Monday July 23, 2012
Syria’s container trade slides
LONDON: Ship container volumes at Syria’s biggest terminal Latakia have dropped over 20% in the past six months year-on-year as growing turmoil hampers trade even for basic goods including food, trade sources said.
Syrian rebels on Thursday kept up pressure on President Bashar al-Assad following the assassination of three top lieutenants, fighting loyalist troops within sight of the presidential palace and near government headquarters in Damascus, residents said.
Official data from Latakia International Container Terminal, issued in recent days, showed volumes in the first six months of the year fell to 217,386 twenty foot equivalent units (TEUs) versus 275,264 TEUs in the same period last year. That compared with 293,111 TEUs in 2010.
“Given the growing turmoil, it is surprising that volumes are not even lower. Syria is facing growing problems sourcing even basic items such as sugar, which are transported in containers,” a Middle East based trader said.
Latakia province is home to several towns inhabited by members of Assad’s minority Alawite sect. Opposition sources and a Western diplomat said the embattled leader was now in the coastal city after Wednesday’s assassinations.
The European Union, the United States and other Western countries have imposed sanctions on Assad’s government in response to his crackdown on a 16-month revolt. — Reuters