Foreign port operator to quit Syria as civil war worsens

Monday, 7 January 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Philippines-based International Container Terminal Services (ICTS) is pulling out of operating Syria’s Tartous container port in another sign of trade being hit by the worsening violence of the country’s civil war.

ICTSI, which signed a 10-year agreement in 2007 with Syria to operate and manage the container terminal at Tartous, said it had withdrawn all of its Filipino employees from the country.

Western sanctions imposed on President Bashar al-Assad, a worsening currency crisis and a growing exodus of foreign companies, as well as the violence in which the UN says more than 60,000 have died, have taken their toll on Syria’s economy.

“The Syrian civil war is escalating, exposing everyone, both combatants and civilians, to increasing threats of death and destruction every day,” ICTSI said in a statement.

“ICTSI ... has announced the pull-out of its business in the Syrian Arab Republic due to the civil war ... and the resulting untenable, hostile and dangerous business environment.”

Port officials were not immediately available for comment. An ICTSI official, asked about its exit, told Reuters: “The terminal is already being run by Syrians ... There is a transition period to turn it over properly. It’s not more than one month.”

Tartous is also home to other commercial port facilities which have berths for dry bulk and general cargo vessels, all vital for bringing in consumer goods, foodstuffs and commodities.