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Syria slashes imports to save dwindling foreign reserves

Syrian women sit on a bench as they eat with a young boy in the city of Damascus on March 4, 2015Syria’s government, presiding over an economy ravaged by war and facing dwindling foreign currency reserves, is taking new measures to slash imports and prop up exports. Importers require government licences that allow them to request a favourable exchange rate at the Syrian central bank. “A month ago, I got a text message from the economy finance ministry telling me that because of the shrinking foreign currency reserves, I would no longer get the preferential dollar rate at the central bank,” one importer of consumer goods told AFP. An official at Syria’s economy ministry, quoted by the Al-Watan daily, said two-thirds of import licences granted in the last quarter of 2014 went to industries considered essential, including fuel, agriculture and pharmaceuticals.

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