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‘Economy of Refugees’ Revives Turkey | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Syrian refugees stroll on a street of a low-income neighborhood
in Ankara. Reuters

Ankara-Syrian refugees in Turkey were considered a sort of burden on Turkey’s economy, but recent statistics and forecasts have shown that their existence has had a significant recovery impact and has remarkably raised growth rate in the country with more growth expected during 2016.

Due to the war circumstances in their country, Syrian refugees in Turkey have contributed to revenues of $5 million per day through the Turkish commodities they export to Syria.

Taher Ahmad Kasem, the head of the Syrian Trade and Industry Chamber in Turkey, said that refugees mainly export food products to Syria via the border gates of Cilvegözü and Öncüpınar.

Kasem noted that the association, which was established some 21 months ago near the southeastern district of Reyhanlı, now has 600 members, adding that they planned to launch branches in the southern provinces of Mersin and Gaziantep.

Kasem said the association submitted the required applications to export granulated sugar to Syria from Turkey and waits for approval. The Syrian chamber’s head has revealed that they aim to import several agricultural products which are produced by farmers in Idlib and the neighboring region near the Turkish border, including lentils, cumin and olives.

According to official Turkish statistics, Syrian companies established in Turkey represent 25% out of 50,000 new companies which open each year.

Over the first seven months of the year, 2,786 foreign-partnered companies were founded in Turkey; according to the latest data from the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), 1,102 of companies were established in partnership with Syrians and 177 with Iraqis and Germans.

Turkish officials and experts saw that Syrian refugees in Turkey are one of the main reasons behind the swift jump in the Turkish growth rate during the Q3 of 2015, and they have expected additional increase in growth rates in 2016.

Officials in the Turkish economic sector say that Syrians have positively affected the Turkish economy by importing new commodities from Syria including cooking oil, bread, flour and construction materials over the past five years.

While Syrian refugees in Turkey, who have reached 2.7 million people, have represented a threat to job opportunities for Turkish nationals, they have stimulated the economic growth particularly through their consumption expenditure.

Deputy Prime Minister for economic affairs Mehmet Simsek considered that the 4% growth reached during the Q3of 2015 was a positive surprise while the Turkish government has raised its forecasts to 4.5% from 4%.

Estimates have pointed that a Syrian refugee spends TRY346 monthly, which means that 2.7 refugees spend around 0.6% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in Turkey.

Before the new amendments concerning work authorizations for refugees in Turkey, Syrians were considered as only consumers, which led to more inflation. However, their acquisition of work rights will contribute in limiting this inflation while at the same time increasing the unemployment rate.