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Cablegate: Syria's Ai-Related Import Restrictions On Poultry

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 006397

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD EAGR SYAI
SUBJECT: SYRIA'S AI-RELATED IMPORT RESTRICTIONS ON POULTRY

REF: A) SECSTATE 216147 B) DAMASCUS 6129

1. (SBU) Summary: The AI-related trade ban on all poultry
imports into Syria, which expires next week, has not
impacted poultry consumption and prices as much as has the
Syrian population's fear and uncertainty of the exact nature
of the threat posed by avian influenza. In the past two
months, the live-weight selling price of poultry has dropped
approximately 50 percent and Syrian producers are currently
operating at a substantial loss. Though Syria does not
import U.S. poultry products, an extension of the trade ban
could affect transit trade of poultry products to Iraq from
countries like Lebanon and Turkey. End summary.

2. (SBU) Ref A requested information regarding changes in
market demand for poultry products and updates on any AI-
related trade restrictions in Syria. Syria's Ministry of
Agriculture placed a two-month trade ban on all live, raw,
and frozen poultry imports from all countries that will
expire on December 16 (ref B). Local producers do not
expect that the ban will be extended and have commented that
the SARG may allow pen-stock and grandparent birds, from NAI
countries, into Syria before the end of this week. The
Ministry of Health, however, had indicated that the ban
could be extended on a monthly basis.

3. (U) With over 10,000 registered and unregistered broiler
and layer chicken farms in Syria, the country is self-
sufficient in poultry and egg production and is a net
exporter of certain poultry products to neighboring
countries. Thus, the trade ban itself has not impacted the
overall consumption and domestic prices of poultry. On the
other hand, fear and uncertainty about the nature and
severity of avian influenza in humans as well as AI-related
media hype have had a drastic negative impact on poultry
prices in Syria since early October. At the beginning of
Ramadan in October, a month during which poultry producers
normally realize high profit margins, live-weight poultry
prices averaged 55 SP/kg (one USD/kg). Within two weeks the
price had dropped to 35 SP/kg, and after a month it had
fallen to its current selling price of 24 SP/kg.

4. (SBU) With poultry production costs ranging from 42 to 50
SP/kg, poultry producers' cash flows are ebbing. One Syrian
poultry farmer estimates that the AI-related loss to Syrian
producers ranges from 100 - 250 million SP/day (1.75 to 4.3
million USD/day). However, the eleven government-owned
poultry production facilities operated under the General
Organization for Poultry (Ministry of Agriculture) are not
facing comparable losses, as they have a contractual
agreement to sell broiler chickens to the Syrian military at
an average price of 60 SP/kg. Though most Syrian poultry
producers are operating at a loss, they remain optimistic
that selling prices will increase and thus continue at
current production rates to ensure sizable future flocks.

5. (SBU) Though the U.S. does not export poultry products to
Syria, it is possible that a continued ban on all live, raw,
and frozen poultry into Syria could hinder transit shipments
to neighboring countries like Iraq. Syria does not have
freezing and cold-storage facilities in the ports of Tartous
or Lattakia and could not serve as a major transit point for
poultry shipments. However in recent weeks a poultry
supplier sought to ship poultry to Iraq from a port in
Turkey via Syria, and post believes suppliers in Lebanon
could pursue similar transit routes in the future.

SECHE

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