The Syrian government is negotiating to extend the contract it has with French shipping giant CMA CGM over the management of the port of Lattakia’s container terminal. The Ministry of Transport has established a committee to negotiate with the French company but that does not necessarily mean that the contract with LICT will be eventually extended.
On the eve of the Syrian conflict, half a dozen Western oil companies were active in Syria. Among these, Royal Dutch Shell and Total E&P, were the major players. However, the country’s descent into chaos and the subsequent imposition of Western sanctions on the oil sector led to the freezing of their activities. By the end of 2012, all Western companies had suspended their operations in Syria, declaring force majeure and freezing their assets.
Syria recorded an annual inflation rate of 84.9 percent in 2022, compared to an average of 5.1 percent in the rest of Arab countries and 8.5 percent recorded globally, according to the Annual Bulletin of the Syrian Centre for Policy Research, published on October 12. The hike in prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages contributed to 41.3 percent of last year’s general inflation, followed by the housing, water, electricity and gas category, then transportation and health.
The UN Humanitarian Air Service has been temporarily halted in Syria after several Israeli airstrikes left Damascus and Aleppo airports out of service.
Syria and Russia have signed an agreement to strengthen economic cooperation and bolster joint investments. On October 28 and 29, the Joint Syrian-Russian Intergovernmental Committee for Scientific, Technical, Commercial, and Economic Cooperation met in Moscow to ink the deal focusing on infrastructure development (including transportation and public works) and the agricultural, industrial, and pharmaceutical sectors.
On October 18, the EU General Court issued six decisions ordering the Syrian government to repay 2017-2022 instalment dues for overdue loans totalling EUR 73 million and CHF 1.98 million.
The Israeli retaliation after the Hamas’ attack on October 7 has led to violent echoes in the region: from deadly flare-ups in the Lebanese-Israeli border, exchange of fire in southern Syria, Israel’s airstrikes at Damascus and Aleppo airports, to U.S. bases in Syria and Iraq targeted in drone attacks by Iranian affiliated groups. The announced Israeli ground invasion of Gaza could be an important turning point with regards to regional escalation as Iran and Hezbollah made the potential invasion their main red line.
In an apparent step towards global reintegration, a Syrian delegation made a rare appearance at the annual meeting of the WB and the IMF.
Efforts to resurrect the Kirkuk-Banias oil pipeline have recently gained momentum. However, financial constraints and political and security instability continue to deter the project's implementation.
Damascus International Airport has resumed flights after being hit by an Israeli airstrike on October 12, while the Aleppo International Airport remains - at the moment of publishing - out of service after coming under Israeli fire twice, on October 12 and October 14. It appears flights in Aleppo airport will resume Wednesday 18, since two flights to Erbil and Sharjah are scheduled that day, according to Flightradar24.
The ongoing Turkish retaliatory attacks in northeast Syria have severely affected oil, water, electricity, education, and health infrastructure.
Five months after Syria’s reinstatement in the Arab League, normalisation with Bashar Al-Assad seems to have yielded few Damascus concessions: captagon trade is surging, there is no sign of steps towards stabilisation, political reforms, or refugee return.
President Bashar Al-Assad’s handshake with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on September 22 marks a significant step in Syria’s reintegration into the global diplomatic sphere. Despite much fanfare, however, it is unlikely that promises by China's foreign minister Wang Yi’s “to take ties to a new level” will materialise into investments in Syria’s cash-strapped economy, given the recent decrease in China’s footprint in the country and Syria’s distressed business environment.
A decision by the Syrian government to shift phosphate exports handled by the Port of Lattakia to the port of Tartous has highlighted tensions between the foreign private operators of these ports and the government. Syria holds the fourth or fifth largest rock phosphate reserves worldwide.
In the first eight months of 2023, Syria’s non-oil foreign trade reached USD 2.681 billion, including imports of USD 2.161 billion, according to a statement by Prime Minister Hussein Arnous before the Parliament on September 17.
Amid rising food insecurity levels and wheat shortages, the Syrian government has recently contracted with Russian suppliers for the import of 1.4 million tonnes of soft wheat, which is used to produce bread. The wheat harvest across the country has improved this year but still falls short of the local demand.
A month after the U.N. and the Syrian government reached a bilateral agreement to replace the defunct U.N. Security Council mandated cross border mechanism, aid flow into northwest Syria has slowed to a trickle.
The Syrian government recently inaugurated a new gas well in Palmyra that will help narrow the gap between supply and demand. It is the second such gas well to start production in recent months. Meanwhile, the government has contracted an otherwise little known company to invest in various oil and gas fields in Palmyra and around Deir-ez-Zor.
The chronic underfunding of Syria’s humanitarian operation has taken a darker turn this summer with cuts affecting 2.5 million people in Syria, and dozens of thousands in Jordan and Iraq.
Protests against the Syrian regime, which are reminiscent of the 2011 uprising, shed light on the government’s continuous failure to fulfil decade-long demands.