Central Bank of Syria trying to protect its foreign assets
According to reports from informed sources, the Central Bank of Syria transferred assets from its accounts in Jordan, fearing a decision by the United Nations to freeze the Syrian regime’s funds. The Jordanian newspaper “Arabs Today” added that the financial transactions made by the Syrian Central Bank this month were to transfer balances from the dollar to other currencies, as well as cash withdrawals and transfers from Jordanian banks to Syria.
According to the sources, the Central Bank has transferred a 400 million dollar fund to a major Jordanian bank, exchanging dollars for Saudi riyals, and withdrew a fund worth 30 million dollars from one bank to another before the latter transferred it back in cash to Syria.
The source attributed these financial operations to fear in Damascus, that these balances would be affected by European and American sanctions. The amount of money the Central Bank of Syria has in Jordanian banks is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Meanwhile, sources in the shipping industry say that the volume of shipping in the ports of Tartus and Latakia declined by 35 to 40% in the first eight months of 2011.
On the other hand, shipping agents and businessmen said that the Syrian exports declined due to low volume of orders, and deferred orders by Syrians Importers because of the prevailing uncertainty. The ports of Tartus and Latakia were hit by a dramatic decrease in the movement of commercial traffic.
Industry sources indicate that the volume of freight of the various types of goods in these ports declined since the outbreak of protests in March 2011 by 35 to 40% in the first eight months of this year, compared to the same period of 2010.
A major freight operator in the port of Tartus said, “We used to receive 25 to 30 ships a day, but the figure dropped to between 5 and 10 a day”. European companies have begun avoiding the port after the imposition of sanctions by Europe and the U.S. on Syria’s oil exports in recent weeks.
Shipping companies are trying to compensate for the decline in trade with Syria by providing competitive prices for the transfer of containers to the close-by ports of Beirut, Mersin and Alexandria, which offers the same service to Europe and the Mediterranean basin. Iraqi, Jordanian and Saudi importers who used to transport bulk cargo from Syrian ports, such as wood, marble, steel and grain from the Black Sea region and North and Central Europe, are now looking for alternatives to transport their goods.