Mohammed Sawah, the head of Syrian Union of Exporters, stated that Syria is participating in the China International Import Expo (CIIE) to look for opportunities to export more olive oil into the Chinese market, as reported by Xinhua on November 7. Sawah also believes that the Chinese economy can act as an exemplary model of economic growth for other developing countries.
It has been over seven years since the start of the Syrian Civil War on March 15, 2011. The UN estimates 400,000 to 470,000 people have died since the beginning of the civil war. The conflict has affected Syria's economy significantly causing them to have a cumulative GDP loss of USD226bn since 2011. Despite the war, Syria's olive oil industry has remained relatively stable. In 2016, Syria exported a total of 20,000 tons of olive oil, amounting to USD81.1m. China generally has not been a massive importer for olive oil, as olive oil only accounted for 1% of all edible oil imports in 2015. However, in the past few years, China's demand for olive has been growing, as Italian olive oil exports to China have increased by over EUR40m in 2017, a 41% growth YoY. According to David Granieri, the president of the largest association of olive oil products in Italy, China's olive oil market is developing and has enormous potential.