Jordan's growth increased to 3% in 2013 compared to 2.7% in 2012. The economy suffered during 2011 and 2012 mainly due to regional political unrest particularly in Syria and Egypt. For example, Syria's civil war has caused an influx of refugees into the country straining labor, housing and public services. Shortfalls and distributional disruptions in gas flows from Egypt is another concern. Public sector debt in 2013 increased from 2012 and stands around 86% of the economy's GDP.
External debt is currently around 18% of the GDP. More positively, Jordan's inflation rate and its deficit declined in 2013. Jordan's major challenges include attracting foreign direct investment enough to increase employment and global competitiveness of locally-based companies. The growth outlook for 2014 is positive with the economy expected to grow by 3.5%.
Trade and services comprises about two-thirds of Jordan's GDP, which continues a consistent expansion, growing 4.8% in the first nine months of 2013 compared to 3.2% in the same period of 2012. Transport and communications drives much of that trade and services growth which posted gains of 4%.
Real estate and business services grew by 3.8%. Trade restaurants and hotels grew by 3.6%. Queen Alia International Airport was a major factor in the transport sector with 6,024,078 passengers during the first 11 months of 2013, a 3.7% increase over the same period in 2012.The number of aircraft and the volume of cargo increased only slightly during that time. Seaport traffic slowed by 17.8% in the first 11 months of 2013 and the number of vessels decreased by 2,240, or 7.1%. The number of passengers using the port declined by 17.8%, which incidentally was the same rate that goods declined a decrease of 15.07 million tons.
Tourism declined for the third consecutive year with 4,798,700 visitors comprising a 17.8% decline in 2013. The number of Turkish and Arab tourists, especially Syrians and Egyptians, dropped more dramatically than others. Consequently, four- and five-star hotel occupancy levels also declined 61% in 2013 compared to a decline of 69% in 2012 and the average room rate increased 3.3% to $155.
Drought and regional conflict has hurt Jordan's agricultural sector, which comprises about 3% of GDP and has seen a 14.3% rise in vegetable product prices in 2013 following a 5% rise in 2012. A large part of the price rise can be attributed to higher demand due to the large number of Syrian refugees flooding into Jordan. Despite slowing domestic production, agricultural exports grew by 13% in 2013 on top of 8.1% growth in 2012.
New company registrations in agriculture declined by 5% in the first 10 months of 2013, compared to a 24.7% decline over the same period in 2012. The number of credit facilities extended to agricultural sector companies declined by 7.5% in 2013 after an 11% expansion the prior year. Jordan's industrial sector also slowed to a 0.6% growth rate in the first nine months of 2013, compared to 1.5% in the same period in 2012. Credit facilities extended to industrial activities excluding mining comprised only 5.3% in 2013 compared to 9.5% in 2012. Manufacturing increased 1.7% in the first nine months of 2013 compared to a 2.3% drop in the same period in 2012.