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August 01, 2017 | Sebastian Bustos and Muhammed Ali Yildirim
Syria’s Manufacturing Sector: Pre-War Industrial Potential

This policy report on Syria’s industrial sector is part of a series of reports aimed at identifying strategic options Arab countries have in undertaking structural transformation. Using the product space methodology, this report analyzes existing capabilities of selected economies by identifying products they currently export and determining which path they should follow to produce more sophisticated and strategic products. A study of Syria’s product space reveals that the country should focus on products in the foodstuff and chemicals community. Prior to the war, the foodstuff and textile community were closer in distance in terms of productive knowledge and capabilities of the country, while the products in the chemicals & allied industry, plastics/rubber, and machinery/electrical communities had a higher product complexity index. Therefore, developing them would have a larger impact on Syria’s average complexity. Despite Syria’s average low complexity, the country was well-located in the product space and has, on average, shorter distances to more complex products. Therefore, in the pre-war period, Syria had the potential to climb the stairway to heaven by implementing parsimonious industrial policy to help jump shorter distances to other more complex products.

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