Deal to Implement Syria Reconstruction Projects
EghtesadOnline: Head of Syrian Engineers Syndicate, Ghiath Qattini, and the representative of Iranian Construction Engineering Organization in Tehran on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding for promoting cooperation in the urban, construction and engineering sectors.
The deal provides for exchanging expertise and organizing workshops that serve the upcoming reconstruction and production projects of Syria, SANA reported.
Another MoU was also signed with Khatam al-Anbiya Headquarters Construction Company. It stipulates joint cooperation in construction sector, services and development projects, training cadres, conducting research and holding symposiums to accelerate the wheel of production and economy in Syria.
In a statement following the signing ceremony, Qattini underlined the importance of Syrian-Iranian cooperation in the field of building residential units, services and development facilities and benefiting from the Iranian expertise in science, new technologies, construction and development sectors, Financial Tribune reported.
Meeting members of the Syrian delegation, Syrian Ambassador in Tehran Adnan Mahmoud underlined the importance of this visit in surveying Iranian experiences in urban and infrastructure construction.
He called for upgrading institutional cooperation between Syria and Iran, in addition to setting up integrated work plans, taking concrete steps for implementing urban and development projects, and facilitating the exchange of expertise in investment sector.
Iran’s Strong Presence in Damascus Fair
Earlier in August, in a meeting with Syrian Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade Mohammad Samer al-Khalil in the Syrian capital Damascus, the deputy head of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, Hossein Selahvarzi, said Iran can help Syria accelerate its reconstruction and development projects.
“Iranian organizations, firms and provincial commerce chambers are able to meet Syria’s business needs and help the country implement its reconstruction projects,” he said.
Selahvarzi was visiting Syria and the 59th Damascus International Fair at the invitation of Khalil.
The Iranian trade official urged the Syrian minister to facilitate free trade between Iran and Syria, and appoint a representative to follow related affairs, Inside Syria Media Center reported.
The Syrian minister praised ICCIMA’s role in boosting Iran’s economy and hoped that the experience along with assistance from the country’s private sector would help enhance economic cooperation similar to political ties between the two nations.
The fair was held after a six-year gap due to the Syrian crisis.
With 31 holding companies from the fields of industries, services and commerce, Iran was the biggest participant in the expo. The event opened on August 17 and ran until August 26.
Iran and Syria signed an agreement in Damascus in May to enhance economic cooperation.
According to Syria’s Economy and Foreign Trade Minister Adib Mayyaleh, Syria currently exports close to $1 million worth of goods to Iran annually and imports around $750 million worth of goods in return.
Iranian exports to Syria include chemicals, electronic parts, pharmaceuticals, auto parts, baby formula and faucets. Imports include olive, olive oil, apparel, yarn and fabrics.
New Page in Economic Ties
Earlier in January, Iran signed major economic contracts with Syria in what Tehran and Damascus hailed as “a new page” in economic ties.
Five memorandums of understanding were signed during a visit by Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis to Tehran, including for Iran to operate a mobile phone service in Syria and phosphate mining.
Tehran and Damascus also signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate in a phosphate mine in Syria’s al-Sharqiya.
Syria is among the world’s largest exporters of rock phosphate, a raw material used in the production of phosphatic fertilizers, although the war against foreign terrorists has marred its ability to mine and market its supply.
As per another deal, Syria is to give Iran 5,000 hectares of land for farming and 1,000 hectares for setting up oil and gas terminals.
A deal was also signed on providing land for animal husbandry.
Syria is increasingly indebted to Iran financially: Tehran opened a $3.5 billion credit line in 2013 and extended it by $1 billion in 2015, which economists say has helped keep the Syrian economy afloat.
While in Tehran, the Syrian premier also held a meeting with Ali Akbar Velayati, an adviser on international affairs to the Leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, where the prime minister called for investment in reconstruction projects in Syria, as “the infrastructure has been destroyed by war”.
Tehran has already shown interest in helping Syria rebuild its roads, airports, power stations and ports.
Iranian firms are already involved in a series of electricity projects worth $660 million in Syria.
Iran aims to export electricity to Syria and create the biggest power network in the Muslim world by hooking up Iran’s national grid with those of Iraq and Lebanon.
The Syrian economy is weighed down by divisions and illegal trade networks. But with a return to stability in government-held areas, GDP decline has slowed.
Syria’s GDP contracted last year by just 4% year-on-year, compared with a 36.5% YOY decline in 2013.
The consolidation of territories held by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s troops in the western parts of the country—where about two-thirds of the remaining Syrian population reside—has contributed to the stabilization of its economic sectors.