Industry in Syria

Industry in Syria Last updated on Monday 26th April 2010

It was in the 1960's that Syrian manufacturing industries began to grow significantly. The government encouraged industrialization by raising tariffs on imported consumer goods and providing tax exemptions and credit for domestic industries. Governmental involvement in the economic sector was greatly expanded during federation between Syria and Egypt in the "United Arab Republic" (1958-1961). Shortly before Syria quit the union, most industrial concerns were nationalized. With the exception of a large textile concern and several flour mills, Syrian industry was denationalized following the secession. The requirement that companies distribute 25 percent of their profits to their employees was retained, however. In 1965, many industries that were returned to private management after the breakup of the unity with Egypt were renationalized.

A textile is the largest single manufacturing industry in Syria. Cotton yarn production in 1994 was estimated at about 37,000 metric tons. However, other cotton, woolen, and mixed textiles totaled 16,700 metric tons. Syrian artisans are known for the fine quality of their silk brocades and rugs and for their artistic metalwork in copper, silver, brass, steel and iron. In the early 1990's annual cement production was estimated at about 3.2 million tons. The same period saw a growing in soap, glass, tanning, tobacco, flour, vegetable oil and food-processing industries.

Syrian mineral deposits consist mainly of petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, salt and asphalt. Mountain areas contain some coal, iron ore, copper, gold and lead, but these are in small quantities.

Early industrial activity in Syria was based on the processing of agricultural products, but this changed in the 1970s, with a governmental policy of rapid industrialization, when tariffs were raised on imported consumer goods. As a result, industrial output increased dramatically, particularly in such areas as iron and steel and the annual growth rate is now more than 10%. Fertilizers, chemicals and the assembly of domestic appliances, such as refrigerators and televisions now form part of Syria's industrial programme.

The major manufacturing industry in Syria is the production of cotton and silk textiles. Cement production is also important and growing industries include glass, soap, flour, vegetable oil and tobacco.

Annual production of petroleum products is about 10 million metric tons.

Electric power supply is a continuing problem in Syria and most places are without power for up to four hours per day, despite the completion of a large hydroelectric plant at the Euphrates Dam in the late 1970s.

About 20% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) comes from industry.

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