General Info

Syria – General Information

Syria is a lower middle-income economy (per capita income of US$1,570) with a population of 19 million growing at about 2.3 percent per annum and a labor force growing at the rapid rate of about 5 percent per annum. The oil sector provides half of government revenues and about two thirds of export receipts; the agriculture sector contributes about 30 percent of GDP and employment.Syria’s recent economic performance has improved remarkably. The economy expanded by an estimated 6.6 percent in 2007, thus yielding an average growth of above 4 percent per annum since 2003. The private sector has been leading recent growth, propelled in part by reforms in such fields as banking, foreign exchange, insurance, real estate, and trade. The overall investment climate is improving with the help of a new investment law and regulatory/promotional authority. Foreign direct investment has increased from 0.5 percent of GDP in 2001-2 to 3.2 percent of GDP in 2007. The fiscal deficit narrowed to 4.8 percent of GDP in 2007 from 6 percent in 2006.However, medium-term macroeconomic sustainability concerns arise from at least two sources: projected significant declining oil production which threatens external and internal economic balances given the size of oil in the economy; and high and rising energy subsidies, now estimated at 12 percent of GDP. Government is considering increasing fiscal revenues through new sources such as a VAT and reducing expenditures by reducing energy subsidies. These reforms have been, however, delayed by an adverse regional political environment which has made the Government cautious about introducing measures that might lead to social unrest. Also, tensions with the larger international community have set back progress on trade agreements under discussion with the WTO and the European Union.


1. The World Bank.

Syrian Center for Political & Strategic Studies
1718 M Street NW, Suite 116, Washington D.C. 20036-4504, USA.
202-738-1202      E-mail: