The United States and Jordan signed on Sunday a transfer agreement of $845 million of annual financial support in cash that will be allocated to the Jordanian government in the final installment of a five-year, $6.4bn aid package signed in February 2018, officials in Amman said as the country remains heavily dependent on foreign aid.
The Hashemite kingdom, which has a long border with Israel, is an important ally of the US in the Middle East but also relies heavily on assistance from the US, Europe, and regional allies due to its economy, which has been mostly stagnant for over a decade and the unemployment rate at 23%.
The agreement was signed in Amman by Jordan’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Zeina Toukan and Margaret Spears, Jordan’s deputy mission director at the US Agency for International Development (USAID)
Spears pointed out that the money would be used by the Jordanian government to cover key obligations – including salaries – with water and education being among the main sectors where the funding would be used.
Noting that Washington will provide the aid by the end of the month, Toukan added that the money would be used for financing development projects and implementing economic reforms in different sectors.
Underscoring Jordan’s gratitude for the support, Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh, who was also present at the signing ceremony, said that this support demonstrates the US understands the challenges Jordan is facing.
Back in September, Washington committed to providing Aman with another $10.1bn in aid to be disbursed over seven years – between 2023 and 2029.
The new package, which is yet to be approved by Congress, proposes $350m in annual development assistance, $400m in security assistance, $610m a year in cash transfers, and another $75m every year to support Jordan’s economic reforms – an increase of 16% on an annualized basis.
According to the US ambassador to Jordan, Henry Wooster, this is the minimum threshold, and the amount might be increased by Congress.
Stressing that this aid package shows the significance of the US-Jordan relationship, USAID’s Spears described it as unusual both due to its length as well as its inclusion of a large proportion of cash transfers.
US and Jordan also signed a military pact last year under which Washington will provide the several thousand US troops stationed there with more logistical and other support.