Turkey announces new sanctions against Syria
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Turkey announced a new set of sanctions against Syria on Wednesday, a move that marks a significant deterioration in the relationship between the two former allies over Syria's deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
AFP - Turkey announced on Wednesday a new set of sanctions against Syria as ties between the two former allies strained further over the Damascus regime's deadly crackdown on opponents.
"We will impose 30 percent tax on goods coming from Syria," Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazici was quoted as saying by the private NTV television.
The Anatolia news agency did not give a precise tax rate but quoted the minister as saying that it would be in compliance with the standards set out by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
"Both they (Syrians) and we are members of the WTO. We will not exceed the standard envisaged by the WTO," Anatolia quoted Yazici as saying.
After suspending a free trade pact with Ankara, Syria began imposing around 30 percent tax on some goods from Turkey, said the minister according to the agency.
The ministry was not immediately available for comment.
On November 30, Turkey announced a raft of punitive sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad's regime for its months-long deadly crackdown on anti-regime protests.
Among the initial measures, Ankara announced an immediate ban on transactions with the Syrian governement and its central bank, as well as a freeze on Syrian government assets in Turkey.
Damascus retaliated by suspending a 2004 free trade agreement reached with Ankara after long negotiations. It also raised import duties at the customs, increased fuel oil prices and delayed truck transports.
"Syria will pay a high cost for these sanctions," Yazici said.
Another measure announced by the minister is a ban on vehicles registered in Syria and over 20 years old.
Turkey has also been seeking alternative routes to bypass Syria for trade with the Middle East.
On Wednesday, Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan said the government was considering three alternative routes through Egypt's Alexandria, Lebanon and Iraq.
"Our Plans A, B, C are all ready," said Caglayan.
Frustrated by Syria's retaliatory measures, Caglayan had also signalled Turkey's additional sanctions could be even more severe.