Coming to a Mind Near You

Shoe makers, money laundering ,prostitution and the FTA Part 2

Written by Cypher .

A few months before I first started exploring this issue there was an area in downtown that had dozens of operational shops. When I began my last visits in mid February there were 5 operational shops.

Last week, I visited the area again, 3 of the 5 remaining shops have shut down. Furthermore, there are Chinese shoes on the market now, which sell to wholesalers for .90 Jods!!!! Yes you read that correct, this means that whomever is supplying these shoes, finds it feasible to ship the shoes from China to Aqaba, then transport it by land to Amman, unload the shoes at his warehouse, pack it in a .25 jod box and still make profit!!!!

There are numerous problems with this figure, lets assume that there are such prices in China, what about the quality of these shoes?  Don’t they have to meet the standards set by the authorities in Jordan? If so, can one seriously argue that these standards are adequate when it costs the Jordanian manufacturers 3 jods to produce a pair of shoes? The shops owners in Jordan sells both shoes for the same price, (The 3 JOD Jordanian shoes and the .90 JOD Chinese shoes) so to increase their margin of profit they buy the imported Chinese product instead of the Jordanian one. These savings do not translate into lower prices for the paying customer; it just increases the margins of profits for the shop owners. In the current economic situation, can one really blame them?


I love this picture, its  writings on a wall right before the entrance to workshop areas, so I am going to go through the trouble of explaining the arabic to those who cant read it , from right to left the writings translate into

1- Vacant office spaces and , rooms and worshops are for rent.

2-Part from a verse from the Koran, the meaning would be lost if I did not translate the whole verse so here it is “Humans and the patient who, when afflicted with calamity, say: Allah and to Him we shall return to them those prayers and mercy from their Lord, and those are the Rightly Guided”

3-Fear God.

4-A plead to god for coverage or protection.

There was a young guy at the shop, a 16 year old who had left school four years earlier and who was at a loss in terms of what to do next as the shop is almost certain to close down. When I suggested that I could arrange for him to continue his studies or get some sort of formal trade training , his reply was “ Ya zalameh ana min al joufeh, shu bedu yetla3 minni “ in English “ Man I am from al joufa (one of the poorest neighborhoods in Amman), I am destined to be useless”. His uncle was present as well and he shouted to his nephew “ This man is trying to help you, stop acting like a child “, I decided to let it go and turned my attention to the uncle and asked him” What’s your income these days, after the drop in sales that you guys are suffering”. He answered “ I am lucky to make 30-40 jods ($40-60) per week these days” this is a man who has a wife and three kids minds you, so I asked again and I admit I was nervous when I did, “ How on earth are you doing to survive” to which he replied, “ I don’t know man, I don’t know, what should we do? Rob people?” What exactly should you answer a man who asks you this question?

What should we do man? Rob people?

Vacant offices at the shop

Since the Chinese shoes are of lower quality, their life span is also shorter, which means that it will cost the Jordanain customers more money in the long run to wear shoes.

Consider this when you ponder that Jordanians have spent over the last 4 years more than $ 100 million on the import of shoes and raw materials to make shoes. If the current situation continues then we wont be importing the raw materials , we will only be importing the finished products.

FYI, overall, we import around $1.5 billion yearly from China, our exports? 51 million!!!!

This means that we are sending china hundreds of millions of dollars , to import shoes with life spans of 6 months,  then throwing the shoes in the garbage when they are worn out  and in the process putting literally thousands of Jordanian workers out on their back side, while our hard earned hard currency  leaves the country and comes back to us in the form of very low quality shoes.

On avg the shop used to produce around 12 thousand pairs per year, the way things are going, they estimate they will produce around 1500 this year.


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11 responses

  1. Maha

    Brilliant photos. This is very sad, and this is only one industry, Jordan is too small to benefit from free trade agreements. It used to be that you can learn a vocation and make a living but small workshops are getting killed by international competition.

    ويل لامة تلبس مما لا تنسج ، وتأكل مما لا تزرع
    Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave, eats a bread it does not harvest~Gibran

    March 30, 2010 at 9:28 am

    • funny i was gonna end the article with that poem , with 1.5 billion in imports it sure effects many industries

      April 2, 2010 at 10:57 pm

  2. my mums at a loss for words when reading this article…thanks cypher for enlightening us on this matter… what’s happening just down the road from us is something hopefully people like u and me can one day start to change!!!!

    big respect x

    March 30, 2010 at 10:36 am

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  4. Pingback: East Shoe Makers [Part II] « The Daily Take

  5. Mirvat

    China deliberately undervalues the Yuan to make Chinese exports more competitive… And world powers wonder why nations often resort to protectionism. Without a level international playing field, the less competitive of us are bound to bear the brunt of this double standard.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/China-foreign-minister-warns-apf-3155532704.html?x=0

    March 30, 2010 at 6:24 pm

  6. The pictures all show the same, the honest are being seiged by the brutal merchants of our modern day economic battlefield. Through angles, colors, shapes and peculiarities we can see the results of how foreign products sold in Jordanian markets are detrimental to the well being of Jordanians, and in particular Jordanian shoemakers.
    What good does it do to ignore the pain, the suffering, the plight of our Jordanian brothers and sisters, wives, children, grandparents?
    Oh great people of Jordan, you’re blessed to have your culture, religion and traditions and more importantly, your people. Do not forsake them, do not allow them to be preyed upon by the vultures of unjust profit. Defend your national pride, defend your economic livelihoods at the community and at the national level. Shoe making Jordanian brothers and sisters, go out, organise and form cooperatives of shoe makers in which output #s, quality standards and price controls will be established.

    Once formed, contact your media outlets and have them spread the word that you will not be victims, that you will unite and organize and that you will continue to work hard, that you will continue to support your families, that you will continue to be unbendable roots supporting the tree of Jordanian self determination and preservation.
    Your craftsmanship, your pride will prevail and will be an example for other bands of persons that are targeted by the viciousness, the brutality, the total ignorance and lack of self worth by the vultures of economic destruction and inequality.

    For example, what good does it do you to buy cheap shoes made in China and made by some poor, uneducated person who is exploited, who slaves away in a dangerous, poisonous factory?
    What good does it do for this poor Chinese and their family to slave away for a meager wage, when the unjust and greedy factory owner, shareholders and contry will make all of the profit and will profit from the misery of this hard working Chinese, and that will profit from the unemployment and econ0mic destruction of the Jordanian shoemaker?
    Enough is enough. Immortalentertainment uses black and white pictures for a specific reason i think. I think they are telling us that this fight, this plight is exactly just that, black and white. Either you’re part of the problem or you’re part of the solution, thats it. Are you part of the problem? Are you forsaking a livelihood of a hardworking Jordanian family that makes shoes, just so that you can save some ‘economic crumbs’ off the table of economic globalized economy?
    Are you ignoring the blood, sweat and tears that it took to make a pair of Jordanian shoes? Are you forgetting the pride and beauty of your own culture, the strength of craftmanship that the cultural world is awaiting?

    The Truth is that our international global economy and the companies, shareholders, countries, institutions and individuals that promote and profit from it, purposely try to increase their profits at any means necessary and detrimental to the local family businesses and jeapordazing the entire social well being of the families and economy. A consequence of this is the increase of inequality between the have and the have nots, jealousy, hatred, fear, militarization, crazed greed and violence.
    Are you part of the problem or are you part of the solution. If you profit from the misery of your brother are you a prophet of misery? If you live and defend your brother and sister are you a prophet of equality and goodness? Much love immortal

    April 2, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    • I dont spend most of my days in east amman to simply write an article or to show case what I can do with a sick camera, no sir, I do this so that hopefully it will turn into a national campaign that will help save this industry and the thousands of Jordanians who depend on it for income, that will be covered in part 3 and 4, thank you for taking the time to read through it and getting the larger picture out there, you basically said what I wanted to say in later part so thank you , whomever you are.

      April 2, 2010 at 10:48 pm

  7. much love immortal, this is your boy, annonymous mcsuch and such , I knew you had a plan, saw your photos and wanted to lend my brotha a helping hand, cuz aint no joke man, you know dis damn life of ourz, man is fo real, man we’re takin it to em like we said we would, holler from the sideline, 3, 2, 1, swish homie
    keepin it real, keepin it 100 , man ……… we gotta kik it soon, peace and Im out, until the next cyber telecast, much love immortal, peace

    April 24, 2010 at 1:36 am

  8. Keep the good work, it is truely worth publishing.
    I am a publisher myself of Jordan Property Magazine , and would to cooperate with you on other issues related to my magazine.
    If you find it interesting please get in touch.

    June 8, 2010 at 3:16 pm

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