Syria turns to euro for half of currency reserves


From Agence France Presse
via Yahoo News
Sunday, February 4, 2007

Syria has replaced the dollar with the euro for half of its foreign currency reserves as part of efforts to counter possible U.S. sanctions, Prime Minister Mohammed Naji Otri said.

"The Syrian pound is sheltered from crises because of its large foreign currency reserves and because the euro has replaced the dollar in the case of about half of this money," Otri said, quoted by the state news agency SANA.

At the start of 2006 the premier sent out a circular instructing all ministries and state companies to adopt the euro instead of the dollar to repay foreign debts and for import-export contracts.

Since May 2004, Syria has been under U.S. economic sanctions banning imports of American goods apart from food and medicine.

"The pressure exerted on Syria because of its Arab and nationalist stand has somewhat slowed economic reforms and lessened some investments, but they will never halt the process" of reforms, said Otri.

He said that almost 2,500 laws and decrees had been passed between 2003 and the end of 2006 as part of the government's efforts to modernise and develop state organizations.

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