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- GDP (PPP):
- $73.0 billion
- 0.4% growth
- $4,020 per capita
- Inflation (CPI):
- FDI Inflow:
Syria has been devastated by war, with the escalating cost of government compounded by a collapse in oil and tax revenue. Bashar al-Assad’s regime continues to focus on maintaining a high level of spending on the military and public-sector wages. Pursuit of economic development in government-controlled areas has been stymied by the ongoing civil war.
Economic Freedom Snapshot
- 2016 Economic Freedom Score: Not Graded
- Economic Freedom Status: Not Graded
- Global Ranking: Not Ranked
- Regional Ranking: Not Ranked in the Middle East/North Africa Region
- Notable Successes: N/A
- Concerns: N/A
- Overall Score Change Since 2012: N/A
The state has long dominated many areas of economic activity, and the repressive economic environment has marginalized the private sector and prevented sustainable development. State interference has seriously undermined monetary freedom.
The Assad family has ruled Syria since Hafez al-Assad’s military coup in 1970. Bashar al-Assad, who succeeded his father in 2000, has failed to deliver on promises to open the socialist economy and ease political repression. Arab Spring protests in 2011 were met with brutal crackdowns. By 2012, the uprising against Assad had become a sectarian civil war with the predominantly Sunni rebels pitted against the Alawite-dominated regime. By mid-2014, Islamist extremists, including the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda’s franchise, Jabhat al-Nusra, gained dominance within the factionalized rebel movement. Assad’s regime is heavily supported by Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah. The conflict has triggered a severe economic recession, and more than 4 million Syrians have fled the country. Syria’s economy is also hobbled by a large state bureaucracy, falling oil production, rising budget deficits, and inflation.
Even before the armed conflict and ongoing geopolitical chaos, Syria’s government institutions lacked public accountability and were plagued by corruption. Members of the ruling family and their inner circle are said to own and control a major portion of the Syrian economy. Corruption is also present in rebel-held areas, albeit on a smaller scale. The judiciary is neither transparent nor independent.
Ongoing civil conflict has rendered fiscal policy and tax administration, if any, opaque. The overall budgetary situation remains dire in the near absence of a consistent flow of oil and tax revenues. In 2015, despite severe budget shortfalls, the Assad government issued a decree providing for a boost to monthly salaries and pensions for all public-sector employees, exacerbating the already dismal fiscal situation.
Before the ongoing civil unrest, the business environment, lacking transparency and efficiency, had improved only marginally. It remains repressive, burdened by heavy state intervention, and continues to retard entrepreneurial activity and prolong economic stagnation. The labor market suffers from state interference and control. Dramatically increasing political instability has significantly increased the risk of hyperinflation.
Syria has a 14.2 percent average tariff rate. State-owned enterprises are active in the transportation, energy, and telecommunications sectors. The ongoing civil war deters international trade and investment. Political uncertainty and repression have severely weakened the financial system. The central bank has imposed restrictions on the sale of foreign currency by banks to individuals.