Central Bank of Syria adds firewood, ceramics to import financing platform

Palm trees logging in Jableh city in Syria’s coastal region - January 2023 (Agricultural Media in Syria/Facebook)

Palm trees logging in Jableh city in Syria’s coastal region - January 2023 (Agricultural Media in Syria/Facebook)

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The Central Bank of Syria’s Management Committee has added new materials, including firewood and ceramics, to the bank’s import financing lists, which have been adopted since August 2021.

The new materials added pursuant to Decision No. 64/L.E, issued on Thursday, January 18, included yeast, ceramic, insulating materials, and pine firewood.

Customs clearance of these materials is permitted only after obtaining formal approval from the Central Bank, while the decision excludes imports of yeast and insulating materials listed in the new decision, which arrived at the customs secretariats before the date of entry into force of the decision so that they can be cleared without the need for consent.

These materials are added to import financing lists created in accordance with the Central Bank’s Decision No. 1130 of August 2023, which replaced Decision No. 1070 of 2021.

The period of the importers’ access to financing lasts more than three months, costing them material losses due to the exchange rate change during this period, while the regime government relies on the import financing platform to “limit the out-flows of foreign exchange.”

Yasser Akreem, a member of the board of directors of the Damascus Chamber of Commerce, complained in November 2023 that the import financing platform has not yet improved the markets and that the business sector, including traders, importers, and industrialists, suffer from the restrictions of the platform and long waiting periods, creating “widespread confusion” due to cost hikes, exchange rate fluctuations, and shortages of goods and commodities due to the lack of permission to import sufficient quantities.

Akreem also criticized the existence of laws that have contributed to harming traders, including restricting the movement of their capital due to the presence of the import financing platform, and described the current situation of the trader in Syria as “at its worst” due to the government’s failure to support him as required.

After import permission

The decision of the Central Bank of Syria to add ceramics and firewood to the import financing platform lists comes less than a month after permitting the import of firewood and less than two months after allowing the import of ceramics.

On December 21, 2023, the Syrian Prime Ministry agreed to allow the import of 10,000 tons of dry heating firewood, to “preserve forest wealth.”

The Prime Ministry’s decision stated that the Ministries of Economy, Foreign Trade, Finance (General Customs Directorate) and Agriculture, and the Central Bank of Syria would be mandated to coordinate jointly to determine the customs code for the importation of firewood and to establish the necessary mechanism for the issuance of the necessary decision.

On November 20, 2023, the Economic Committee chaired by the Syrian Prime Ministry announced that ceramics would be allowed to be imported with a tax of 10,000 Syrian pounds per square meter of imported ceramics.

The Committee justified the decision to impose the tax by stating that the imposition of additional costs on the prices of imported products gives the local product “preferential advantages over imported products.”

Such justification is incompatible with the reason why ceramics of locally produced and non-produced sizes were allowed to be imported. According to the Committee, the soaring prices of locally made ceramics and the lack of certain sizes or other specific quality required for certain sectors resulted in a “semi-monopolistic state of the ceramics market by local producers.”

 

 

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