Critics from within the Assad regime have expressed concerns about the recent agreement between the Syrian and Iranian governments to eliminate customs duties. This has led to increased discussions about the extent of investments and trade agreements that may further strengthen Iran’s influence in areas under regime control.
Former Minister Lamia Assi pointed out that free trade agreements resulting in zero customs duties can have a positive impact on trade between two countries, provided there is a balanced trade flow with both exports and imports.
However, Assi raised a valid concern in a recent publication. If imports constitute a significant majority, say 80% or more, while exports remain minimal, it could lead to losses for the public treasury, exacerbating the already challenging financial situation without generating any returns.
Yasser Akram, a member of the Damascus Chamber of Commerce, acknowledged the potential benefits of abolishing customs duties for economic development. Nevertheless, he emphasized that to truly benefit from this move, it is crucial to diversify the range of importable materials and encourage various forms of tourism, not solely religious tourism.
Akram further argued that while the elimination of duties may have a negative impact on local products, it can also spur healthy competition, ultimately elevating the quality of domestic products. Accessing materials without customs duties could lead to reduced market prices, especially if imports are facilitated without unnecessary restrictions.
Economist Ali Kanaan explained that a free trade agreement is essentially a bloc between two or more countries aimed at liberalizing trade. Such agreements involve removing all tariff and non-tariff barriers on the exchange of goods and services.
Overall, the agreement between Syria and Iran on customs duties has its merits, but it also requires careful consideration of trade balance and the promotion of diverse economic activities to ensure positive outcomes for both nations involved.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.