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 Dec 28 2009 

 Syrian Economy, Balanced Growth Rates…Reform Covers all Sectors


The Syrian economic strategy, over the past eight years, focused on improving the economic conditions to be compatible with the global developments and transformations in addition to the preparation of the correct and solid ground to accelerate the pace of the transition to the social market economy.

This will lead to improving the living and economic conditions of citizens and ensuring the legislative and institutional environment for the creation of investment framework that meets the aspirations of local, Arab and foreign investors and the achievement of balanced and acceptable growth rates.

With the approach of the end of the second phase of the 10th 5-Year Plan, the economic measures made a fundamental and important step to move the Syrian economy into the social market economy, which was adopted in 10th Congress of al-Baath Arab Socialist Party.

Within this framework, in recent years, a wide range of legislations and resolutions were issued aimed at revitalizing the active economic instruments and attracting capitals through, organizing and facilitating procedures of the implementation of investment projects, developing the necessary legislations, diversifying the investment incentives and guarantees, modernizing the industrial sector, sharing the private sector in the development process, creating flexibility in the labor market, financing small and medium enterprises, developing the infrastructure, boosting the new economy and changing culture of investment for enhancing openness.

The 10th 5-Yaer Plan set the investment as a national economic target to serve as a motive and a compass for sustainable development as a means towards increasing growth rates and raising the living standard of society so it provided financial incentives for the various sectors and activities including the private sector.

One of the unique events in the recent years was the establishment of industrial cities in a number of Syrian cities as one of the most important incentives for foreign investments in addition to the entry of a number of investors into the industries that were limited to the public sector; leading to providing the policy of economic pluralism in the industrial sector with new industries that were not existed.

The year 2007 was considered the year of the changes in the industrial sector in terms of number of projects, which amounted to 100 project with a total cost of more than SP 40 billion (USD 880 million) according to the Syrian Economic Center.

The same year witnessed the launch of the industrial development project in cooperation with Italy for the development of 40 companies in the textile sector, including 3 companies of the public sector in addition to what is provided by the project in terms of training experts and local consultants in various technical, economic and financial specializations.

The figures of State Planning Commission's studies indicate that contribution of the agriculture sector to the GDP for the year 2007 reached 23 %, followed by trade sector 18%, then services sector 14%, the extractive energy sector 13%, transport sector 12%, finance, insurance and real estate sector7 %, manufacturing industries 7 %, building and construction 4% and the utilities 2 %.

The successive investment laws have created an attractive climate for local, Arab and foreign investments whose volume reached SP 400 billion as the direct foreign investment increased from $ 600 million in 2006 to $ 750 million in 2007 and doubled more than six times for the same period in the previous years.

The volume of Syrian exports has doubled between 2004 and 2006 from SP 250 billion to more than SP 500 billion while it exceeded SP 600 billion in 2007. The deficit in the commercial balance decreased.

One of the most important economic steps is the transformation of Syria from an importing cars country into a manufacturing one where a joint Syrian-Iranian plant of Sham car manufacturing was opened with a capacity of 15,000 cars per year.

The ongoing economic reforms in Syria in the financial and monetary policies fields and activating role of the private sector in the process of comprehensive economic development reflected positively and significantly improved signs of the economic development during the years 2008 and 2009.

Despite the fact that the Syrian economy is passing in a transition phase accompanied by an impact on some fields, the country was able to maintain the exchange rate of the Syrian pound and the stability in all economic areas and attain high growth signs that showed the policy of economic reform as moving in the right direction despite the fact that such a process requires a long time according to views of economists and experts.

Syria is working to complete the legal, legislative and regulatory framework of the social market economy where regulatory legislations have been issued such as the Investment Law No. 8, setting up the Syrian Investment Agency and Damascus Stock Exchange in addition to laws of maritime trade, companies, competition and the recently-issued law on preventing monopoly.

The 10th and 11th 5-Year Plans aim at increasing the contribution of the industrial sector in the Syrian economy and the GDP, creating job opportunities, increasing productivity and strengthening manufacturing industries structure.

Despite the economic hardships in the year 2008 which had a great impact on the global economies in general, including the Syrian, but it was able, according to official statements, to achieve a growth rate amounted to 6% with the commitment to implementing the 10th 5-Year Plan. Thus the public revenue of the state treasury had increased between 15 and 20% without an increase in fees or new taxes where the public debt did not exceed 35 % of GDP, both internal and external although the climatic conditions which negatively affected the agriculture sector.

Regarding the agricultural sector, it remains the leading sector in the structure of the Syrian economy where it employs third of the work forces and maintains a high level of food sufficiency, so it was given a great attention, exemptions and encouraging financial incentives backed by the law of encouraging investment due to its importance.

What enhances the strength of the Syrian economy is the country's low foreign debts which increased the confidence in directions of the approach which Syria is following despite the challenges it faces such as the demographic challenge which imposes the need to harmonize between the population growth and the economic growth with the aim of meeting and developing the basic needs of citizens and the sustainability of the investment of natural resources for the coming generations. SANA

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