By Ebrahim Fallahi

Iran, Syria to draw a roadmap for realizing trade potentials

May 30, 2022 - 14:14

TEHRAN - Iran-Syria Joint Chamber of Commerce held an Iran-Syria business forum at the place of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA) in Tehran on Monday, in which representatives of the two countries’ private sectors exchanged views on ways of expanding trade ties and removing barriers.

The event was attended by senior officials from both sides including ICCIMA Head Gholam-Hossein Shafeie, Syrian Ambassador to Tehran Shafiq Dayoub, Head of Iran-Syria Joint Chamber of Commerce Keyvan Kashefi, Secretary of Iran-Syria Economic Relations Development Headquarters Abbas Akbari, Head of the Syrian-Iranian Joint Chamber of Commerce Fahd Mahmoud Darwish, and President of the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Commerce Mohamed Abou El-Hoda El-Lahham.

Opening the ceremony, ICCIMA Head Shafeie welcomed the Syrian delegation to Iran and expressed satisfaction with the holding of such events as a prerequisite for the expansion of economic ties between the two friendly countries.

He pointed to his visit to Syria in November 2021 and noted that since then several positive steps have been taken by the two sides for removing barriers in the way of trade relations.

“Our efforts are aimed at increasing the level of economic exchanges between the two countries to the level of political relations,” Shafeie stressed.

Although over the past few years the conditions have been improved for the development of the relations between the two sides, there is still a long way ahead to reaching the desired economic relations, he said.

Drawing a roadmap for economic cooperation

The official called on the governments of the two countries to take practical steps in order to resolve the issues that the traders of the two sides are currently facing and said: “In order to develop economic exchanges we need to create a comprehensive roadmap to clear the outlook of economic cooperation between the two countries.”

“Our plan is to increase the level of mutual trade to $1 billion in the first phase, and realizing this goal requires the strong presence of the Iranian private sector in Syrian markets,” he said.

The ICCIMA head further made some suggestions for increasing the level of trade between the two countries under the framework of the mentioned roadmap.

According to Shafeie the priority for interactions between the private sectors of Iran and Syria should be the reconstruction of Syria’s infrastructure.

Cooperation in areas like industry and agriculture, close collaboration between the two countries’ chambers of commerce, extraterrestrial cultivation, holding joint exhibitions, and exchanging delegations were among the suggestions for boosting trade ties between the two nations.

Iranian private sector ready to take part in Syrian projects

Shafeie further expressed the Iranian private sector’s readiness for participation in major infrastructure projects in Syria and noted that Iranian companies are ready to collaborate with their Syrian counterparts and also with the Syrian government in all areas including infrastructure, industry, agriculture, establishing joint ventures, exports of technical and engineering services, etc.

Tehran, Damascus should join hands to nullify sanctions

Further in the forum, Syrian Ambassador to Tehran Shafiq Dayoub delivered a speech, in which he stressed Iran and Syria’s great political relations and the determination of the two country’s leaders for expanding relations in other areas like trade as well.

He mentioned the long history of relations between the two countries and said Iran and Syria have been friends for so long and now that both nations are facing unjust sanctions, they must join hands to neutralize these sanctions.

He welcomed Shafeie’s suggestion for creating a practical roadmap for the expansion of trade ties between the two countries and said: “We hope that the outcomes of this business forum would be documented in the form of a general roadmap for boosting economic relations between the two sides.”

Syria welcomes Iranian private sector in all areas

Elsewhere in his remarks, Dayoub noted that the Syrian government welcomes the participation of Iranian companies in all areas and will take all the necessary measures to remove the obstacles and facilitate their activities in the Syrian market.

“We are ready to cooperate with the Iranian private sector to find solutions for removing barriers and neutralizing the impacts of the U.S. sanctions,” he said.

Syria’s new trade-related regulations and laws provide a great basis for the activities of the Iranian companies in the country, so Iranian companies active in various areas can participate in projects like transportation, infrastructure, power plants, transit, maritime, etc.

Need for turning theory into practice

Secretary of Iran-Syria Economic Relations Development Headquarters Abbas Akbari for his part emphasized the need for turning such theoretical solutions and ideas into practice and said: “Over the past few years we have signed numerous agreements and memorandums of understanding, however in practice not much has been done.”

The necessary infrastructure for increasing trade between the two countries has not been provided yet and Iranian traders and businessmen are facing numerous problems with their activities in Syria.

One major problem is the imbalance of imports and exports and the lack of enough foreign currency in Syria for settling Iranian export dues.

“There is not enough foreign currency (mainly U.S. dollar and Euro) in Syria to pay for Iranian exports and also Syria does not have much to export to Iran in return (under barter trade mechanisms),” Akbari regretted.

So, the main solution to this problem is for the Iranian and Syrian private sectors to establish joint production units in order to produce new products in Syria and then export it to third countries and earn the needed foreign revenues, he suggested.

Iran, Syria trade should not be limited to bartering

Before attending the business forum, Shafeie had also held a meeting with the Syrian delegation in which he said: “The chambers of commerce of the two countries need to formulate a long-term strategic plan for the development of economic relations, and the problems in the field of transportation and customs tariffs should be taken into account in this regard."

The two sides stressed that the trade relations between the two countries should go beyond only bartering goods.

EF/MA

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