The Syrian Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade Dr. Samer Al-Khalil: Syria will overcome the current economic crisis and sanctions

 The Syrian Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade Dr. Samer Al-Khalil has put an end to the rumors about the collapse of the national economy.

“Our economy is still immune and strong despite the challenges it faces that are known to everyone, the last of which is the Corona pandemic that cut the goods supplies by closing the land, sea and air borders, thus causing a total stoppage of some sectors such as tourism, and a partial one in sectors such as industry and trade,” Dr. Samer Khalil said , during the Arab Writers Union’s Damascus branch’s first session titled ‘Syrian Economic Realities and Governmental Actions’ on July 15.


Dr. Samer Al-Khalil said that the reasons for the deterioration of the living situation in Syria is ascribed to corruption and the citizen’s lack of confidence in the government, in addition to the external pressures represented by Caesar's Act. The recent Lebanese crisis negatively affected the Syrian businessmen and traders who deposited their money in the Lebanese banks at an interest rate of 13%, despite warning them in advance of this.

Dr. Samer Al-Khalil underscored the sufferings of the national economy as a result of the attempts to empty the country of foreign currencies through depending on the exchange rate of the Syrian pound on suspicious external websites. He referred to what is happening in northern Syrian- the severe speculation of the exchange rate. Our economy is also affected by the poor economic conditions in neighboring countries of Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.

Dr. Samer Al-Khalil said that the Central Bank of Syria (CBS) is conducting a study to put an end to this speculation of national currency.

Dr. Samer Al-Khalil did not ignore the catastrophic economic opening up to Turkey during the pre-crisis years and its repercussions on the Syrian economy, especially in terms of its negative effects on the closure of many industrial sectors such the industry of wooden furniture, which closed dozens of furniture workshops in and around Damascus. 

Dr. Samer Al-Khalil said that the government is working to activate the trade exchange and has already begun with Iran, while China remains cautious in this aspect. He pointed to the investment draft law and considered it one of the best investment laws in the world.

Dr. Samer Al-Khalil said that the government is working to take measures to improve the living situation, including opening popular markets to cancel the role of the commercial mediator between the farmer and the consumer.

“During the 9-year of wartime, Syria did not import any agricultural materials except three times, one time to import wheat and two times to import potatoes. Syria’s production of wheat is sufficient but the so-called Qasd (the US -back Syrian Democratic Forces) prevent farmers from delivering their crops to the Syrian government,” Dr. Samer Al-Khalil said during the 4-hour session which was attended by Syria Times e-newspaper.

Dr. Samer Al-Khalil stressed that the main way to face the difficult economic conditions is manifested in the activation of agriculture and industry without denying the role of the government in providing production requirements and reducing its costs by activating legislation related to exemptions from customs, duties and others.

With regard to the pharmaceutical sector, Dr. Samer Al-Khalil said that Syria is suffering from a lack of some raw materials in parallel with a rise in prices, indicating that the General Foreign Trade Corporation imports medicine and pharmaceutical products for hospitals of the Ministries of Health, Higher Education, Interior and Defense at a value of 400 billion Syrian pounds annually , in addition to importing children’s vaccines, and distributes them freely.

Dr. Samer Al-Khalil said that that the feed and poultry sector suffers from the small number of investors, pointing out that the feed depends on the yellow corn, which needs dryers that are not available now, highlighting the efforts exerted to activate two dryers plants to secure the feed to more than 12500 poultries.

Dr. Samer Al-Khalil referred to the principle of rationalization of foreign trade by reducing imports to minimum level and increasing exports, especially agricultural and manufacturing industries, as well as allowingmany suppliers to import one material in order to activate competition in the Syrian markets.

Dr. Samer Al-Khalil made a review of the indicators of the Syrian economy during the pre-war years, 2005- 2011, whereas the national economy witnessed a 5% growth rates. The industry and agriculture sectors witnessed a remarkable improvement to the point that oil was no longer the primary source of revenue- this was achieved in light of the stability in the exchange rate that extended until the beginning of the crisis.

Dr. Samer Al-Khalil said that during the years of the war 2011- 2016, the national productive and service establishments were subjected to sabotage, destruction and looting. The Western sanctions came to constrict the country in its attempt to secure the needs of its people. The governmental organization and institutions were able to withstand and continue to perform their functions and tasks, in spite of damaging and shortage of capabilities.

“2017 and 2018 were the best years of the war, as the liberated areas from terrorists expanded and many industrial establishments returned to work and production, and indeed it can be said that manufacturing industries were the most developed in the last three years (2017-2018-2019),” Dr. Samer Al-Khalil said.

Dr. Samer Al-Khalil added that the year 2019and 2020 witnessed big pressures on the Syrian government and national currency which caused an increase in prices. The government continues to secure the needs of citizens which today cost the state’s treasury more than the past due to exchange rate and the additional costs imposed by sanctions.

Regarding the Caesar's Act, Dr. Samer Al-Khalil said it covers all sectors including the import of food and medicine which are subjected to banking institutions, money transfers, insurance and shipping penalties that cause additional costs ranging from 40 to 50%.

Dr. Samer Al-Khalil optimistically concluded his speech that the current economic crisis will pass  during a not long period. This optimism is reflected in the efforts of all the Syrian concerned authorities and institutions and the support of friendly countries to Syria.


Reported by: Obaida Hamad / Inas Abdulkareem

Photos by: Obaida Hamad.