Facing Backlash, Syria Revokes Week-Old Ban on Imports of Consumer Goods
The Syrian government on Tuesday revoked a recent decision to ban imports of most consumer goods, a move that had sent prices soaring and provoked outrage among a business elite that has until now backed the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad in his nearly seven-month contest with anti-government activists.
The revocation was just one in a string of developments on a tumultuous day for Syria. The United Nations Security Council voted Tuesday on a resolution calling for an end to violence there and suggesting the possibility of sanctions; the resolution failed after Russia and China vetoed it.
Meanwhile, Turkey said it would begin military maneuvers along its border with Syria this week. Though previously announced, the location of the exercise near the border seemed a move by an increasingly assertive Turkey to bring more pressure on Damascus…
Analysts said the ban had been ordered without any study of the potential effects on the Syrian market or on Syria’s trade agreements with neighboring countries. Some economists in Syria said the import ban and its reversal were indicators that the Syrian leadership remained uncertain in the face of the uprising and its ramifications for the Syrian economy.
“The ruling caused a domestic uproar that was very important,” said Nabil Sukkar, a former senior economist at the World Bank who now leads the Syrian Consulting Bureau for Development and Investment, based in Damascus. “They realized that they can’t do that because it will lead to soaring prices, smuggling, unemployment and harm the credibility of the reforms…”