Economy in Syria

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Economy—overview: Syria's predominantly statist economy is on a shaky footing because of Damascus's failure to implement extensive economic reform. The dominant agricultural sector remains underdeveloped with roughly 80% of agricultural land still dependent on rain-fed sources. Although Syria has sufficient water supplies in the aggregate at normal levels of precipitation the great distance between major water supplies and population centers poses serious distribution problems. The water problem is exacerbated by rapid population growth industrial expansion and increased water pollution. Private investment is critical to the modernization of the agricultural energy and export sectors. Oil production is leveling off and the efforts of the nonoil sector to penetrate international markets have fallen short. Syria's inadequate infrastructure outmoded technological base and weak educational system make it vulnerable to future shocks and hamper competition with neighbors such as Jordan and Israel.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$106.1 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 4.6% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$6 600 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:

agriculture: 28%

industry: 14%

services: 58% (1995)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 15%-20% (1997 est.)

Labor force:

total: 4.7 million (1995 est.)

by occupation: services 40% agriculture 40% industry 20% (1996 est.)

Unemployment rate: 12% (1997 est.)


revenues: $3.9 billion

expenditures: $4.3 billion including capital expenditures of $1.9 billion (1996 est.)

Industries: petroleum textiles food processing beverages tobacco phosphate rock mining

Industrial production growth rate: 0.2% (1996 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 4.157 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 14.9 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 970 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: wheat barley cotton lentils chickpeas; beef lamb eggs poultry milk


total value: $4.2 billion (f.o.b. 1997)

commodities: petroleum 70% textiles 12% food and live animals 10% manufactures 5% (1997 est.)

partners: EU 57% (Germany 17% Italy 16% France 11%) Lebanon 14% Saudi Arabia 7% (1995 est.)


total value: $5.7 billion (c.i.f. 1997)

commodities: machinery and equipment 40% foodstuffs/animals 15% metal and metal products 15% textiles 10% chemicals 10% consumer goods 5% (1997 est.)

partners: EU 33% (Italy 9% Germany 8% France 4%) South Korea 5% US 4% Japan 4% (1995 est.)

Debt—external: $20 billion (1997 est.)

Economic aid:

recipient: $4.2 billion (1990-92)

Currency: 1 Syrian pound (£S) = 100 piastres

Exchange rates: Syrian pounds (£S) per US$1—41.9 (January 1997); official fixed rate 11.225

Fiscal year: calendar year

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