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Syrian pound drops to record low against US dollar

Syria's national currency has been battered over the past nine years [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 June, 2020

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The Syrian pound has hit its record low against the US dollar following incoming US sanctions against the regime and the state's seizure of a business tycoon's assets.

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Syria, economy

The Syrian pound reached a record low against the US dollar on Thursday, Reuters reported, following fresh US sanctions against the Syrian regime and the state's seizure of assets belonging to business tycoon and President Bashar al-Assad's cousin Rami Makhlouf.

According to Reuters, traders said it cost as much as 2,050 Syrian pounds to buy one dollar on the street on Thursday. After rapid declines this week, the pound closed at 1,900 on Wednesday. A week ago, it fluctuated around 1,500 pounds to the dollar.

Much like war-torn Syria, the country's national currency has been battered over the past nine years. At the start of 2011 - before protests erupted against Assad's rule - the Syrian pound stood steady at a rate of around 50 pounds to the US dollar.

It saw a steady decline before plummeting in mid-October, Reuters reported, as neighbouring Lebanon's financial crisis interrupted a main source of foreign currency inflows. 

According to Reuters, dealers noted a panic selling of pounds sparked over fears of the economic repercussions from new US sanctions that will be implemented this month.

The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Law would penalise foreign companies working with Syrian firms associated with Assad's regime. The law is named after a Syrian military defector who testified before the US government on the regime's torture and execution of civilians.

Read also: In-depth : Charting the dramatic collapse of Syria's national currency

The state's recent seizure of assets - such as hotels, banks and telecommunications company Syriatel - from the ultra-wealthy Makhlouf also contributed to anxieties over Syria's economic turmoil, Reuters reported.

Investors told Reuters business activity in Syria has been paralysed, with merchants and trading firms reluctant to sell or buy in a market with a daily decline that fluctuates between 5 and 10 percent.

Syria's financial woes also drove up inflation, with Syrians being unable to afford basics such as food and power.

The Syrian conflict is currently in its ninth year.

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