"And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness, the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief. "

Khalil Gibran (How I Became a Madman)



Friday, May 19, 2017

Assad turns to Iran to help 'stabilise' battered economy- The New Arab

The Syrian economy remains in tatters, weighed down by divisions, illegal trade networks and the emergence of new actors.
But with a return to some "stability" in regime-held and regime-conquered areas, GDP decline has slowed. Syria's GDP contracted last year by just 4 percent year-on-year, compared with a 36.5 percent year-on-year decline in 2013, according to Syrian economist Jihad Yazigi.
The consolidation of territories held by President Assad's troops - in the western parts of the country where about two-thirds of the remaining Syrian population resides (millions having fled the brutal onslaught of soldiers and militias loyal to Damascus) -  has contributed to the stabilisation of certain economic sectors.

"This is particularly the case in the manufacturing and construction sectors. The number of licensed manufacturing projects in the first nine months of 2016, for example, was already higher than the annual average in the previous four years," explains Syrian economist Jihad Yazigi.
This relative stability may even encourage entrepreneurs to start reinvesting, despite the ongoing war. Yazigi believes that the conquering of Aleppo and the end of major operations there, having killed unknown hundreds and driven out many more, may allow some return of manufacturing production to the city. The relative "normality" may also encourage desperate refugees and Assad-favouring expatriates on good terms with the regime to return.

Ghobril nonetheless underlines that the overall economic situation remains in dire straits. Quoting the World Bank, he explains: "The positive growth of plant productions due to better climate conditions in 2015 has not eased the constraints on farmers in terms of transporting and marketing their goods. These constraints include insecurity and the absence of safety with the continuation of armed conflict."
In the manufacturing sector, hundreds, if not thousands of businesses have closed down and gone bankrupt. In addition, Yazigi explains business figures and skilled workers have fled to other countries and will not be coming back.
"The industrial sector is also dominated by uncertainty and poor competitiveness, with sudden price fluctuations of the Syrian pound against foreign currencies, poor infrastructure that was largely affected by the armed conflict," according to a World Bank report quoted by Ghobril.