set to alleviate kingdom's economy woes
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and King Abdullah II of Jordan give a joint press conference following talks on economic issues and the bilateral relationship of their two countries (AFP)

Germany is holding talks with Jordanian officials to invest a record 729.4m euros ($801m) into the cash-strapped kingdom, local media reported.

Jordan, a close ally of the United States that relies heavily on donors, is struggling to curb its debt after securing a $723m loan from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.

Austerity measures tied to the loan have seen prices of basic necessities rise across the country. Jordan's debt at the end of July 2018 was $39bn - 96.4 percent of gross national product.

Since June 2018, the austerity measures and dire economic situation have embroiled the country in on-and-off protests held by professional unions and other groups.

This week, Jordanian teachers agreed to end their four-week strike, which has severely disrupted schooling in the kingdom.

They had been demanding a 50 percent rise and an apology from the government for an attack carried out by security forces on a protest four months ago.

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German Ambassador to Jordan Birgitta Maria Siefker-Eberle said that 400m euros would go towards water, education and budget support, with another 100m euros for humanitarian aid, military and security assistance. She did not specify where the rest of the financial aid would go.

Jordan has been blaming its economic woes on the instability rocking the region and the burden of hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from war-torn Syria, complaining it has not received enough international support. 

Siefker-Eberle said Jordan is “accomplishing extraordinary results in a conflict-ridden region and has been shouldering a great humanitarian responsibility”.

Qatar last summer extended a $500m aid package to Jordan only days after its Gulf rivals Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as Kuwait, together pledged $2.5bn to help the kingdom overcome its economic crisis.

In recent months, Qatar made more jobs available for Jordanians as part of the aid package, which includes project finance and job-generating investments.

Jordan's foreign policy has had to tread a difficult path between competing regional powers.

Jordanian officials have privately expressed dismay that, despite their country's ailing economy, aid extended by leading donor Saudi Arabia had in recent years fallen short of the levels it once delivered.