Autonomous Administration suspends fodder duties, Raqqa traders demand more
Enab Baladi – Raqqa
The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) suspended customs duties on the imported feed goods in late February, which local traders and experts viewed as a recognition of the economic hardships in areas under its control.
The decision will remain in effect until further notice with the exception of compound poultry feed that came out of the duty-exempt cycle, the AANES stated.
The northeastern region has endured severe drought and aridity, reflected in a shrinking in livestock pasturage amid unaffordable prices for imported feed materials.
Traders in Raqqa city, which fell to the Autonomous Administration control since the uprooting of the Islamic State (IS) group in October 2017, believe that the Administration began to grasp the damages of customs duties to the domestic economy, calling for more exemptions on imported goods.
Create competitive environment
Talal al-Khaled, 50, Raqqa-based feed and grain trader, said that the Autonomous Administration’s full control and monopoly on the imported goods had negatively affected the economic conditions of the residents.
“Exempting goods from customs taxes and allowing traders to import will create a spirit of competition in the markets of northeastern Syria,” which will naturally lead to the availability of goods at lower prices, according to al-Khaled.
The Autonomous Administration imposes customs taxes on goods and products imported to its areas from inside or outside Syria.
The amount of customs duties varies depending on the commodity origin, as a 5 percent fee is imposed on goods imported from areas controlled by the Syrian armed opposition, through the city of Manbij, and goods of the Syrian regime areas in the cities of Tabqa and Deir Ezzor are subjected to a fee of 4 percent.
For fees imposed on goods imported from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) across the Semalka border crossing, it ranges between 2 and 7 percent, depending on the goods’ kind.
The feed trader indicated that the decision to cancel customs duties on fodder materials confirms that “the Autonomous Administration is aware of the negative impact of these fees on economic life in the region.”
Acknowledgment of responsibility
An Economic Committee member in the Raqqa Civil Council told Enab Baladi that the halt of customs duties on fodder materials by the Autonomous Administration amounts to “an admission of responsibility for improving the collapsed economic situation in north and east Syria.”
The committee member, who declined to be named since he is not authorized to declare to media, said the “Administration” is trying within its available capabilities to improve the economic condition of the residents, revealing that this year will witness decisions which will “curb the continuous decay of the economic sector in the Autonomous Administration areas.”
Salman Baroudo, the Co-Chair of the Economic and Agriculture Committee in the AANES, said last October that the Autonomous Administration was in the process of forming a committee to evaluate the economic and customs policies in areas it operates.
In an interview with the North Press website, Baroudo said one of the committee tasks, once formed, is to follow up on the prices of imported materials and check it to reveal the circumstances in commercial transactions and the fake prices of imported goods.
The deteriorating living conditions are shadowing the northeastern regions of Syria despite its possession of most of the oil and gas resources, in addition to swathes of agricultural lands in Raqqa, al-Hasakah, and Deir Ezzor governorates, most of which are under the control of the Autonomous Administration.
The Autonomous Administration monopolizes, through its institutions and individuals, the purchase and sale of many basic materials important to the people, such as sugar, flour, cement, construction iron, and agricultural fertilizers.
It also controls the business of buying and selling agricultural crops by preventing traders from trading in wheat, cotton, corn, and even barley through circulars in this regard at the beginning of each harvest season.
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