Syria has banned most imports except raw materials and grains, local businessmen said on Saturday, in a move to preserve foreign currency reserves as pressure grows from a popular rebellion and Western sanctions against Syria's rulers.
The government decreed on Thursday that all imports carrying a tariff over 5 percent were banned, according to businessmen and traders in Damascus who were contacted by Reuters.
This means imports of most foreign goods, from electrical goods to cars and luxury items.
The ban suggests that Syria is feeling the effect of foreign sanctions intended to put pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to end a six-month military crackdown that has killed 2,700 people, according to United Nations estimates.
On Saturday, the European Union imposed sanctions on Syria's main mobile phone operator Syriatel and its largest private company, Cham Holding.