The proposal of common market among Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran: investigating opportunities for agricultural trade

The proposal of common market among Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran: investigating opportunities for agricultural trade

Would Syria’s agricultural sector benefit from an east-Mediterranean common market?

The series of recent economic sanctions against Syria imposed by several countries and blocs sparkled the idea of a regional common market that comprises Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. This paper looks into the actual possibility of establishing this market, and investigates the horizons and opportunities that could be materialised in this context.

The paper finds that it is useful for Syria on the long run to establish a common market that extends from Lebanon to Iran, but currently, it should advance its bilateral trade with each of the other three countries. In addition, the document indicates that such market should be planed carefully, and reached gradually from creating a free trade area to establishing a custom union, and then to developing a common market.

Conclusions include:

  • the proposed regional market would afford the so-called “economies of scale”, which reduce the production costs and increase the competitive advantages of the region’s products
  • Syria’s agricultural sector would benefit from this common market much more than its counterparts in the other three countries
  • Iraq would be the most important trade partner for Syria in this market; therefore, Syria should focus on this from now
  • reasons causing Syrian-Iranian “terms of trade” to be increasingly in favour of Iran rather than in favour of Syria should be investigated, and relevant resolutions to re-balance this trend should be examined

The author also suggests increasing the exportation of Syrian cheese and pastry to Lebanese and Iraqi markets on the short term, as well as cotton lint to Iranian markets. Moreover, he recommends Syria to plan for exporting cereals to Iraq and citruses to Iran on the long run, but he underlines that improving the competitiveness of these two sectors should be achieved before.
  1. How good is this research?

    Assessing the quality of research can be a tricky business. This blog from our editor offers some tools and tips.