Syria suffers unprecedented fall in foreign trade
DAMASCUS - Syria suffered in 2012 an unprecedented decline in foreign trade, with exports falling by nearly 100 percent from a year earlier, according to an official study published in a newspaper on Sunday.
The study, published in pro-regime daily Al-Watan, showed "the dramatic impact caused by the current crisis" on foreign trade.
The value of Syria's exports registered in the year 2012 dropped to a mere $185 million, a decline of 97.4 percent on the $7.21 billion registered in 2011. In 2010 exports were valued at $11.35 billion.
The study attributed the massive fall-off to "the large-scale destruction of the country's infrastructure and industrial supplies, causing many enterprises to stop functioning".
Imports also suffered an unprecedented sharp decline of 78.4 percent in 2012, dropping to a value of just $3.58 billion from $16.57 billion a year earlier.
The study blamed "the important role" played by international sanctions for the decline in foreign trade, which had pumped up the trade deficit and weakened the national currency.
Other factors cited by Al-Watan that contributed to the drop were the fact that international sanctions had been slapped on an array of government officials, making it impossible for many countries to do business with Syria.
The European Union and the United States have imposed sanctions targeting government officials besides imposing an embargo on trade in arms, an oil exports embargo and a ban on banking transactions to punish the Syrian regime's crackdown on a revolt that broke out in March 2011.
The Arab League also imposed a round of sanctions on Damascus, which froze trade transactions with the regime and exports into Arab countries.
These sanctions also banned Syrian officials from travelling in the region, and prohibited the country's airliner from operating flights to and from member countries.
Syria is meanwhile suffering a food and oil crisis, and the UN has regularly denounced difficulties in providing aid to the country's population, particularly in areas most affected by violence.