Official Statistics Paint a Bleak Picture of the Syrian Economy

Figures released by the Central Bureau for Statistics show that Syria's economy retracted 58.3 percent in five years

Statistical collection for the war years: population in Syria is 24.4 million… and the economy retracts 58.3 percent in five years

There have been number of unofficial numbers and estimates about Syria, circulated in studies by global, regional and local research centers and institutions. The Central Bureau for Statistics has resolved this dispute by publishing official statistical data for the years 2011 to 2016. The economic council released the numbers along with permission to publish, noting that Al-Watan had recently published a story about the release of the data.

In a quick reading of the most prominent details in the statistical collection, the number of residents in Syrian territory at the beginning of 2017, according to the office’s estimates, was about 24.4 million people.

Regarding economic data, the gross domestic product (GDP) according to market price, with the year 2000 adopted as its base year, was about 1,537.2 billion Syrian pounds in 2011, which declined to about 1,132.3 billion pounds in 2012. That is a negative growth rate of about 26.34 percent. The GDP reached about 843.51 billion pounds in 2013; a negative annual rate of 26.3 percent, and then declined again to 711.89 billion pounds in 2014, a negative rate of 14.7 percent.

The GDP declined further to 668.23 billion pounds in 2015 at a negative rate of 6.13 percent and then in 2016 to 641.64 billion pounds, at a negative rate of 3.98 percent. Compared that to the constant-price GDP and there was a decline of 58.26 percent during the five years of the war in Syria, between 2011 and 2016.

The GDP at current prices was recorded as 3,252.7 billion pounds in 2011, declining to 3,248.4 billion in 2012, and to 2,937.5 billion in 2013, and then went up to 3,562.6 billion in 2014, and then continued to increase — due to the high inflation rate — in 2015 to about 4,524.9 billion and 5,696.9 billion pounds in 2016.

Structure of Output During 2016

The GDP at current market prices in 2016 was about 5,697 billion Syrian pound, distributed over nine sectors. It was led by the agriculture, forests and livestock sector, with a product value of more than 2,110.4 billion Syrian pounds. This accounted for about 37 percent of the GDP. That was followed by the industry and mining sector that accounted for about 16.4 percent. The value of the product for this sector was about 936 billion pounds. The wholesale, retail and repair sector was in third place with a contribution of about 13.3 percent of the GDP, valued around 756 billion pounds.

Government services were in fourth place with a contribution of about 12.57 percent of the GDP, valuing about 716 billion pounds. Followed by the transport, storage and communications sector that contributed about 10.15 percent of the GDP and a product value of about 578.35 billion pounds. The community and personal services sector contributed about 5.94 percent of the GDP with a product value of about 338.3 billion pounds, followed by the finance, services and real estate sector with about 3.36 percent of the GDP, valued at about 191.6 billion pounds. After that came the construction and building sector with about 1.14 percent and a product value of about 64.72 billion pounds. Finally there was the non-profit sector with about 5.53 billion Syrian pounds.

Foreign Trade Indicators

The volume of imports in 2011 was about 24.7 million tons with a value of more than 964.9 billion pounds, while exports were about 13.5 million tons with a value of 505.1 billion pounds. There was a statistical drop in 2012 with imports of about 17 million tons, valued at about 794.3 billion pounds compared with exports of 5.7 million tons at a value of 196.5 billion pounds. The decline of imported goods continued in 2013 to record low of 12 million tons valued at — as a result of the decline in the value of the pound and the increase of inflation — about 945 billion pounds, while more than 8.6 tons were exported with a value of about 175 billion pounds.

In 2014 there were imports of about 12.2 million tons valued at about 1,563 billion pounds compared to exports of about 5 million tons with a value of about 176 billion pounds. The decline continued in 2015 with imports of about 10 million tons at a value of 1,497.3 billion pounds compared to 3.93 million tons and a value of more than 210 billion pounds for exports.

Finally, imports for 2016 were about 9.3 million tons at a value of 2,238.5 billion pounds and exports of 1.13 million tons at a value of 323.5 billion pounds.

The trade balance recorded growing deficits during the war years (2011-2016) according to official statistics. In 2012 this deficit reached about 598 billion pounds and then rose to about 770 billion pounds in 2013 and up again to 1,387 billion pounds in 2014. There was a slight decrease in 2015 to a level of 1,287.3 billion pounds in 2015 before increasing to a record high in 2016 to about 1,910 billion pounds.

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.


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