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Syria Economy

    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—$41.7 billion (1998 est.)

    GDP—real growth rate: 2% (1998 est.)

    GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$2,500 (1998 est.)

    GDP—composition by sector:
    agriculture: 26%
    industry: 21%
    services: 53% (1997)

    Population below poverty line: 15%-25%

    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
    lowest 10%: NA%
    highest 10%: NA%

    Inflation rate (consumer prices): 15%-20% (1997 est.)

    Labor force: 4.7 million (1998 est.)

    Labor force—by occupation: services 40%, agriculture 40%, industry 20% (1996 est.)

    Unemployment rate: 12%-15% (1998 est.)

    revenues: $3.5 billion
    expenditures: $4.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1997 est.)

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

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

    Electricity—production: 19.3 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—production by source:
    fossil fuel: 63.73%
    hydro: 36.27%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0% (1996)

    Electricity—consumption: 19.3 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—exports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Electricity—imports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Agriculture—products: wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas, olives, sugar beets; beef, mutton, eggs, poultry, milk

    Exports: $4.2 billion (f.o.b., 1998 est.)

    Exports—commodities: petroleum 65%, textiles 16%, food and live animals 13%, manufactures 6% (1997 est.)

    Exports—partners: Italy 18%, Germany 13%, France 12%, Turkey 10%, Lebanon 7%, Spain 6% (1997 est.)

    Imports: $5.7 billion (c.i.f., 1997)

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

    Imports—partners: Ukraine 14%, Italy 7%, Germany 6%, Turkey 5%, France 4%, South Korea 4%, Japan 4%, US 3% (1997 est.)

    Debt—external: $22 billion (1998 est.)

    Economic aid—recipient: $327.3 million (1995)

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

    Exchange rates: Syrian pounds (�S) per US$1—46 (1998), 41.9 (January 1997); official fixed rate 11.225

    Fiscal year: calendar year

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)