The decision was announced in a written statement by Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan on Tuesday. According to the new arrangement, companies operating in Syria that are required to repay their Eximbank loans by the end of July of this year will be able to make these payments in January 2013 instead. This follows an earlier incentive that allowed Turkish firms hit by the Syrian crisis to suspend their tax payments until the trade situation returns to normal. The government will decide whether to extend this suspension in line with the developments in bilateral trade with Syria.
In addition to this six-month deferral of loan repayments, Çağlayan said the government would introduce additional measures to ease the burden on firms that do business in Syria. He said the Eximbank repayments were split into 36-month installments with these changes. “The firms in question are not required to repay the principal amount of the loan for 18 months following the date they first received the loan,” he added. The minister also said the government asked financial institutions to ease procedures for letters of guarantee. Some exporter firms are unable to collect their payments from Syrian customers because letters of credit have not been confirmed by Syrian authorities.
Turkish companies with production facilities in Syria, transporters and exporters to this country have suffered serious losses since the violence first broke out. Turkish investments in Syria amount to nearly $1 billion. In 2011, the number of Turkish firms exporting to Syria was 3,269, and this number dropped to 538 in the first two months of 2012. The number of Turkish firms importing from Syria was 644 in 2011, but dropped to 108 in the first two months of 2012.