JT | Oct 18, 2012 | 00:03 Updated: Oct 18, 2012 | 00:03

AMMAN — Achieving self-sufficiency in Jordan requires the removal of distortions in the energy market and investing nearly $20-$25 billion in the coming 10 years, Jordan Economic Social Council President Jawad Anani said on Wednesday.

In remarks during the 2012 Euro-Mediterranean Summit of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions, which opened on Wednesday in Amman, Anani said since the global financial crisis Jordan was hit by five setbacks, namely the international economic crisis, the European crisis, the Arab Spring, the Syrian crisis and the energy crisis, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

The growing number of Syrian refugees in Jordan not only increased costs on the country, but also caused damage to the Kingdom’s commercial and transport interests due to the closure of Syrian ports and the subsequent disruption in the flow of goods. As a result, this would cost the country JD600 million annually, Anani noted.

He added that political, legislative and institutional reforms are complementary to economic and social reforms, as Jordan suffers from high percentages of poverty and unemployment reaching 13 per cent.

The government has to make some difficult economic decisions that require wisdom, national consensus and thorough studies, Anani said, noting that these steps will not be easy to implement in light of the Arab Spring, in an apparent reference to an expected decision to redirect subsidies to low- and limited-income Jordanians to save public money and address budgetary woes.

Jordan, according to official figures, imports 96 per cent of its energy needs and a recent decision by Cairo to stop pumping gas to the country has deepened the crisis.

He highlighted the role of economic social councils in drawing up relations between countries, noting that Jordan has succeeded in building commercial ties with the US, but still suffers large trade deficit with the European Union.

The three-day event brings together participants from a range of Arab and international economic and social councils, or similar institutions.