Smuggling mobile phones forces “Emmatel” to break prices in Syria
Last week, mobile phone prices in Syria fell in value at Emmatel stores, which controls the mobile sector entirely.
According to what Enab Baladi monitored, the company lowered its prices on all devices sold in its showrooms by at least 30% off the price set by the company since the mobile was introduced.
Since the price cut, the company has repeatedly republished a post in which it wrote, “We broke prices on all devices with an Emmatel guarantee.”
Emmatel controls the mobile market in regime-held areas and is the only company capable of importing mobiles of all kinds.
Mukhles al-Ahmad, a mobile shop owner in Homs, told Enab Baladi that Emmatel owned the entire market and took al-Buraq Telecoms out of competition, confining Mabco’s work to solely maintenance activity so that it remains the only company that owns mobile showrooms and shops in all governorates.
Mukhles argues that opening the door to permits for mobile phones (Customs) through the two telecommunications companies “Syriatel and MTN caused Emmatel to lose its ability to monopolize the market and created an uncontrollable parallel market.
Each device’s customs duties are determined by the globally popular price, which is determined by a pricing system, after which customs value is calculated. The value of the customs is between 80,000 SYP for phones with lower specifications and about 4 million SYP for the ones with high specifications.
Smuggled mobile phones at competitive prices are flooding the market
Lebanon is the gateway for smuggling to Syria through the border with the al-Qusayr and Tal Kalakh regions in the southern Homs countryside. Mobiles are the most prominent commodities smuggled through these routes.
Mobile phones are put on the market after being declared by the two telecommunications companies and paying the imposed fees or subjecting them to their own jailbreak process through “root” programs that change the device’s IMEI to be able to operate the Syrian SIM cards. It is then put on the market at prices much lower than those of Emmatel.
Khaled, a trader of smuggled mobile phones, told Enab Baladi that smuggled mobiles forced Emmatel to break its prices after they flooded the markets.
Khaled added that Emmatel was betting on the Damascus market, which was tightly controlled by the regime’s government. However, the smuggled devices recently arrived in Damascus as well, prompting the company to reduce prices.
Khaled indicated that the company is offering mobile phones in its showrooms with an increase of 150% over their real prices, adding that if it were not for smuggled mobiles, all residents of Syria would have been forced to buy their mobiles from Emmatel.
Emmatel is owned by the Syrian businessman Khader Taher, known as Abu Ali Khader, who is close to the wife of the Syrian regime’s president, Bashar al-Assad.
The said company was established in early 2019 to import, export, and trade mobile phones, computers, and electronic devices of all kinds and to enter bids and tenders.
In September 2020, the US Treasury Department included businessman Khader Taher and groups of companies owned by him, led by Emmatel, on Syria’s sanctions lists.
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