US imposes trade restrictions on Syria

The United States has slapped economic sanctions on Syria and halted all American exports except humanitarian items.

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By  Shilpa Mathai Published  May 12, 2004

The United States has slapped economic sanctions on Syria and halted all American exports except humanitarian items. President George W Bush has also ordered a freeze on certain Syrian assets in the US and accused the Arab state of supporting terror and pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missiles. The sanctions are authorized under the Syria Accountability Act signed by President Bust in December. It includes a ban on flights between Syria and the US but exports of US food, medicines and aircraft parts are not affected. Syria has denied wrongdoing and says sanctions will only harm US interests. Bilateral trade between the US and Syria is worth around US$ 0.3 billion and chief exports are petroleum products and textiles. According to 2002 figures, trade between Syria and the European Union is worth $ 7.2 billion. In his statement, President Bush said Syria’s actions amounted to an ‘unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy’ of the US. Damascus also possessed ‘one the most advanced Arab state chemical weapons capabilities’, the statement said. Mohammed Naji al-Otari, Syrian prime minister has termed the sanctions ‘unjust and unjustified’.

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