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S Y R I A
1 - 1. General characteristics:
||Syrian Arab Republic.
||185180 square kilometers.
||16.1 millions inhabitants (1/1/1996).
||87 inhabitants per square kilometer.
||Syria’s climate is characterized by hot, dry summers and fairly cold winters. The summer
and the winter are separated by two short transitional seasons. The coastal region is characterized by heavy rainfall
in winter and a moderate temperature and high relative humidity in summer. The areas in the mountains with an altitude
of 1,000 meters or more characterized by a rainy winter where rainfall may exceed 1,000 mm. Temperatures vary between
-7.7°C in the South of Ein el Arab in December and 43.5°C at Abu Kamal in June.
||January 1st, March 8th, March 21st, April 7th, April 14th, April 17th (Independence
day), May 6th, July 23rd, September 1st, October 6th, December 25th, Eid-ul-Fitr*, Eid-ul-Adha*, Muharram 1st*,
Ashura*, Mouloud* and Ascension of the Prophet Mohammed *.
(*) Variable Dates
|Weekly day off:
||Thursday p.m. - Friday.
||Arabic is the official language. French and English are also spoken.
||Syrian Pound (S£). 1 US$ = 11.23 S£ (End of 1996).
||GMT + 2. (or GMT+3 From April 1st to September 30th)
||Commercial establishments, Saturday - Thursday: From 9.30 a.m. to 14 p.m. and
from 16.30 p.m. 21 p.m.. In summer: Saturday - Thursday : From 9.30 a.m. to 14 p.m. and from 16 p.m. 20 p.m.
Government offices, Saturday - Thursday: From 8.30 a.m. to 14 p.m.
Banks: Saturday - Thursday From 8 a.m. to 14 p.m.
Muslim banks and companies close on Friday and are open on Sunday, while Christian
ones open on Friday and close on Sunday. During Ramadan, Government offices open one hour after the usual opening
1- 3. Legal framework of trade relations:
Syria is member of the following International Organizations:
|World Trade Organization (W.T.O);
|United Nations Organization (U.N.) and its main specialized institutions;
|Organization of the Islamic Conference (O.I.C);
|Arab League States and Arab institution of co-operation.
Syria signed economic and commercial co-operation agreements with Eastern and Western
European countries. The European Union countries, the Middle East and Asian countries and especially with China,
South Korea, India and Kuwait in various sectors.
Syria is signatory to the Arab Common market Agreement and to the Arab Economic
2. TRADE STRUCTURE (1996):
2-1. Main exported products:
|Mineral fuels and lubricants;
|Foodstuffs and live animals;
|Miscellaneous manufactured articles;
|Inedible crude materials except fuels.
2-2 Main imported products:
|Machinery and transport equipment;
|Foodstuffs and live animals;
|Inedible crude materials except fuels.
2- 3.Trading partners:
3.FOREIGN TRADE REGULATIONS:
3-1. Imports regulations:
Imports from Israel and most goods not on the permitted list, with certain exceptions,
are prohibited. In principle, imports must be made directly from the country of origin, without the intervention
of any foreign firm. All imports, except those valued at less than £S2, 000 (£S 500 for imports from
Lebanon) require import licenses before the date of shipment of the goods. In addition, there is a license fee
of 2% on the issue of import licenses, except for those covering Government imports and the imports of certain
essential items, including raw materials, petroleum and petroleum products. Certain imports from Iraq, Jordan,
Lebanon and Saudi Arabia are exempted from licensing in accordance with the Arab Common Market Agreement.
At import level the following documents are required:
|Commercial invoice: Two copies, in English are required. The consulate retains
one copy when the documents are submitted for legalization. The origin of goods must be specified. The invoice
must be notarized and then certified by the appropriate chamber of commerce. Invoices should show both FOB and
CIF values, numbers of packages and kinds, marks and numbers, accurate description of the type of merchandise,
quantity of merchandise and the net and the gross weigh. The invoice must be in the name of the importer in Syria.
