Syria slaps ban on imports except raw materials

September 24, 2011 20:56

Syria banned most imports except raw materials and grains, local businessmen said on Saturday in a move to preserve foreign currency reserves under pressure from Western sanctions and ongoing political unrest.

The government decreed on Thursday that all imports that carry a tariff that exceeds five percent are banned, meaning that most foreign goods are affected, from electrical goods to cars and luxury items, businessmen and traders in Damascus contacted by Reuters said.

Minister of Economy and Trade Mohammad Nidal al-Shaar was quoted in the local press as saying the abrupt move in a country that imports billions of dollars of consumer items annually was "preventive and temporary".

It was aimed at "preserving the country's foreign reserves and redirecting (them) to the low income brackets of the population."

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