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”
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.