AMMAN –– German Ambassador to Jordan Ralph Tarraf said Sunday that Germany does not extend direct cash support to Jordan's state budget. The diplomat told The Jordan Times in an interview that Germany does not provide budget support to any country because this policy was abandoned many years ago by the German government. Budget support for developing countries has not been an instrument producing the results projected for development schemes. "We prefer to finance projects in partnership with governments to ensure economic sustainability," Tarraf said. The envoy indicated that since the Syrian crisis started over two years, the German government has tried to find ways how best to support Jordan in dealing with the crisis, particularly in the water sector. "We saw that the northern governorates needed our support and help and we continued our cooperation in developing the water sector with government partners by launching new programmes in the north," he said. Germany and the international community are grateful for Jordan for hosting a large number of Syrian refugees and to accept the "huge" burden they are putting on the Kingdom's infrastructure, he added. "We owe Jordan not only gratitude and thanks and recognition but also support," Tarraf continued. He indicated that in 2012 and 2013, Germany made new pledges worth 180 million euros to support Jordan in development cooperation, noting that most of the pledges go to the water sector in the northern part of the country. Out of this amount, 125 million euros are soft loans and 55 million euros as grants in the form of financial and technical assistance, he explained, adding the grants include financial ( 25 million euros ) and technical assistance ( 30 million euros ). "Our development cooperation programmes mainly go to host communities in the Kingdom," the diplomat said. On top of the 180 million euros , he noted that Germany has also extended around 100 million euros in humanitarian assistance, which goes to the Syrian refugees directly and indirectly through UN agencies such as the UNHCR and UNICEF . He pointed out that a German institution, the Technical Relief Agency , also launched operations in Jordan two years ago, adding that the governmental entity is specialised in providing relief help in natural disasters mostly in Germany and abroad. The German engineers in the agency built the freshwater supply and sewage networks in the Zaatari Refugee Camp on behalf of UNICEF , Tarraf said. Debt for development swap agreements Asked on whether Amman and Berlin would sign debt swap agreement in the short or medium term, Tarraf commented that Germany has written off the debts Jordan had serviced in the last couple of years. "As far as I'm aware, the debt Jordan had to service in the last couple of years has been written off by the German government. so currently there is no debt of a significant volume that Jordan owes to Germany ," he said. Between 1995 and 2011, Jordan and Germany signed 11 debt-for-development swap agreements worth around 261 million euros as debt claims were exchanged for development projects in the water and education sectors. Investments in Jordan On German investments in the Kingdom, the ambassador said that there is a number of German companies that are present in the Jordanian market, mainly automobile, machinery and in the field of pharmaceuticals. "Unfortunately the Jordanian market for German companies is relatively small so investments are not in the volume which I would as an ambassador like to see," he noted, adding that the embassy encourages German companies to do business in Jordan but the major problem is the size and the volume of the market. " So Jordan is simply not attractive enough for German investors". However, the envoy stressed that this issue would change if Jordan signs free trade agreements with its neighbours and if the region is integrated better in the economic field as investors would be able to access other markets in the region through Jordan. Jordan-EU free trade The ambassador said Germany is in favour of reaching a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement between Jordan and the European Union (EU), which is currently being negotiated. It will enable Jordanian products to have a better access to the European market but these are complicated negotiations and Germany would be happy to see a positive conclusion, he added. "If we can support a full trade agreement from the German side we would love to do that because Jordan is capable of producing and also be present in the European market if the conditions are good." The US gives preferential access to Jordanian products and it works. Why should it not work in the EU, he added, indicating that the major problem to reach a full free trade agreement is that the EU is reluctant to create precedence for one country For a European entity it is more difficult than a national government because reaching such an agreement is based on technical issues and not political aspects. For a national government it is easier to take political aspects into consideration when dealing with its partners, he remarked.
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