Majalla Magazine: Ankara is stealing Syrian crops

Turkey’s expanding control over northern Syria’s economy

As the current economic crisis mounts in Turkey, Syrian lands in the northern east and west territories controlled by Ankara are making up for the Turkish fiscal deficit.  Additionally, these areas have become new markets for Turkish products as well as a source of food and agricultural imports.

In 2019 Syrian exports to Turkey amounted to more than $117 million, an amount less than previous years according to the International Trade Center, which has not yet released its 2020 annual report. Some economists doubt the number because Ankara does not disclose data for its Syrian exports.

“Syrian exports to Turkey are not classified as imports by Ankara as a result of Turkish control of Syrian territory.   This is especially so as no official data is released in this regard,” said Chalang Omar, an    academic scholar and economist.

He pointed out that “Afrin’s olive oil exports alone to Turkey amounted to $100 million in 2019. How then could the total worth of Turkish imports from Syria be only $117 million in the same year?”

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Omar told Majalla, “Syrian products exported to Turkey are not categorized as exports, rather they are confiscated and bought for low prices. This is on top of Ankara’s annexation of the Turkish-controlled region’s economy. Products transported from these Syrian lands to Turkey are not subject to customs, but are directly shipped by Turkish traders and are not labelled as imports from Syria.”

Omar revealed that “the data of Syria’s Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade does not mention the size of the trade between Damascus and Ankara,” adding that “Ankara officially incorporated the economy of Syrian territories such as Idlib, al-Bab, Jarabulus, Afrin, Ras al-Ayn, and Tell Abyad.”

The economist went on, “These occupied Syrian cities became economically absorbed by Turkey. Obviously, since we can see the Turkish lira exclusively circulating there. Moreover, all economic and service-related decisions are made by Ankara via its provinces. For example, both cities of Ras al-Ayan and Tell Abyad are associated with Turkish Şanlıurfa Province, while Afrin is linked Hatay, and Azaz to Kilis. Ankara doesn’t deny this fact. Moreover, all projects in these areas have been taken over by Turkish companies”.

Read more: Majalla