Beirut also hurt by Syrian gate dispute

Beirut also hurt by Syrian gate dispute

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Beirut also hurt by Syrian gate dispute

People walk around a square in downtown Beirut. Lebanon’s trade relations with Turkey are impacted by border gate problems between Turkey and Syria. AFP photo

The cost of transporting Turkish goods to Lebanon has nearly doubled due to the security situation in Syria, leaving both Turkish and Lebanese merchants suffering, Lebanon’s Daily Star has reported.

“While prices remain unchanged so far, stores will be compelled to hike prices as soon as they receive new goods at a higher cost,” said Nicolas Khoury, a wholesale trader in Lebanon.

Khoury said the transportation cost of a double-sized blanket had doubled from $15 to $28. “The higher transportation costs incurred by wholesalers would raise retail prices by an even higher percentage since retailers sell their products at 1.6 to 2.5 times the cost of goods.”

Delivery time has also doubled. Land transport across the Syrian-Turkish border has been delayed over the past week, with hundreds stranded at the border, the Daily Star reported.

Delivery time doubled

“While land transportation used to take three to four days, today the delivery of goods could take up to a week to 10 days,” said Mazen Abdallah, who owns several retail stores in Beirut and imports garments from Turkey. Air freight, an alternative shipping mode, costs up to $9 per kilo of goods, according to Abdallah.

Both Khoury and Abdallah said long delivery times due to the absence of a direct route to Lebanon made maritime shipping equally inconvenient.

Lebanese-Turkish bilateral trade had reached $750 million as of the end of October, a 23 percent increase from last year, according to the Daily Star.

Meanwhile, a decline in trade between Turkey and Syria as well as a drop in transit trade amounts to a $7 billion-8 billion dollar loss for Turkey, according to Turkey-Syria Businessmen Foundation head Oktay Tarhan.

“As of the end of 2007, the Turkish-Syrian trade volume was $995 million. In three short years by 2010 it had jumped up to $2.5 billion. This number had been projected to increase to $3 billion for 2011,” said Tarhan.

Now, however, Syria has put a freeze on the free trade agreement between the two countries.