In a surprising move last month, Syria halted the importation of bulk cement and cement in plastic packages from Turkey. Turkish companies were given until May 1 to adapt to this change in the cement trade. Çağlayan evaluated the results of his visit to Syria at a press conference on Sunday.
The minister said Syrian officials agreed to allow Turkish manufacturers to fulfill their existing contracts for bulk and plastic-packaged cement. Additionally, an extra one-month transition period was granted by Syria, allowing Turkish companies to send their cement in plastic packaging to the country until June. However, the new regulations will apply to any deals signed thereafter.
From now on, Syria will require the purchase of bulk cement to be in craft paper packaging, the minister noted. Additionally, a solution for the problem of Turkish cement being held at customs for tests and analyses was also arrived at during Çağlayan’s discussions. Turkey suggested that the necessary inspections on the cement be carried out while the product stays in the purchasers’ depots instead of waiting for nearly a month in customs; this suggestion was accepted by the Syrian authorities.
Turkey sold $115.2 million of cement to Syria in 2008. This figure rose 41.31 percent in 2009 to reach $164.5 million. The minister stated his expectation that Turkey will earn a total of $200 million from its cement sales to Syria in 2010.
Çağlayan spoke highly about the improving trade relations with Syria over the last couple of years, fueled by the recent political rapprochement. Currently, there are 250 Turkish businessmen in Syria, with a total figure of $700 million in investments, he mentioned to point to the rising economic interdependence between the two countries. The annual trade volume between Syria and Turkey, which was $1.7 billion as of the end of the last year, will exceed $2 billion this year and is expected to reach $5 billion by 2012, Çağlayan asserted.