Arab Today, arab today syria slashes imports to save dwindling foreign reserves
Last Updated : GMT 09:41:38
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Licences to request favourable exchange rate

Syria slashes imports to save dwindling foreign reserves

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Syria slashes imports to save dwindling foreign reserves

Syrian women sit on a bench as they eat with a young boy in the city of Damascus
Damascus - Arab Today

Syria's government, presiding over an economy ravaged by war and facing dwindling foreign currency reserves, is taking new measures to slash imports and prop up exports.
Importers require government licences that allow them to request a favourable exchange rate at the Syrian central bank.
But the government has in recent months issued fewer licences, and the central bank has increasingly declined to offer importers the favourable conversion rate.
"A month ago, I got a text message from the economy finance ministry telling me that because of the shrinking foreign currency reserves, I would no longer get the preferential dollar rate at the central bank," one importer of consumer goods told AFP.
"I've been left to fend for myself."
An official at Syria's economy ministry, quoted by the Al-Watan daily, said two-thirds of import licences granted in the last quarter of 2014 went to industries considered essential, including fuel, agriculture and pharmaceuticals.
That quarter, the government received import requests worth $2.7 billion, but only granted licences worth $1.2 billion, the official told the newspaper, which is close to the regime.
And the central bank offered preferential exchange rates to just 13 percent of those granted licences.
The measures come as Syria's economy suffers the ravages of more than four years of conflict that began with an anti-government uprising in March 2011.
The Syrian Centre for Policy Research (SCPR) estimates losses to the Syrian economy totalling $202.6 billion, equivalent to 383 percent of GDP in 2010, the year before war broke out.
"A decision was taken to increase exports and limit imports," Fares Shehabi, president of the Syrian Federation of Chambers of Industry, told AFP.
"What can be produced locally, will be, and what can be produced here will not be imported. We can provide the market with many products," he said.
- 'We don't need pineapples' -
But that assessment may be optimistic, considering the decline in local manufacturing along with the other economic consequences of the war.
By 2013, the SCPR estimated manufacturing output had fallen to just 18.6 percent of its 2010 levels.
Last year, it rebounded somewhat, but was still at just 21.7 percent of 2010 levels by the end of 2014.
The country's key agriculture sector has been similarly ravaged, contracting 31.9 percent in 2013 compared to the previous year, according to the SCPR.
"We asked the government to reduce imports and encourage local industry and exports," said Mazen Hammour, secretary general of the Syrian Federation of Exporters.
"If local industry is solid, then exports will increase and so will foreign reserves," he told AFP.
"The country doesn't need to be importing luxury products like pineapples and French cheeses," he added.
"We should be importing primary materials necessary for local industry to produce merchandise that is export quality."
According to Al-Watan, Syria's exports in 2014 were worth just $1.8 billion, down from $11.3 billion in 2010.
The ratio of exports to imports deteriorated from 82.7 percent in 2010 to 29.7 percent in 2014, according to SCPR.
Iyad Mohamed, the exporters association treasurer, said measures to protect domestic manufacturing were desperately needed.
"We want our industry to be protected, like a newborn," he said, while acknowledging that a return to the closed economy over which former president Hafez al-Assad ruled was impossible.
"We can't go back in time, particularly as we have to respect the commercial deals we have with other countries," he said.
- Difficult export routes -
Before the conflict, oil exports constituted a significant part of the country's economy.
But a Western embargo and the loss of key oil fields to the jihadist Daesh group has decimated crude sales.
Now the country's main exports are agricultural products, textiles and leather, medicine, flowers and ceramics.
The sanctions largely apply to state-run enterprises, with private entrepreneurs still able to trade internationally.
Most exports go to Iraq, with Lebanon coming in second, largely as a transit point.
But exporting the goods is not always easy, with money needed to smooth passage on the more difficult routes.
To reach Iraq, exports must go through the Al-Tanaf border crossing, which is held by the government on the Syrian side, but Daesh on the Iraqi side.
To reach the Gulf, goods go through Jordan, and to Europe they pass through Lebanon.
Businessmen joke that they are reactivating old routes from the time of Hafez al-Assad, but in reverse.
Then, the routes were a way to smuggle in foreign products, now they are a way to get them out.
With all the measures being taken to protect foreign reserves, the actual amount available in the central bank remains a mystery,.
"It's a well-kept secret. The only thing that's sure is that the Syrian pound has lost 80 percent of its value against the dollar in four years," said Mohamed.
Source: AFP

Name *

E-mail *

Comment Title*

Comment *

: Characters Left

Mandatory *

Terms of use

Publishing Terms: Not to offend the author, or to persons or sanctities or attacking religions or divine self. And stay away from sectarian and racial incitement and insults.

