Syria is a middle-income country, with an economy based on agriculture, oil, industry, and tourism. As of 2012, Syria's oil and tourism industries in particular have been devastated, with $5 billion USD lost to the ongoing conflict of the civil war. However, Syria's economy faces serious problems and challenges and impediments to growth, including: a large and poorly performing public sector; declining rates of oil production; widening non-oil deficit; widespread corruption; weak financial and capital markets; and high rates of unemployment tied to a high population growth rate. Reconstruction needed due to the ongoing civil war will cost as much as $10 billion USD.
As a result of its political isolation which includes significant economic sanctions from the Arab League, EU and the US, Syria has low rates of investment, and low levels of industrial and agricultural productivity. Syria's GDP declined by over 3% in 2011, and is expected to further decline by over 8% in 2012. The two main pillars of the Syrian economy have been agriculture and oil. Agriculture, for instance, accounts for 17.7% of GDP and employs 17% of the total labor force. Prior to the civil war in 2011, the government hopes ed to attract new investment in the tourism, natural gas, and service sectors to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on oil and agriculture. The government began to institute economic reforms aimed at liberalizing most markets, but those reforms were slow and ad hoc, and have been completely reversed since the outbreak of conflict in 2011. For ideological reasons, privatization of government enterprises is explicitly rejected. Therefore major sectors of the economy including refining, ports operation, air transportation, power generation, and water distribution, remain firmly controlled by the government.
Syria has produced heavy-grade oil from fields located in the northeast since the late 1960s. In the early 1980s, light-grade, low-sulphur oil was