A West Asian nation bordering Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel, the Syrian Arab Republic shipped an estimated US$713.8 million worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a -35.9% decrease since 2014 and a -7.7% drop from 2017 to 2018.
Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Syria’s exported goods plus services represent 16.1% of total Syrian economic output or Gross Domestic Product. Please note that the overall value of exported goods and services includes re-exports. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.
Given Syria’s population of 19.5 million people, its total $713.8 million in 2018 exports translates to approximately $40 for every resident in the Middle Eastern country.
Syria’s unemployment rate was 14.9% for 2018 compared to 15.2% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.
Syria’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Syrian global shipments during 2018 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$134.1 million (18.8% of total exports)
- Fruits, nuts: $125.7 million (17.6%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $89.4 million (12.5%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $34.1 million (4.8%)
- Vegetables: $32.1 million (4.5%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $23.6 million (3.3%)
- Cotton: $22.2 million (3.1%)
- Soaps, washing preparations, lubricants, waxes: $20.9 million (2.9%)
- Lead: $19.2 million (2.7%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $18.3 million (2.6%)
Syria’s top 10 exports accounted for almost three-quarters (72.3%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Salt, sulphur, stone and cement represents the fastest-growing among Syria’s top 10 export categories, up by 665.9% year over year since 2017. In second place for improving export sales was lead thanks to its 105.7% gain. Syria’s shipments of animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes posted the third-fastest gain in value via a 43.8% improvement.
The leading decliner among Syria’s top 10 export categories was vegetables which retreated -54.3% year over year.
At the more detailed 4-digit HTS code level, Syria’s most valuable exported products were olive oil; cumin, anise, coriander, or caraway spice seeds; miscellaneous nuts; natural calcium phosphates; fresh apples and pears; unwrought lead; uncombed cotton; miscellaneous organic cleaning preparations; uncombed wool; then apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines and plums.
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$61.1 million (Down by -30.8% since 2017)
- Lead: $19.1 million (Up by 106.5%)
- Wool: $14.1 million (Up by 26.3%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $3.7 million (Down by -20%)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $3.2 million (Up by 120.4%)
- Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $2.6 million (Up by 6.2%)
- Headgear: $1.8 million (Down by -2%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $1.3 million (Down by -23.9%)
- Furskins, artificial fur: $1.1 million (Up by 39%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $811,000 (Reversing a -$6 million 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 a -$6 billion trade deficit during 2018, up 13.2% from -$5.3 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.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -US$931.2 million (Up by 12.8% since 2017)
- Machinery including computers: -$446.7 million (Up by 36.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$378.6 million (Up by 32.7%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: -$347.5 million (Down by -7%)
- Vehicles: -$269.3 million (Down by -15.1%)
- Iron, steel: -$184.9 million (Up by 24.3%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: -$170.2 million (Down by -19.8%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$152.3 million (Down by -12.9%)
- Milling products, malt, starches: -$132.5 million (Up by 43.1%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$131.9 million (Up by 4.9%)
Syria has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the electrical machinery and equipment category, notably electric accumulators and mobile phones.
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)
Syria’s capital city is Damascus.
See also Turkey’s Top Trading Partners, Top 10 Exports from Cyprus and Capital Facts for Damascus, Syria
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on October 8, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on October 8, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on October 8, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on October 8, 2019
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on October 8, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Syria. Accessed on October 8, 2019
Wikipedia, Syria. Accessed on October 8, 2019