A West Asian nation bordering Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel, the Syrian Arab Republic shipped an estimated US$462.2 million worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a -46% decrease since 2015 and a -36.2% drop from 2018 to 2019.
The latest available country-specific data from 2010 shows that 81.1% of products exported from Syria were bought by importers in: Iraq (20.2% of the global total), Italy (13.4%), Germany (13%), Turkey (5.5%), Saudi Arabia (4.8%), France (4.3%), Lebanon (3.8%), Jordan (3.6%), United States (3.5%), Netherlands (also 3.5%), Egypt (3.4%) and Spain (2.1%).
Given Syria’s population of 17.1 million people, its total $462.2 million in 2019 exports translates to approximately $30 for every resident in the Middle Eastern country.
Syria’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Syrian global shipments during 2019 at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Syria.
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: US$92.5 million (20% of total exports)
- Fruits, nuts: $83.5 million (18.1%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $73.9 million (16%)
- Vegetables: $42.8 million (9.3%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $18.4 million (4%)
- Oil seeds: $13.1 million (2.8%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $12.1 million (2.6%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $11 million (2.4%)
- Wool: $10.7 million (2.3%)
- Cereals: $10.1 million (2.2%)
Syria’s top 10 exports accounted for almost four-fifths (79.6%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Cereals posted the strongest increase in revenues for Syria from 2018 to 2019 thanks to a 126,425% gain propelled by higher global sales of barley.
The only other improving product category for top Syrian exports was vegetables (up 31.7%) supported by stronger international sales of fresh or chilled tomatoes.
The leading decliners among Syria’s top 10 export categories were salt, sulphur, stone and cement (down -65.3%), wool (down -39.3%) then fruits and nuts (down -33.9%).
At the more detailed 6-digit HTS code level, Syria’s most valuable exported products include virgin olive oil (19.6% of its global total), cumin seeds (5.3%), fresh apples (5%); fresh or chilled tomatoes (4.4%), shelled pistachios (3.5%), coriander seeds (3.1%); natural calcium phosphates (2.5%); juniper berries and caraway or fennel seeds (also 2.5%), barley (2.2%), spices excluding peppers (also 2.2%), and fresh or dried figs (2.1%) according to the International Trade Centre.
The following types of Syrian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Fruits, nuts: US$42.3 million (Down by -31.1% since 2018)
- Wool: $8.9 million (Down by -37.2%)
- Furskins, artificial fur: $4.3 million (Up by 275.6%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $3.7 million (Down by -2%)
- Headgear: $2.4 million (Up by 23.8%)
- Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $2.3 million (Down by -12.9%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $879,000 (Down by -60.7%)
- Ships, boats: $214,000 (Reversing a -$553,000 deficit)
Syria has positive net exports in the international trade of pistachios, almonds, walnuts, apples, pears, strawberries, oranges, figs and avocados. In turn, these cashflows indicate Syria’s strong competitive advantages under the fruits and nuts category.
Overall Syria incurred an estimated -$4.1 billion trade deficit during 2019, down -31.8% from -$6 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Syria that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Syria’s goods trail Syrian importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: US-$346.7 million (Down by -22.4% since 2018)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$275 million (Down by -69.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$239 million (Down by -36.7%)
- Vehicles: -$238.9 million (Down by -10.3%)
- Milling products, malt, starches: -$126.1 million (Down by -4.8%)
- Cereals: -$115.2 million (Down by -3%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: -$111.5 million (Down by -34.7%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: -$106 million (Up by 5.5%)
- Paper, paper items: -$100.2 million (Down by -9.5%)
- Iron, steel: -$95.3 million (Down by -48.4%)
Syria has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the electrical machinery including computers product category.
Syrian Export Companies
Not one Syrian corporation ranks among the Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists exports-related companies from Syria. Selected examples are shown below.
- Bank of Syria and Overseas (international bank)
- Château Bargylus (wine)
- Chemins de Fer Syriens (industrial transportation)
- Hmisho Trading Group (heavy metals, vehicles)
- Syrian Petroleum Company (oil, gas)
One key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Syria’s average unemployment rate was 8.4% for 2019, up from 8.3% one year earlier according to Trading Economics.
Syria’s capital city is Damascus.
See also Turkey’s Top Trading Partners, Top 10 Exports from Cyprus and Capital Facts for Damascus, Syria
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on July 29, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on July 29, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 29, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 29, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 29, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Syria. Accessed on July 29, 2020
Wikipedia, Syria. Accessed on July 29, 2020
WorldOMeter, Syria Population. Accessed on July 29, 2020