I agree with the Terms of Use

Security Code*

Arab Today, arab today syria slashes imports to save dwindling foreign reserves Arab Today, arab today syria slashes imports to save dwindling foreign reserves

 



Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today Mohamed Bahari prepares new collection for spring 2017

GMT 06:15 2017 Monday ,27 February

Mohamed Bahari prepares new collection for spring 2017
Arab Today, arab today 17.4 million tourists visit UAE in 2016

GMT 00:47 2017 Monday ,27 February

17.4 million tourists visit UAE in 2016
Arab Today, arab today Sheds light on major steps in 12-year career

GMT 06:07 2017 Monday ,27 February

Sheds light on major steps in 12-year career
Arab Today, arab today UN envoy sets out framework

GMT 07:25 2017 Monday ,27 February

UN envoy sets out framework
Arab Today, arab today Ayat Abaza says state TV presented major stars

GMT 03:52 2017 Sunday ,26 February

Ayat Abaza says state TV presented major stars

GMT 12:38 2017 Thursday ,23 February

Lower fares hit Qantas first half profit

GMT 10:57 2017 Thursday ,23 February

Chief executive out at Paramount Pictures

GMT 07:26 2017 Thursday ,23 February

A peek inside Qatar's 'gas capital of the world'

GMT 11:26 2017 Wednesday ,22 February

Dutch corporate takeover defences tough to breach

GMT 11:14 2017 Wednesday ,22 February

Lloyds Banking Group posts surging profits

GMT 10:01 2017 Tuesday ,21 February

Egypt pound rebounds from flotation slide
View News in Arabic - Business: أخبار الأعمال
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today Reading therapy relieves mental disorders

GMT 15:39 2017 Friday ,24 February

Reading therapy relieves mental disorders
Arab Today, arab today UK appoints 1st Scotland Yard chief in 188 years

GMT 05:14 2017 Thursday ,23 February

UK appoints 1st Scotland Yard chief in 188 years
Arab Today, arab today Penguins in the age of dinos

GMT 11:44 2017 Saturday ,25 February

Penguins in the age of dinos
Arab Today, arab today Pluto's unruly moons

GMT 06:31 2015 Thursday ,04 June

Pluto's unruly moons
Arab Today, arab today 'Constructive' Vauxhall talk with union

GMT 08:54 2017 Saturday ,25 February

'Constructive' Vauxhall talk with union
Arab Today, arab today Tesla back into red but revenue grows

GMT 07:27 2017 Thursday ,23 February

Tesla back into red but revenue grows
Arab Today, arab today Reasons for the delay 'On the Stairs of Servants'

GMT 06:42 2017 Saturday ,25 February

Reasons for the delay 'On the Stairs of Servants'
Arab Today, arab today Ex-yoga missionary unleashes rage

GMT 12:16 2017 Thursday ,23 February

Ex-yoga missionary unleashes rage

GMT 07:23 2017 Friday ,24 February

Ola Ghanem hopes to work with M.Ramadan

GMT 12:35 2017 Tuesday ,21 February

63-Year-Old Woman Delivers Baby

GMT 18:23 2017 Friday ,24 February

Fadi explains secrets of  Nancy Ajram's newlook

GMT 10:28 2017 Wednesday ,22 February

Milan laughs while Rome cries

GMT 19:45 2017 Monday ,20 February

Sarah Belamesh designs antiques of "ceramic"

GMT 10:51 2017 Saturday ,25 February

Pigs with edited genes show resistance

GMT 14:04 2017 Friday ,24 February

Messi visit will contribute in tourism

GMT 13:12 2015 Saturday ,09 May

Sheikh Sultan opens Sharjah Centre

GMT 22:42 2017 Thursday ,23 February

Nasima Gamei revives heritage in jewelries
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
 
 Arab Today Facebook,arab today facebook  Arab Today Twitter,arab today twitter Arab Today Rss,arab today rss  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube
arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday
arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday
arabstoday
بناية النخيل - رأس النبع _ خلف السفارة الفرنسية _بيروت - لبنان
arabstoday, Arabstoday, Arabstoday