EghtesadOnline: Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis invited Iranian companies to invest in his country in a meeting between secretary of Iran’s Headquarters for Expanding Economic Ties with Iraq and Syria Hassan Danaeifar in Damascus last week.
“Iran is very competent in many economic fields, including industry and urban development,” Khamis was quoted as saying by IRNA as saying on Tuesday.
Danaeifar also met with Syrian businesspeople and traders on Monday where he emphasized the need to expand economic and commercial interactions on top of the congenial political and cultural ties between the two countries.
An Iranian economic delegation headed by Deputy Minister of Roads and Urban Development Amir Amini visited the Syrian capital Damascus last month, according to Financial Tribune.
The two sides touched upon the issues of reconstruction of Syria's infrastructures battered by years of war on terrorists as well as cooperation in the fields of customs, banking, industry, information technology, creation of SMEs and energy.
Upon the delegation’s arrival, Assistant Economy Minister for Economic Development and International Relations Rania al-Ahmad said investors and industrialists from Iran intend to have an important role in the reconstruction of Syria, expressing hope that negotiations would lead to Iran’s effective presence in the process of Syria’s reconstruction.
The three-day visit came after Syrian Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade Mohammad Samer al-Khalil discussed with a host of top Iranian officials prospects of bilateral economic cooperation in Tehran in June.
“Iran will be the main partner in the reconstruction process,” Al-Khalil said in the Iranian capital.
“The current stage is decisive for Syria and Iran, and we are on the threshold of the phase of rebuilding Syria and take advantage of the expertise of Iranian companies in this domain.”
The Syrian capital hosted the 60th Damascus International Fair earlier this month. More than 1,700 domestic and foreign companies from 48 countries participated in the exhibition. Iranian as well as Russian companies dominated the event.
The future of Syria became a battleground issue for the US, Russia and Iran on Wednesday during a heated discussion at the United Nations, Abu Dhabi-based newspaper The Nation wrote.
Russia and Iran want the UN to fund a portion of the $400 billion needed to rebuild the shattered country after seven years of conflict.
Although Russia, Iran and China have made investments in Syria, they cannot afford the cost of reconstruction alone without financial support from the international community.
However, the US and its western allies have said they will not approve such funding for areas of the country controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or drop sanctions against the Syrian government.
Russia said western requirements for financial assistance were “unacceptable”, while Iran said reconstruction funding is needed “now”.
The EU has also ruled out providing funding to areas of the country still ruled by Assad.
An article recently published in Al-Monitor has reviewed Iran's economic forays into Syria: Large-scale agreements between the two sides during official visits, as well as specific measures, such as using national currencies in Tehran-Damascus transactions; engaging in joint ventures; and encouraging Baghdad's involvement as an equal partner, which could be achieved by merging the three countries' railroads into one system.
Iranian Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri and the Syrian economy and foreign trade minister discussed the railroad project during a meeting in June.
In August, another Iranian delegation visited Syria to discuss the construction of 30,000 residential units in Syria by private Iranian companies.
Later that month, Amir Hatami, Iran’s minister of defense, met his counterpart to negotiate the supply of military equipment to Syria and the revival of industries.
Damascus is interested in reaping as many benefits as possible from any helping hand. However, Iran and Russia—both under international sanctions—do not have adequate means to get through this process on their own.
The best course of action might be a mutual diplomatic effort to prompt European officials and corporations to share the burden of Syria’s reconstruction. That would help boost strategic cooperation that some in Moscow and Iran like to talk about, the Al-Monitor article concluded.