Syria's Main Business Sectors
The country of Syria has a developing economy, based primarily on the oil, industrial, agricultural, and tourism sectors. However, the country's economy faces serious challenges to its continuing growth, including a decline in oil production, a widening budget deficit, corruption, a weak public sector, and high unemployment due to a burgeoning population.
Another roadblock to economic expansion is its subjectivity to sanctions under the United States' Syria Accountability Act, which strictly prohibits the export of most American-made products to the country. Here, you will learn more about Syria's main business sectors and how they impact the country's economy.
The agricultural sector's value declined during 2006-2007, and had an even sharper decline in 2007-2008. Today, the agricultural sector only comprises about fifteen percent of the gross domestic product of Syria. The decline in the agricultural sector is mainly resultant from the drought that has plagued the country over the past few years; only about a quarter of arable land in Syria has the benefit of an irrigation system.
Syria's oil sector has also seen a decline over the recent past, and now the country is a net importer of petroleum products. The government is under pressure to expand the non-oil private sector; it is expected that production of natural gas will see an increase over the coming years.
The construction, finance, energy, minerals and manufacturing sectors have grown over the past two years, with roads and railways becoming vastly improved. The global economic slide has kept tourism from playing as big a role in the Syrian economy as it could, but improving diplomatic relations between Syria and Arab & Western countries can help soften the blow.
Syria's telecommunications sector is still far behind other countries in the Middle East; the market penetration for mobile phones is about forty percent. Market penetration for internet service providers is even lower than that, making the telecommunications sector in Syria a sector with an abundance of opportunity for expansion and investment.
The finance sector started its opening in 2001, with reforms designed to allow foreigners to invest in local joint ventures with banks. Almost two years ago, foreign banks were allowed to set up offices in Syria, and a stock market was set up around the same time.
Syria's economy can continue to grow as long as free trade is enforced and the private sector continues to expand. Greater government intervention may be necessary to encourage development in the private sector and reduce the country's reliance on imported oil.
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