Syria/Economy

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Economy - overview: Syria's predominantly statist economy is on a shaky footing because of Damascus's failure to implement extensive economic reform. The dominant agricultural sector remains underdeveloped, with roughly 80% of agricultural land still dependent on rain-fed sources. Although Syria has sufficient water supplies in the aggregate at normal levels of precipitation, the great distance between major water supplies and population centers poses serious distribution problems. The water problem is exacerbated by rapid population growth, industrial expansion, and increased water pollution. Private investment is critical to the modernization of the agricultural, energy, and export sectors. Oil production is leveling off, and the efforts of the nonoil sector to penetrate international markets have fallen short. Syria's inadequate infrastructure, outmoded technological base, and weak educational system make it vulnerable to future shocks and hamper competition with neighbors such as Jordan and Israel.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $50.9 billion (2000 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 0% (1999 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $2,500 (1999 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 29%
industry: 22%
services: 49% (1997)

Population below poverty line: 15%-25%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.3% (1999 est.)

Labor force: 4.7 million (1998 est.)

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 40%, industry 20%, services 40% (1996 est.)

Unemployment rate: 12%-15% (1998 est.)

Budget:
revenues: $3.5 billion
expenditures: $4.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1997 est.)

Industries: petroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining

Industrial production growth rate: 0.2% (1996 est.)

Electricity - production: 17.5 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 42.86%
hydro: 57.14%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (1998)

Electricity - consumption: 16.275 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1998)

Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1998)

Agriculture - products: wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas, olives, sugar beets; beef, mutton, eggs, poultry, milk

Exports: $3.3 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.)

Exports - commodities: petroleum 65%, textiles 10%, manufactured goods 10%, fruits and vegetables 7%, raw cotton 5%, live sheep 2%, phosphates 1% (1998 est.)

Exports - partners: Germany 14%, Turkey 13%, Italy 12%, France 9%, Lebanon 9%, Spain (1998 est.)

Imports: $3.2 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.)

Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment 23%, foodstuffs/animals 20%, metal and metal products 15%, textiles 10%, chemicals 10% (1998 est.)

Imports - partners: Ukraine 16%, Italy 6%, Germany 6%, Turkey 5%, France 4%, South Korea, Japan, US (1998 est.)

Debt - external: $22 billion (1999 est.)

Economic aid - recipient: $199 million (1997 est.)

Currency: 1 Syrian pound = 100 piastres

Exchange rates: Syrian pounds per US$1 - 46 (1998), 41.9 (January 1997); official fixed rate - 11.225 Syrian pounds per US$1

Fiscal year: calendar year