Collective Bargaining

Overview of Jordan's Ready Made Garment Sector

Jordan has experienced rapid growth in the apparel industry in recent years, which accounts for nearly 17 percent of the country’s total exports. Apparel exports, mostly to the United States, reached a record high of USD 1.2 billion in 2012.

Briefing note | 30 September 2013
Most apparel factories are situated in 14 Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZs), which are special free trade zones established in 1996 through an agreement between Jordan, Israel and the United States.

In 2001, Jordan negotiated and passed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States that resulted in a run on foreign investment in the garment sector.

Apparel exports account for more than half of Jordanian exports to the United States. The QIZs produce clothes for a host of international brands including Ralph Lauren, Walmart, and Gap, which enter the United States at lower costs.

Over two thirds of the 40,000 workers who work in factories producing for the international market are migrant workers from South and South-East Asia. The majority of migrant workers originate from India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Women represent more than 60 percent of the labour force.

Jobs in the garment industry are largely unskilled and low paid with long working hours. Over the years, workers have staged strikes over poor living and working conditions, and a lack of bargaining power and representation.