From 2019 to 2020, the value of Syria’s exported products accelerated by 12.2%.
The 5 biggest exports from the Syrian Arab Republic are olive oil; cumin seeds, coriander seeds and juniper berries; barley; miscellaneous nuts; and uncarded cotton. Combined, those 5 product categories represent 38% of the value of all Syrian exported goods in 2020.
The latest available country-specific data back in 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 17.5 million people, its total $823 million in 2020 exports translates to approximately $50 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 2020 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$107.3 million (13% of total exports)
- Fruits, nuts: $105.9 million (12.9%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $97 million (11.8%)
- Cereals: $90.6 million (11%)
- Vegetables: $84.8 million (10.3%)
- Cotton: $40.2 million (4.9%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $34.8 million (4.2%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $28.9 million (3.5%)
- Oil seeds: $19.2 million (2.3%)
- Soaps, washing preparations, lubricants, waxes: $16.4 million (2%)
Syria’s top 10 exports accounted for about three-quarters (75.9%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Cereals represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 793.2% from 2019 to 2020. That growth was propelled by Syria’s higher international sales of barley and wheat.
In second place for improving export sales was cotton via a 472.3% gain.
Syria’s shipments of salt, sulphur, stone and cement posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 64%.
The leading decliner among Syria’s top 10 export categories was soaps, washing preparations, lubricants and waxes thanks to a -19.2% drop year over year
At the more detailed 4-digit HTS code level, Syria’s most valuable exported products were olive oil (12.9% of the global total); cumin or coriander seeds and juniper berries (8.3%); barley (7.7%), miscellaneous nuts (5.2%), uncarded cotton (3.9%), fresh or chilled tomatoes (3.6%); natural phosphates (3.3%), wheat (also 3.3%); fresh cherries, plums, peaches, apricots (2.8%); then dried shelled vegetables (2.6%).
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.
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: US$17.7 million (Up by 91.8% since 2019)
- Wool: $12.8 million (Up by 34%)
- Cotton: $12.4 million (Reversing a -$37 million deficit in 2019)
- Fruits, nuts: $8 million (Down by -68.6%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $6.2 million (Up by 143.9%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $4.4 million (Up by 167.7%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $4.2 million (Reversing an -$8.8 million deficit)
- Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $2.9 million (Up by 18.3%)
- Furskins, artificial fur: $2.1 million (Down by -50%)
- Headgear: $1.8 million (Down by -34%)
Syria has positive net exports in the international trade of sugar-preserved vegetables, fruits, nuts, fruit peels and other edible parts of plants. In turn, these cashflows indicate Syria’s strong competitive advantages under the vegetable, fruit and nut preparations category.
Overall Syria incurred an estimated -$3.3 billion trade deficit during 2020, down -40% from -$5.5 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.
- Plastics, plastic articles: -US$224.2 million (Down by -36.6% since 2019)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$201.2 million (Up by 0.5%)
- Machinery including computers: -$199.6 million (Down by -49.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$164.9 million (Down by -70.9%)
- Iron, steel: -$130.5 million (Down by -21.2%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: -$111.7 million (Down by -15.6%)
- Vehicles: -$110 million (Down by -58.4%)
- Milling products, malt, starches: -$93.3 million (Down by -33.4%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$85.6 million (Down by -18%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$81.7 million (Down by -19.8%)
Syria has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the product category for plastics both as a material itself and items made from plastics.
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)
In macroeconomic terms, Syria’s total exported goods represent 5.2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($15.75 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 5.2% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 suggests a relatively small reliance on products sold on international markets for Syria’s total economic performance.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Syria’s average unemployment rate for 2020 was 9%, up from and average 8.2% during 2019 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 September 6, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on September 6, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on September 6, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on September 6, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 6, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Syria. Accessed on September 6, 2021
Wikipedia, Syria. Accessed on September 6, 2021
WorldOMeter, Syria Population. Accessed on September 6, 2021