All information contained in the invoice must correspond to those appearing in the
bill of lading. Beside the name of the factory, manufacturer or producer, it is also advisable to show on the invoice
the country of the factory, manufacturer or producer.
|Certificate of origin: It is not required unless it is requested by the importer
or the letter of credit, two copies on the general form sold by the printer must be prepared in English. The certification
must indicate the FAS value, it must be notarized and then certified by the appropriate chamber of commerce. The
consulate retains one copy.
|Bill of lading: There are no regulations specifying the form and number of bills
of lading required for any particular shipment. A bill of lading customarily shows the name of the shipper, name
and address of consignee, port of destination, description of goods, listing of freight and other charges, the
number of the bills of lading in the full set, the date and signature of the carrier’s official acknowledging receipt
on board of the goods for shipment.
Bills of lading must be sent via the Syrian Banks, in the name of the importer,
to the order of the importer, or to the order of said bank or exporter’s agent in Syria or forwarder or customs
broker in Syria. In all cases the bill of lading must specify that the goods were shipped directly to Syria.
The airway bill replaces the bill of lading on air cargo shipments.
|Pro forma invoice: a pro forma invoice must accompany applications for import
The legalization of the certificate of origin and other document not specifying
any value, of a contract agreement, or other commercial documents other than invoices is 10 dollar. The legalization
of a copy of the commercial invoice varies according to the value: the tax ranges between 5 to 606 US dollars for
amounts lower than 150,000 US dollars.
If the value of the shipment, exclusive of consulate fee, is more than 150,200 US
dollars, the fee must be obtained using the following formula: (V-200)*(0.004)+7.
V: is the value of the shipped goods.
The legalization value is revised periodically as a result of exchange rate fluctuations.
In compliance with the Export regulations, the following documents must be produced:
|Free sale certificate: The exports of pharmaceuticals require a free sale certificate
stating that the commodities in question are in free circulation in the country of Export. This certificate must
be legalized by the consulate, and when presented by the importer in Syria, five copies of the commercial invoice
certified by the importer must accompany it. Drugs with a limited period of usefulness require separate invoices
and import licenses. The period of usefulness must be stated on the invoice.
|Sanitary certificates issued by local Department of Health are acceptable for
A certificate of free sale may be required for foodstuffs.
|Radiation certificate: Some plants and animal imports may require a statement
that the products are not contaminated by radioactivity.
|Sanitary certificate: Animal and plant products imports require sanitary certificates.
3 -3. Other formalities and documents:
Samples of no commercial value are also imported duty-free.
|Labeling: Wholly manufactured goods imported into Syria must be labeled in Arabic,
giving the name of the manufacturer and the country of the manufacture. The label must be placed on the goods themselves
or on the outer packaging. Arabic labels must be placed on packages sold to the public.
|Marking: There are no special regulations. Packages must necessarily bear the
mark of the consignee, including port marking and must be numbered.
|Packing: There are no special packing considerations that affect the import
of goods into Syria
4. FINANCIAL REGULATIONS OF FOREIGN TRADE OPERATIONS:
As to December 31, 1995, the banking system of Syria was made up of the following
banks: Agricultural Co-operative Banks (104), Commercial Banks of Syria (51), Industrial Banks (17), Popular Credit
Banks (54), and Real Estate Banks (14). The Central Bank is called the Central Bank of Syria (14 branches).
4-2.Foreign exchange system:
Since 1986 stringent restrictions on illegal currency transactions have forced the
black market to disappear. Syrian currency cannot generally be reconverted to hard currency. Hard currency can
be exchanged for local currency in one of the branches of the commercial Bank. Credit cards such as American Express,
Diners Club are also accepted and some hotels accept Access/MasterCard. Traveler's’ checks are not always accepted
at Damascus airport.
Monetary restrictions: the import of local currency is unlimited while its
Export is forbidden although amounts exceeding 5,000 US dollars must be declared upon arrival. The Export of foreign
currency is limited to 5,000 US dollars or up to the amount declared on arrival.
4-3.Methods and means for international settlement:
All foreign exchange transactions are carried out through The Central Bank. Only
the Central Bank and the Commercial Bank of Syria may carry out foreign exchange operations, and only the Commercial
Bank of Syria is authorized to open letters of credit and to accept bills for collection without prior approval,
provided that certain conditions are fulfilled.
