Imports/Exports in Syria
Since the late 1990s, Syria has been very open to international trade. In 2005, is signed a free-trade agreement with Turkey (in operation since 2007) and joined the GAFTA (Great Arab Free Trade Area), a regional free-trade zone, while an association agreement with the European Union was drafter in 2005, then in 2008 and has been ready to be signed since the fall of 2009.
Foreign trade represents about 70% of the country’s GDP. Last numbers published by Syria’s central statistical bureau for foreign trade date from 2008 and give the figure of 14.227 billion EUR of imports against 11.997 billion EUR of exports, i.e. a trade deficit of 2.231 billion EUR.
Exports rose by 12% per year on average between 2004 and 2010, while imports rose by 14% per year. It therefore seems that the global economic crisis did somewhat affect foreign trade, however its bases appear healthy enough to continue the policy of opening up economically.
Syria main exports are its oil resources (42% of exports in 2008), textile (16%), livestock and vegetables (12%), as well as food products (11%). Its main clients are the Arab countries, up to 51% with a particular intensification of trade relations with Iraq, Lebanon and Algeria, followed by the European Union with up to 34%, with Germany and Italy in the lead and France only taking the 6th place. In terms of imports, the most important position belongs to oil products, with up to 35%, and also to metals and fabricated metal products, followed by chemical industry, livestock and consumer goods. The two main suppliers are the European Union (29%) and Asia (25%), respectively.
|Foreign Trade Indicators||2006||2007||2008||2009||2010|
|Imports of Goods (million USD)||11,488||14,655||18,105||15,291||16,950|
|Exports of Goods (million USD)||10,919||11,546||15,410||10,855||14,000|
|Imports of Services (million USD)||2,437||2,917||3,127||2,754||-|
|Exports of Services (million USD)||2,649||3,562||3,770||4,579||-|
|Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||0.2||8.4||2.5||6.4||-|
|Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||40.8||2.5||-2.4||5.6||-|
|Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||36.4||37.7||32.0||35.7||-|
|Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||40.1||38.5||31.7||33.9||-|
|Trade Balance (million USD)||886||-521||773||-||-|
|Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD)||1,290||328||-||-||-|
|Foreign Trade (in % of GDP)||76.4||76.2||63.7||69.6||-|
Source: WTO - World Trade Organization ; World Bank
Main Partner Countries
(% of Exports)
|Other partnersClose extended list||43.4%|
(% of Imports)
|Other partnersClose extended list||63.8%|
Exchange Rate System
- Exchange Rate Regime
The government has undertaken real reforms in order to reorganize its archaic Syrian financial system, allowing free access to the exchange system. Chronologically, Syrian private banks were able to begin their operations in Syria as of January 2004 (nationalization of banks in 1963 by the Baath party). The exchange agents were authorized to do transactions at the beginning of March 2006 and they have actually started them in September 2007.
The liberalization of the exchange controls will gradually continue, thanks to the maturity of the private banking sector and to the private companies that play a role, more and more important, in the banking activity.
The law n°10 does not impose limits to investors in the import of foreign currencies. However, the total imported currencies must be deposited into an account at the Commercial Bank of Syria, as well as 75% of the income obtained from exports. The regime of capital repatriation is more flexible within the framework of the law n°10. Finally, foreign investors can transfer their profits annually.
- Level of Currency Instability
- In spite that the government has established reforms in order to insure a free access to the exchange system, the central bank of Syria maintains a tight control to insure a short-term stability. The Syrian pound is pegged to the IMF, in accordance to a basket of currencies (USD, EUR, GBP, JPY), which assures certain stability to the currency. In spite of a certain pressure on the Rial at the beginning of 2009, Syria has managed to keep itself stable. In a long-term perspective, if Syria continues to liberalize its exchange policy, it is possible that the Syrian pound (SYP) will slowly gain value against the USD.
|Syrian Pound (SYP) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD||11.23||11.23||11.23||11.23||11.23|
Source: World Bank
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