Syria selling gold amid toughening Western, Arab sanctions

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A Syrian Central Bank employee stacks bank notes. Photo - AFP

Syria has resorted to selling its gold reserves in order to raise revenues as sanctions imposed by Western and Arab nations bite its exchequer, diplomats and traders said.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told the ‘Friends of Syria’ conference in Paris that Western embargo on Syria has halved its foreign exchange reserves from about $17 billion. The meeting with officials from around 60 nations discussed ways to coordinate measures against President Bashar Al Assad’s government. “Syria is selling its gold at rock bottom prices,” a Western diplomatic source told on condition of anonymity. It declined to reveal its source of information or location where it was being sold.

A second diplomatic source seconded the information, adding that Damascus was looking to dispose of everything it could to raise funds, including currency reserves.

The European Union slapped further sanctions on the Syrian government that included prohibition of gold and other precious metals trade with Syrian state institutions, including the central bank. Another anonymous trader said many deals have not gone through yet in Dubai because the UAE authorities were blocking unauthorised trade. “Few potential buyers are not willing to take risks,” it added.

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