Creating new perspectives since 2009

UK heavily reduces trade tariffs for Syria regime, despite human rights concerns

August 18, 2022 at 7:31 pm

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus on 9 November 2021 [Emirates News Agency WAM]

The United Kingdom has announced that it will offer the Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad a huge reduction in trade tariffs, in a bid to cut import costs and assist the economies of developing countries.

In an announcement by the UK’s Department for International Trade this week, it revealed that it will unilaterally offer a significant reduction in tariffs for a number of developing nations, including eight which will be added to the “enhanced preferences” scheme.

Under that scheme, the UK will drop tariffs on 85 per cent of goods traded between the country and the States listed, with the aim of cutting import costs for British consumers and helping boost the economies of the poorer nations. One of those eight States now included in the scheme is Syria.

According to the British newspaper, iNews, the UK’s trade with Syria is worth around £6 million ($7.2 million), with exports to the war-ridden country worth £4 million. In the last fiscal year, the UK reportedly imported £2 million worth of goods from Syria.

According to the British government’s latest report published this month, the top exports to Syria from Britain are dairy products and mechanical and electrical goods, while the top imports from the UK to Syria are textiles, sugar and vegetables.

READ: The world will regret bringing Assad in from the cold

Following the announcement, there was significant outcry against the easing of tariffs for Syria, due to its rule by the Assad regime which has brutally suppressed peaceful protests, been responsible for the vast majority of the half a million deaths during the ongoing civil war, and continues to disappear tens of thousands of in the country and subject them to torture within the regime’s vast prison network.

The British government, however, responded to the outcry by claiming that the change to the scheme’s list automatically included Syria, and that the UK’s sanctions against the regime will prevent Assad and his allies from directly profiting from trade with London.

According to iNews, a government spokesman said that “The UK already has robust sanctions on the Syrian regime, and these sanctions should ensure that where trade does change it will not benefit those who support or profit from the existing regime.”

The Labour party’s shadow Attorney General for England and Wales, Emily Thornberry, also condemned the move, stating that “this is exactly what we have come to expect from a Government that treats human rights and international law as an irrelevance and we are only going to see more of the same whoever the Tories [Conservatives] choose as their new leader.”

READ: UK fines UAE-based company for violating Syria sanctions