comparative advantages study was carried out by six NAPC researchers,
namely H. Al Ashkar, B. Atiya, R. Snoubar, R. Sheikh, N. Amouri and M.
Al Shareef, with the assistance provided by FAO, especially through
Projects GCP/SYR/006/ITA and TCP/SYR/2906, which financed and
coordinated the establishment of a cooperative relationship with CIRAD
(Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique Pour le
Développement) in the person of two international experts, F. Lançon
and M. Fok, and recruited three national experts, M. Khazma, Y. Kassem,
and Y. Ismail.
assumes that an economic activity has a comparative advantage as far
as it can compete with alternative sources of supply from import,
without benefiting from any specific support from the rest of the
economy under the form of transfer of resources.
Products were classified according to main categories: strategic
crops, vegetables, perennials, and livestock. Within each category,
relevant products were chosen by the NAPC in consultation with members
of the Ministerial Price Committee. Cotton and wheat were selected as
strategic crops, orange and olive as perennials, beef meat and cow
milk as livestock production.
6 above-mentioned products were then divided into 28 representative
commodity chain systems on the basis of type of raw material, cropping
technique, processing technique, and export targeted market. These
chains and their related final outputs under the form of processed
agro-food products were selected in order to provide a first set of
indications about the capacity of the agricultural sector to continue
fulfilling its expected contribution to economic development in a new
The Policy Analysis
Matrix (PAM) was used as the analytical framework to estimate the
comparative advantages of the given productive systems. The PAM allows to
compare Income, Input cost, Factors cost, and Profit under private prices
(level of price observed under the current economic conditions) and social
prices (price that would prevail under perfect market conditions leading to
an optimal allocation of resources within the economic system).
results of this study show that all the systems achieved a positive profit
at private price, the highest profit per hectare being achieved by tomato,
followed by orange - with the exception of Fresh Orange Juice Concentrate (FOJC)
- and olive oil production. Field crops, cotton, and wheat achieved a much
lower return per hectare compared to the tomato and perennial production
systems. However, cotton still generates a profit that is more than the
profit per hectare obtained by wheat-based systems, where flour production
gets the lowest profit per hectare while pasta production is more profitable
on a per hectare basis.
the profit obtained at social price, the group which achieved the highest
profit at private price, i.e. tomato, fresh oranges and olive oil, maintains
its profitability in absence of support or protection, while, for the field
crops group, only systems producing pasta, hard wheat flour and some of the
systems producing soft wheat maintain their profitability. In the livestock
group, only the production of packed milk is profitable at social price
while meat production becomes unprofitable under live animal form or fresh
meat form. Cotton production is also not profitable at social price and the
same applies to the production of Fresh Orange Juice Concentrate. It is
worth noting that, with the exception of cotton, systems targeting foreign
markets have a comparative advantage, while systems targeting the domestic
market do not have a comparative advantage, with the exception of the milk
With the important
exception of cotton, these results indicate that the current structure of
trade flow is not significantly affected by the current Syrian agricultural
policy; in other words, systems such as oranges, tomato, or pasta, which are
already exporting a share of their output, will do so even without any
policy or market induced distortion.
Overall, the study
aims at assisting policy maker in formulating policy options and priorities
on a commodity basis with the most cost-effective compromise between
economic efficiency and social equity.