EghtesadOnline: Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture hosted an economic forum with representatives of Syria’s private sector led by Samer al-Debs, chairman of Damascus Chamber of Industry, on May 1.
Syria has entered the reconstruction stage after the eight-year-long civil war and needs steel, cement and electricity. Iran’s private sector would be of great help in this regard, Syrian participants said in the event.
The civil war has taken an enormous toll on the Syrian economy and infrastructure, with the cost of war-related destruction estimated by the UN at about $400 billion. As Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has reclaimed most of his country, the Syrian authorities are engaged in rebuilding the country.
The Iranian side said they are ready to carry out joint ventures in a wide range of fields, including technical and engineering services, road and bridge construction, water supply system, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, food industries, agriculture, mining and home appliances, construction materials, transportation and tourism, according to Financial Tribune.
Iranian traders recently voiced their displeasure with high tariffs levied by the Syrian government on imported Iranian goods, IRNA reported, citing Trade Promotion Organization of Iran numbers.
Legal Framework for Reconstruction by Iran, Russia
The Syrian government says it has taken major steps toward providing a legal framework for the construction companies of allied states, Russia and Iran.
According to Syria's Al-Thawrah newspaper, the Damascus government has agreed with Iran to establish Syrian-Iranian companies to build residential complexes and to work with Iranian companies on conducting feasibility studies, designing, planning and executing construction and services projects.
The Russian side will also have a large share in reconstruction and housing services, and strengthen cooperation with Syrian companies in the field of transfer of industries related to these fields. It will introduce and indigenize new technologies in these fields, particularly those related to the excavation and disposal of waste materials, recycling in Syria and will provide engineering equipment.
The Syrian housing sector has also agreed with Russian companies in implementing the joint project (engineering units) in the city of Al-Dimas in northwest Damascus and the Syrian side has paid special attention to using the experience of Russian experts for modernizing production centers and indigenizing them to meet the domestic needs of the country.
As per a memorandum of understanding signed between Iran and Syria recently, the Iranian government is to help Syria with the construction of 200,000 residential units in Damascus.
In January 2017, the Syrian government and Tehran signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate in a phosphate mine in Syria’s Al Sharqiya, one of the largest in the country, located 50 kilometers southwest of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.
The contract allows Iranian companies to undertake phosphate exploration, extraction and investment for the next 50 years. Its current output is unknown, but in 2009, its total production capacity reached 800,000 tons.
In September 2018, Syria and Iran signed several agreements worth $142.5 million.
During a visit to Tehran, the Syrian electricity minister signed two contracts and a memorandum of understanding with his Iranian counterpart. When the deal is implemented, Iranian companies would be involved in the restoration of more than 2,000 MW of power production capacity.
The construction work on the first phase of a highway project that will eventually connect Iran to Syria through neighboring Iraq has already begun.
According to Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami, the Kermanshah-Bisotun-Homeyl Highway is a key step toward linking Iran with its Arab allies Iraq and Syria, and would contribute to the country's economy at a time when it was beset by US sanctions.
Eslami says the private sector will be funding most of the expenses for the construction of this highway, which is an important transit route in completing the east-west transport corridor, adding that the government is determined to grant its full support to private sector investors.
“Kermanshah-Bisotun-Homeyl will be a modern highway enjoying high levels of safety and speed," he said, adding that the project will substantially reduce travel time and fuel consumption, once it comes on stream.
Speaking about the project to build a railroad connecting Iran's Shalamcheh border crossing to the port of Basra in southeast Iraq, Maziar Yazdani, the deputy head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways for infrastructure and technical affairs, said the Shalamcheh-Basra leg of the project will require more than 32 kilometers of new track at a cost of $52,000.
Following the addition, the rail system will cross Iraq to reach Syria's Mediterranean port city of Latakia.
The idea has been kicked around for years, and in August 2018, Iran and Syria expressed their willingness to build a railroad connecting the two countries, along with Iraq, to counter the western sanctions on Iran and boost economic cooperation.
The railroad is part of Syria’s reconstruction deal, which grants Iran additional economic and trade privileges and the opportunity to contribute to the transportation sector, thus promoting religious tourism among Iran, Iraq and Syria.
According to Iranian Deputy Minister of Roads and Urban Development Amir Amini, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum has consented to the project.
“The railroad connecting Iran, Syria and Iraq will ensure an outlet for Iraq via Mediterranean and Iranian ports,” Amer al-Jabiri, media director of the Iraqi Ministry of Transport, was quoted as saying by Al-Monitor.