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Syria Economy 1996

    • Overview:
      In 1990-93 Syria's state-dominated Ba'thist economy benefited from the Gulf war, increased oil production, good weather, and economic deregulation. Economic growth averaged roughly 10%. The Gulf war provided Syria an aid windfall of nearly $5 billion dollars from Arab, European, and Japanese donors. However, the benefits of the 1990-93 boom were not evenly distributed and the gap between rich and poor is widening. A nationwide financial scandal and increasing inflation were accompanied by a decline in GDP growth to 4% in 1994. For the long run, Syria's economy is still saddled with a large number of poorly performing public sector firms, and industrial productivity remains to be improved. Oil production is likely to fall off dramatically by the end of the decade. Unemployment will become a problem for the government when the more than 60% of the population under the age of 20 enter the labor force.

    • National product:
      GDP - purchasing power parity - $74.4 billion (1994 est.)

    • National product real growth rate:
      4% (1994 est.)

    • National product per capita:
      $5,000 (1994 est.)

    • Inflation rate (consumer prices):
      16.3% (1993 est.)

    • Unemployment rate:
      7.5% (1993 est.)

    • Budget:

    • Exports:
      $3.6 billion (f.o.b., 1994 est.)

        petroleum 53%, textiles 22%, cotton, fruits and vegetables, wheat, barley, chickens

        EC 48%, former CEMA countries 24%, Arab countries 18% (1991)

    • Imports:
      $4 billion (c.i.f., 1994 est.)

        foodstuffs 21%, metal products 17%, machinery 15%

        EC 37%, former CEMA countries 15%, US and Canada 10% (1991)

    • External debt:
      $19.4 billion (1993 est.)

    • Industrial production:
      growth rate NA%

    • Electricity:

        4,160,000 kW

        13.2 billion kWh

        consumption per capita:
        865 kWh (1993)

    • Industries:
      textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining, petroleum

    • Agriculture:
      accounts for 30% of GDP and one-third of labor force; all major crops (wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas) grown mainly on rain-watered land causing wide swings in production; animal products - beef, lamb, eggs, poultry, milk; not self-sufficient in grain or livestock products

    • Illicit drugs:
      a transit country for Lebanese and Turkish refined cocaine going to Europe and heroin and hashish bound for regional and Western markets

    • Economic aid:

        no US aid; about $4.2 billion in loans and grants from Arab and Western donors 1990-92 as a result of Gulf war stance

    • Currency:
      1 Syrian pound (#S) = 100 piastres

    • Exchange rates:
      Syrian pounds (#S) per US$1 - 11.2 (official fixed rate), 26.6 (blended rate used by the UN and diplomatic missions), 42.0 (neighboring country rate - applies to most state enterprise imports), 46.0 - 53.0 (offshore rate) (yearend 1993)

    • Fiscal year:
      calendar year

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