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AGRICULTURE, TRADE, AND POVERTY IN SYRIA 145


steel and steel products, wood, white cement, yarn for the textile industry, coffee, tea, rice, canned fish and meat, raw sugar, fertilizers, raw leather, and paper.


Both public entities and private agents may theoretically import any products not included on these four lists. According to Syrian officials, there is thus no positive list of imports that are allowed in Syria. These Syrian offi- cials made no mention of the existence of quotas, tariff quotas, or calendar restrictions or of the need to comply with particular standards. Measuring the impact of quantitative restrictions on prices is a difficult task. The most common method is the price-gap approach, which compares the domestic price of imported goods with the international price after adjustment for tariffs, shipping costs, costs of domestic transportation, and customs procedures and the impact of import and export financing schemes (Chemingui and Dessus 2004). The remaining price differentials between domestic and world prices thus measure the impact of quantitative restric- tions on the domestic price of importable goods. This approach does have limitations because it is difficult to obtain accurate information on domestic and world prices at a sufficiently disaggregated level. In most cases, the esti- mated tariff equivalent of quantitative restrictions covers a set of products.2 In addition, it is impossible formally to assign the origin of the estimated residual price gap to an existing import regulation; for instance, corruption or quality differences might also partially explain the price gap. Given these qualifications, Table 6.4 presents estimates of the tariff equivalents of quantitative restrictions for selected agricultural commodi- ties. Across all product categories (agricultural and nonagricultural), tariff rates are positively correlated with the tariff equivalents of quantitative restrictions, which suggests that both are used to support the same objective. Chemingui and Dessus (2004) estimate that across all product categories, the weighted average tariff equivalent of quantitative restrictions is 19 percent, compared to the weighted average tariff rate of 8 percent. Thus, quantitative restrictions probably represent the main source of trade protection in Syria.


Other Barriers to Trade


Two other barriers to trade tend to raise the cost of international trade between Syria and the rest of the world: (1) the use of a multiple exchange


2 The calculations carried out by Chemingui and Dessus (2004) cover, on average, 60 percent of the products within each group of imported products (and 50 percent on a weighted average). By default, the authors assumed that the share of imports not covered in each group faces the same tariff equivalent as the share of imports covered by their estimates.


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