Dubai: Syria has enough strategic commodities to sustain its population for five years, Mohammad Jleilati, Syrian Minister of Finance, has told Gulf News.

Jleilati said Syria had reserves of wheat, and sugar for five years and that sanctions and embargoes on trade would not harm the country.

"We have reserves of strategic commodities which are essential for the people in Syria for five years under any sanctions," said Jleilati.

Jleilati said Syria produced 90 per cent of its needs and only ten per cent were imported from other countries.

The budget of the Syrian government depends on 50-60 per cent of domestic resources which are mainly taxes and services, said the minister.

Up to 30 per cent of the budget is from oil resources which are mostly refined for domestic use in industries, he added.


He said the unemployment rate in the country was 8.5 per cent compared to some other countries in the region which have more than 12 per cent rate and the inflation rate ranges between 4-5 per cent.

Syria is encouraging the development of private businesses in the economy, opening the country's first stock exchange in 2009, said the minister, adding that Syria started selling treasury bonds for the first time December 2010.

Syria aims to attract as much as $55 billion in foreign direct investment over the next five years, with almost half of that earmarked for infrastructure projects, concluded the minister.

Meanwhile, Jleilati told AFP that economic growth in his country was expected to slide to around one per cent because of unrest.

"Now, it will be around one per cent, because of the events... maybe between one to two per cent," he said.

He said the Syrian economy grew 5.5 per cent in 2010, and he expected gross domestic product to grow by around three per cent next year.