The reopening of the key crossing with Jordan effected this month is set to help Syria return to trade with wider regions. This, they believe is the right step in the right direction.
President Bashar Al-Assad’s loyalists took control of the Nassib border post in the closing of the second quarter of the year, from rebels. This was a part of the military offensive that helped reclaim swathe of the southern region.
The country’s international trade has waned during the seven-year-old civil war and Syria’s foreign reserve has depleted greatly. The opening of the Nassib in the middle of October after three years is a seen as a political victory for the Damascus regime, according to Sam Heller of the International Crisis Group.
Heller has also added that it is “a step toward reintegrating with Syria’s surroundings economically and recapturing the country’s traditional role as a conduit for regional trade.”
“For the Syrian government, reopening Nassib is a step toward normalization with Jordan and the broader region, and a blow to US-led attempts to isolate Damascus,” Heller added.
The fighting in Syria has defied international pressure and several rounds of peace talks and seven years in the regime supported by the Russian air power and the Iranian militias has helped the military gain upper hand in the fierce conflict. It is because of such supports that Assad’s forces have now gained control over two-third of the country after series of Russian-supported offensives against rebels and jihadists.
Syria now faces the herculean task of reviving its battered economy. “The country’s exports plummeted by more than 90 percent in the first four years of the conflict alone, from $7.9 billion to $631 million, according to a World Bank report last year.”
“The Syria Report, an economic weekly, said Nassib’s reopening would reconnect Syria with an “important market” in the Gulf.
“But, it warned, “it is unlikely Syrian exports will recover anywhere close to the 2011 levels in the short and medium terms because the country’s production capacity has been largely destroyed,” a report has said.
The good news is that Syrian tradesmen who were forced into costlier and lengthier maritime shipping could now take advantage of the Nassib’s reopening.
A Syrian businessman Farouk Joudnow looks forward to importing goods from neighbouring Jordan and even the United Arab Emirates. According to Joud “it would take maximum three days for us to receive goods, but via the sea it takes a whole month.”
Importation before now involved tedious processes and lengthy time to get goods in from Jordan to the northwest of Syria. “It costs twice as much as land transport via Nassib,” Joud said.
Reports have it that “Before the conflict, the Nassib crossing raked in $2 million in customs fees.”
Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis last month said that fees at the Nassib will had been increased from $10 to $62 for a 4-ton truck.
According to the World Bank, Syria’s foreign reserves have been almost depleted due to the drop in oil exports, loss of tourism revenues and sanctions.
Since the start of the war, the Syrian currency has lost about 90% of its value.