Syria's Macroeconomic Statistics

The central economy of Syria is very corrupt and inefficient, and it has very low rates of foreign investment. In 2008, the IMF predicted that the gross domestic product (GDP) of Syria would only grow by 3.9%, as compared to 6% the previous year. For years, the key sectors in Syrian business were oil and agriculture; those two sectors accounted for about half of the GDP. Agriculture alone employs one-quarter of the country's labor force. However, the sector has been negatively impacted by poor climate and drought, and higher crude oil prices and decreased output have led to the need for more imported petroleum products.

The government of Syria hopes that it can increase the macroeconomic stability of the country by attracting investors to its natural gas, service and tourism sectors, thereby reducing its reliance on agriculture and oil. Syria has been slow to implement economic reform and its markets have been slow to open, but progress is being made. For religious reasons, the privatization of government-run businesses isn't common, but in the transport, power generation and ports sectors, privatization is in its preliminary stages.

The government controls (through subsidies) the prices of certain staples, like bread, and human/social services are provided for very low cost. These subsidies are becoming harder to keep up, as the consumption/production gap continues to widen. The population of Syria is right around 21 million, and the government estimates population growth at 2.37% per year. 65% of Syrians are under 35, and almost 200,000 Syrians enter the work force each year. In 2009, unemployment was unofficially pegged at 20%, and the government acknowledges that their economy isn't growing fast enough to create enough jobs for the growing population.

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