Cellphone smuggling forces ‘Emmatel’ to slash prices in Syria

Last week, mobile phone prices in Syria fell in value at Emmatel stores, which fully control the mobile phone sector.

According to what Enab Baladi Under surveillance, the company has lowered its prices on all devices sold in its showrooms by at least 30% compared to the price set by the company since the introduction of mobile.

Since the price drop, the company has repeatedly reposted an article in which it wrote, “We’ve slashed prices on all devices with an Emmatel warranty.”

Emmatel controls the mobile market in areas held by the regime and is the only company capable of importing mobiles of all kinds.

Mukhles al-Ahmad, owner of a mobile store in Homs, said Enab Baladi that Emmatel owned the entire market and put al-Buraq Telecoms out of competition, limiting Mabco’s work to the maintenance business only so that it remained the only company to own showrooms and mobile stores in all governorates.

Mukhles argues that opening the door to mobile phone clearances (customs) via the two telecom companies “Syriatel and MTN has caused Emmatel to lose its ability to monopolize the market and created a parallel market that has run out of control.

The customs duty of each device is determined by the popular price in the world, which is determined by a pricing system, after which the customs value is calculated. The customs value is between SYP 80,000 for lower spec phones and around SYP 4 million for high spec ones.

Contraband cell phones at competitive prices are flooding the market

Lebanon is the gateway for contraband to Syria through the border with the regions of al-Qusayr and Tal Kalakh in the southern countryside of Homs. Mobiles are the most important goods smuggled through these routes.

Cell phones are released to the market after being declared by the two telecommunications companies and having paid the imposed fees or having subjected them to their own process of jailbreaking via “root” programs which modify the IMEI of the device to be able to operate Syrian SIM cards. It is then put on the market at prices much lower than those of Emmatel.

Khaled, a trader of contraband cellphones, recounted Enab Baladi that smuggling motives forced Emmatel to slash prices after flooding the markets.

Khaled added that Emmatel was betting on the Damascus market, which is tightly controlled by the regime’s government. However, contraband devices have also arrived in Damascus recently, prompting the company to cut prices.

Khaled said the company is offering cell phones in its showrooms with a 150% increase over their actual prices, adding that without the smuggled mobiles, all residents of Syria would have been forced to buy their mobiles. at Emmatel.

Emmatel belongs to the Syrian businessman Khader Taher, known as Abou Ali Khader, close to the wife of the president of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad.

Said company was created in early 2019 to import, export and market mobile phones, computers and electronic devices of all kinds and to participate in tenders.

In September 2020, the US Treasury Department placed businessman Khader Taher and business groups he owns, led by Emmatel, on Syria’s sanctions lists.