Economy, Business And Markets

Economic Cooperation Talks With Syria

When the war ends, Syria—like Iraq—will have immense reconstruction needs.When the war ends, Syria—like Iraq—will have immense reconstruction needs.

Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis and Iranian deputy economy minister, Farhad Zargari, in a meeting in Damascus on Wednesday discussed ways to expand cooperation, namely in the economic spheres.

“We are eager to increase our economic cooperation with Iran,” IRNA quoted Khamis as saying. Zargari said Iran is ready to help rebuild the war-ravaged Arab country.

One market Iran is hoping to benefit from in the future is Syria. When the war ends, Syria—like Iraq—will have to be rebuilt from scratch.

In the past it was hard to presume private businesses in Iran would ponder investing in Syria, a market of 23 million people that is all but cut off from global trade because of international sanctions and the bloody war that has engulfed the Arab country for the past five years.

Iranians have already started to look at the prospects for reconstruction work  in the Middle East country.

Iran and Syria have had a strategic alliance ever since the Iraq–Iran war (1980-1988), when Syria helped Iran fight the Iraqi invasion, aggression and occupation. Trade between the two countries took a new turn in the wake of militancy in Syria. In a show of support for Damascus in its battle against the insurgents, Tehran agreed in 2013 to open a new line of credit for the Syrian government enabling it to meet shortages of food and energy and provide assistance for reconstruction.

Although bilateral political ties were initially thought to give an edge to  commercial interaction, trade exchange is still trivial. However, statistics show Iran’s exports to Syria are on the rise.

Iran exported $149 million worth of goods to Syria during the past Iranian year that ended in March, posting a 45% rise over the preceding year. In return, it imported goods worth $7.8 million, which shows a 22% decline,  according to the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.

IRICA data shows Iran exported more than 9,000 tons of non-oil goods valued at $91.5 million to Syria during the first four months of the current Iranian year (March 20-July 21) -- a four-fold rise in value compared to the similar period a year before. Chemicals, electronic parts, pharmaceuticals, auto parts, baby formula and faucets were among the main exports.

Meanwhile, Iran imported more than 965 tons of goods worth $2.9 million  from Syria during the four-month period, registering a year-on-year slide of 1.4%. The main imports included olive oil, olives, apparel, yarn and fabrics.