An increasing number of businesses have been fleeing Syria as it has become increasingly obvious that the conflict will be sustained for a long period of time. Part of the reason businesses have been able to relocate so quickly is the fact that they have low physical infrastructure and have become accustomed to quickly moving around to sidestep violent conflict. The more profitable domestic industries of textiles and food processing were worth several billion dollars, at least before the crisis began two years ago.
Egypt is now the destination of choice for many of Syria’s former entrepreneurs, due to its low living costs, casual visa regulations, skilled workforce, and low labor costs. The Egyptian government has even gone as far as to formulate a Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade, and has set up a unit specifically to engage with Syrian businessmen and was seeking to create a “Syrian industrial area.”
With the migration of physical and financial capital from Syria, it looks as if the country is destabilizing in more ways than one. With jobs drying up, many citizens take to the streets to protest what they see as failed governmental policies designed to promote commerce. Does this sound the death knell for the al-Assad regime? It could very well mean that the influx of commerce to Egypt could sway the support of the Egyptian government in favor of the emigrants, which could increase the pressure on the regime to dissolve or otherwise absolve power. The United States government’s stance on the uprising has been clear, and Egypt’s new President Morsi could curry favor by joining the cause.