Iran News

Syrian insurance premiums increased by 80 percent last year, partly due to contracts with companies affiliated with the government and Khodr Ali Taher, one of Syria’s leading war profiteers, and to the growing stake of private-sector insurers in the sector, according to the Syrian Insurance Supervisory Commission.
The Ministry of Industry has decided to establish a Tartous Chamber of Industry, which would entail splitting the Tartous Chamber of Commerce and Industry into two. Tartous would become the fifth Syrian governorate to have separate chambers for commerce and industry.
A Russian oil company, which has been linked to a sanctioned Russian oligarch, has recently opened an office in Damascus. The company has been embroiled in Lebanese-Syrian maritime disputes after the government granted it exclusive rights to explore and drill for oil and gas in a block in the Mediterranean sea that apparently overlaps with Lebanese maritime areas.
Iran’s crude oil exports to Syria have remained stable for the first quarter of the year compared with the last quarter of 2021, according to an independent online service that tracks global shipments of crude oil, especially those of Iranian origin. However, government officials have indicated that Syria has received a larger amount than what was reported.
Last week, the government raised the prices of pharmaceutical drugs produced by the public sector after authorising the private sector to increase its prices in February.
In his first visit to a country that is neither Russia nor Iran since the outbreak of the conflict in 2011, Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad travelled to the United Arab of Emirates last week to meet with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince. Although Syrian businessmen are optimistic about the economic prospects that may follow such a visit, western sanctions, among them the Caesar Act, will likely continue to deter and complicate investments in the country.
Following the harsh US, EU, and non-EU sanctions on Russia, Damascus appears to be bracing itself for what may be the most severe shortages in food and oil commodities the country has witnessed in decades. On February 24, the first day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Syrian cabinet held an emergency session to draft a plan to mitigate the conflict’s potential consequences on Syria, namely increases in the prices of wheat, oil, and international shipping rates, and supply chain disruptions.
Although Iranian goods are banned by the Syrian Salvation Government, the political arm of Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, and the Turkish-backed Syrian Interim Government, they are nonetheless largely available in markets in northern and northeastern Syria due to their low prices. Though several social media campaigns have called for the boycott of Iranian goods on political grounds, financial difficulties appear to trump all other concerns as demand remains high.
Although international negotiations remain ongoing in hopes of avoiding a Russian-Ukrainian confrontation, Syria may not be spared of the potential consequences of a larger conflict, including the disruption of trade in the Black Sea basin, halting or reducing Syria’s trade with both Ukraine and Russia and leading to a global rise in food and oil prices that would also impact the Syrian economy. The overall fallout on the Syrian economy should be relatively limited though.
Iran’s non-oil trade with Syria in the first 9 months of the Iranian calendar year (March-December 2021) increased by 85 percent compared with the same period in 2020, according to Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture. Trade between the two countries is likely to be higher than the reported figures if oil exports to Syria were included, as well as Iranian trade through the United Arab Emirates.