Exports to Syria plunge 74 percent to $22.1 million

Exports to Syria plunge 74 percent to $22.1 million

GAZİANTEP - Anatolia News Agency
Exports to Syria plunge 74 percent to $22.1 million

Exports to Syria from the southeast of Turkey have come to a halt, says Abdulkadir Çıkmaz, GAİB President. AA Photo

Exports from Turkey’s southeast to Syria plunged 74 percent to $22.1 million in the first five months of the year compared with the same period last year, according to data by the Southeastern Anatolia Exports Union (GAİB). Last year’s exports figure for the period was $85.9 million.

Syria was the second country after Iraq in number of exports received from the region in 2010, but has fell to fifth place last year. This year Syria is not even amongst the first 20 countries on the list.

“Exports to Syria from the [southeastern] region have almost come to a halt,” said Abdulkadir Çıkmaz, the president of the GAİB. Exports from Turkey to Syria were boosted significantly and the number Turkish investors in Syria rose in the period after visa requirements were lifted mutually, he said.

“Drop in exports to Syria would near 100 percent, but there have been some foodstuff exports due to the coming Ramadan season via Cilvegöz customs gate. The buyers in Syria used to take security measure until the goods arrived from the customs to their depots. But after now even if you export to Syria, you will face many challenges. After [the recent shooting down of the military jet] I think there will neither be any export nor transit pass,” he said.

Alternative routes have been attempted due to transit pass challenges such as direct shipping from Mersin port, Çıkmaz said, noting that Syria is a gateway to the Middle East and Gulf countries.

“Syria was an important country for us. But after the downing of the fighter jet the Syrian government [had a blatant attitude]. We, the Southeastern Exports Union, back the government’s decisions up to the end,” he said.