Posted by Joshua on Saturday, September 25th, 2010
Abdullah Dardari, Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, said while visiting France, that Syria expected to attract $55 Billion in Investment Over 5 Years. This number is more reasonable than the 77 billion that the Oxford Business Group said the Assad government expected to attract over five years in July.
In February 2009, Dardari said,
“Syria’s infrastructural needs are estimated to cost 50 billion dollars over the next 10 years. In addition, Syria needs to build some 200,000 residential units within five years; it must construct some 40,000 additional hotel rooms by 2015 in order to accommodate the expected 8 million tourists by that year.
In June of this year, President Assad said that Syria “hopes to attract $44 billion in private investment over the next five years.”
The most recent development in the country’s banking sector came at the end of July when President Bashar al-Assad issued Decree No. 56, allowing investment banks to enter the market. The decree comes as Syria looks to raise SYP 2,350bn (USD 50bn) in infrastructure investments over the next five years.
“Investment banks will stand as… a way to secure sources of funding needed to finance huge projects,” Adib Mayaleh, governor of the Central Bank of Syria (CBS), told Syria Today. He added that he had already held discussions with a number of European firms interested in entering the market.
How reasonable is it for Syria to expect to raise $50 bn in five years or $10 bn a year?
Let’s look at Syria’s Foreign Direct Investment history. Dardari told reporters today in Paris that investment in Syria this year will reach $2.5 billion.
He said the country’s economy will grow at about 5.8 percent this year and an average of 5.5 percent to 6 percent over the next five years.
If Syria does attract 2.5 bn foreign investment this year, it will be a big jump and put Syria in league with Morocco and Tunisia – See this graph of DRI for Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria, here.
According to the Syrian Investment Agency, about US$1.19bn were invested by foreigners in the country in 2008. Despite the global economic slowdown, the volume of FDI increased by 32.2% last year (up from US$898m in 2007 and from US$613m in 2006).
2009 FDI Syria – Syria attracted USD 1.5 billion in foreign direct investments in 2009, according to a report by the Arab Investment and Export Credit Guarantee Corporation.
Here is the history
(2.50 ? 2010)
The neighbors attracted the following amount of FDI last year.
Even Dardari knows that to go from 2 billion to over 10 billion by next year will be difficult if not impossible.
“We know we need a big leap forward to attract this investment,” Dardari said. “We know that there are many things we have to do in terms of financial markets and protectionism.” Legislation will be introduced or amended on public procurement, independent electrical generation, investment banking, leasing, mortgage financing, central bank independence and local credit guarantees, Dardari said. Syria is also considering starting an export guarantee program.
“Even with all these changes, we have a long way to go,” Dardari said. “A competitive economy is a mindset, a new way of seeing things. This is the real challenge. But the political determination is unquestionable. There is no going back.” …..
The newly released “corruption perception index” ranks Syria 126 out of 180 (Lebanon and Libya at 130 with Yemen at, 154 Iran at 168 and Iraq and Sudan at 176). Somalia was the dead last. Impressive was the ranking of Qatar at 22 (ahead of France!). Another noteworthy country was Jordan at 49, beating Turkey (at 61) and Italy (at 63).
Syria is negotiating a free-trade agreement with the Mercosur trade bloc, which includes Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil, Dardari said. The country has a free-trade agreement
with Turkey and an interim agreement with Iran. Capital Intelligence and the International Monetary Fund have said the government should focus on implementing changes that would quicken its transition to a market-based economy. The IMF forecasts that Syria’s economic growth will rise to 5 percent in 2010 from 4 percent last year.
[SYR] Syria raises petrol prices 10%
The Syrian government has announced a 10% rise in petrol prices following a spike in consumption and rising cost of subsidising other fuels, Reuters has reported. The government has steadily raised petrol prices in the last several years but this has not cut consumption as decade-long bans on importing cars were lifted and car buying spiked. Unlike gas oil and fuel oil, petrol is not subsidised in Syria, which produces 380,000 barrels per day of crude oil but does not have enough refining capacity to meet domestic needs.