Usually, the Bank requires the importer to cover 100% of the transaction.
Payments for imports by the Government are carried out at the official market rate.
In principle, private sector importers are authorized to import products specified on the permitted list by opening
letters of credit at the Commercial Bank of Syria. Since the foreign exchange is not available to the importers
of the private sector, credit arrangements such as 180-day supplier’s credit and third party financing are used.
The Syria follows the Customs Co-operation Council Nomenclature System of customs
5-1.Applicable duties and taxes:
|Customs duties: Imports of foodstuffs and certain agricultural and industrial
goods are exempted from import duties. Most duties are assessed on an ad valorem basis.
|Specific Duties are levied on the net weight.
|Preferential duties: There are preferential duties between Syria and the Arab
Countries signatory to the Arab Common Market Agreement. As a matter of fact the admission tax of industrial products
originating from member countries is reduced by 25%.
|Customs surcharges and indirect taxes: a unified import surcharges has replaced
all previous import levies (statistical tax, consumption tax, defense tax, school tax, maritime transport tax,
and port tax).
Basic commodities such as green coffee, tobacco salt, wheat and certain agricultural
machinery are imported by state trading agencies or other official agencies. As a matter of fact, raw materials
and equipment that promote industrial and agricultural development tend to receive favorable consideration than
luxury goods imports.
6. FOREIGN TRADE LOGISTIC:
6-1. International transports:
|Maritime transports: The main ports are located in Lattakia, Tartus and Banyas.
The nearest car ferry sails to Bodrum in western Turkey.
|Air transports: Syria’s national airline is Syrian Arab Airlines (RB). The international
airport is located in Damascus (DAM) 30 km southeast of the city, Aleppo (ALP) (Nejrab) 10km from the city and
Lattakia airport is located 25 km from the city. Although there are no scheduled flights serving this airport,
but some charters are operational.
* Railways: Links go via Istanbul, Ankara and Aleppo from which passengers take
the Taurus Express. The connection from Damascus to Amman has been suspended since 1983. The length of the railway
is 3,735 km of which 1,785 are of standard gauge and 2,150 km of narrow gauge.
* Road networks: The principal international routes are from Istanbul, the E5 road
to Ankara, Adana and Iskeuderun in Turkey. The road to Aleppo goes through Bab- Al –hawa and to Lattakia through
Kassab. From the south the best roads are from Aqaba on the Red Sea in Jordan.
Bus services are available, across the desert on routes from Baghdad via Damascus
and Amman to Damascus.
In 1995,the road network was made up of 2,237 km of leveled roads, 9,327 km of paved
roads and 27,769 km of asphalted roads. In 1996, the road network reached 30,208 km.
There are internal lines of the Syrian Company in Aleppo, Palmyra, Deir EZ- Zor,
Qamishly and Lattakia.
In 1995, Syria was provided with 650 post centers, 126 telegraph centers, 4450 of
telephone centers, 7,000 faxes, 984,196 telephone lines of which 69,529 are manual and 914,667 automatic lines.
6-3. Distribution system:
Only Syrian nationals may represent foreign companies in Syria. Agent-principal
relationships must be registered in the Directorate of foreign companies register in the Ministry of Economy and
Foreign Trade. These include agent and distributor contracts and other documents designating representatives of
7. USEFUL ADDRESS:
ORGANIZATIONS AND PUBLIC ESTABLISHMENTS
|Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade
||Salhieh Ma’mun Bitar Street Damascus
||Tel : (96311)2221970
Telex: 411982 economy sy
Fax : (96311) 2225695
|Foreign Trade Center. Trade Information Service.
||65, Baghdad Street P.O.Box. 2480 Damascus
||Tel : (96311)4427265
Fax : (96311)4427282
|Federation of Syrian Chamber of Commerce.
||Moussa Ben Noussair Street P.O.Box. 5909 Damascus.
||Tel : (96311)3337344
Telex :411194 gouraf sy
Fax : (96311)3331127
|Central Bank of Syria
||29 Ayar Sq Damascus
||Tel : (96311)224800
Telex : 11007
Fax : (96311)1956