Turkey resumes exports to Syria

Article Summary
Although Turkish exports to Syria have decreased significantly since the outbreak of the civil war, cross-border trade has increased with Turkish manufacturers selling goods in rebel-held areas in the north.

Turkey has resumed exports of commodities to Syria. The Syrian market  is important for producers in east and southeast Turkey, especially those dealing in foodstuffs and apparel. It is also a lucrative market for Turkish truck freight companies. In cities close to the Syrian border, there are huge rig fleets established to transport goods to Syria, and through Syria to other countries of the region.

In 2010, Turkey sold Syria $1.8 billion worth of goods, according to officially registered figures. In that year, 106,000 Turkish trucks crossed the Syrian border. Then, the war wiped out the officially registered exports. But this year, despite the escalation in fighting, sales to Syria have resumed and are expected to exceed $500 million.

The truck traffic had decreased to 13,000 in 2012. But only in the first six months of 2013, 23,000 trucks had already crossed the border.

Ayse Yucel of the Dunya newspaper in her research explains the new channels of trade with Syria. She said, "There is no state control on the Syrian side. The buyers there establish contacts with Turkish producers. The trucks go to the buffer zone between the two countries, collect the payments in cash and then transfer their loads to Syrian rigs. As Turkish trucks have crossed the border, that is considered as official exports."

In this new trade setup, the buyers are supporters of the Syrian opposition who pay no taxes for their imports. The stuff they import is generally sold on the black market.

There is no transport farther than the border for Turkish trucks, which deliver their cargo to Syria's door. They can’t go any farther than that. In the old days, they were paid $2,000 for their services. They used to buy cheap fuel in Syria. Now they get 1,000-1,500 Turkish lira [$500-$750] for a delivery to the door. The Syrian opposition controls this trade and the crossing of trucks.

The result: They are worried about their lives; we are worried about our goods. What to do? That’s life.

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Found in: turkey, trade, syrian opposition, syrian crisis, syria, imports, exports
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