Syria Looks to Russia as Sanctions Hit Plan to Buy Airbus
2010-09-24, By Gregory Viscusi and Massoud A. Derhally
Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) — Syria is in talks with Russia about buying planes as U.S. sanctions have stalled negotiations to buy as many as 50 Airbus SAS aircraft, said Abdallah Dardari, the deputy prime minister for economic affairs. “I’m looking for planes with less than 10 percent of U.S. components,” Dardari told reporters today in Paris. “That leaves only Russia. We’ve spoken about it with President Dmitry Medvedev. We are in negotiations.”
Dardari said in an August 2008 interview that Syria plans to modernize the fleet of its state-run carrier, Syrian Arab Airlines. The airline had sought to buy single-aisle Airbus A320s as well as twin-aisle A330, A340 and A350 models. It had planned to lease four planes and then take delivery of the first 14 Airbus airliners from 2010 to 2018 and a further 36 by 2028.
Idaf points out that Syrian identity in the Golan is growing and points us to this article: The changing generations of Syrians in Israel by Benjamin Joffe-Walt.
A Syrian Kurd has been sentenced to three years in jail in Spain for throwing a shoe at Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Next door in Italy, police seized a large amount of explosives that were headed for Syria.
Italian police have seized seven tons of the powerful RDX explosive which they found in a shipping container they believe were likely destined for a terrorist organization. While the origin and destination of the contraband is still being …
A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent. “Mustaheel,” (impossible) has become the typical refrain of young Syrians asked about their plans to move out of the house. Exorbitant real estate prices and limited …
Syrians agree to disagree on pros and cons of traditional marriage in modern society.
Syrians divided over traditional marriages
By Jennifer Mackenzie & Mayar Mnini – DAMASCUS
It was a typical beginning to a traditional marriage: a beautiful girl was spotted at a swimming pool by the mother of an eligible young man. After all, according to tradition, it is the groom’s mother who finds an appropriate wife for her son, visiting the potential bride’s family house to look for signs of her class, cleanliness, and cooking abilities, and accompanying the girl to a Turkish bath to check her beauty and fitness.
So when the girl, a student at Damascus University, climbed out of the pool, a hopeful mother approached her and asked if she was looking for a husband. Then the story veered from its time-honored course: the girl rejected the whole scenario and walked away upset.
“It’s ridiculous,” she said, recounting the event to her friends, also university students, who laugh and agree. From a section of society that is well-educated and well-traveled, their ideas about how they want to marry differ markedly both from those of their parents and of many of their contemporaries. And their growing sense of independence, or at least questioning, is re-shaping marriage practices in Syria.
Jewish and Palestinian Syrians living in peace in Old Damascus
Real friendships remain between some Syrians, emigrated Jewish community that left Syria.
By Julian Weinberg – DAMASCUS
Faisal and Musa are drinking tea, laughing, and reminiscing about old times in Musa’s antique shop in Old Damascus. Musa has just returned from America, where he now lives, and one of the first things he did after catching up with his relatives was to invite Faisal to his family’s house for dinner. That was last night, and the two of them are still giggling about their memories. Faisal is Palestinian, and Musa Jewish.
On the surface, this seems a striking incompatibility in the region, an effect of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This has never stopped these two Syrians from having a very close friendship. “Every day we have a story,” said Musa, “ you know, we used to go to the Sheraton Hotel to drink every night,” he continued, as Faisal, laughed on a drag of his cigarette, choking slightly.
Although most of Syria’s Jewish community has emigrated and the estimated number of Jews still living in Syria is between 25 and 200, they were not forced to leave after the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. This led to the development of real friendships that both sides, Syrian and the emigrated Jewish community, recount with fondness and sorrow….
Negotiations between Syria and Israel have reportedly come close to a final agreement, but are currently stalled despite international encouragement, since the new Israeli government took power. However, there have been reports over the last few years that some from Syria’s US-based Jewish community would like to play a role one day in bringing the two nations together. “I’m looking forward to peace and when everyone comes together and lives in peace,” lamented Musa. “My mother stills says she will return home,” added Faisal.
US and Iran favour Maliki as Iraq PM six months after polls
by Assad Abboud Assad Abboud – Tue Sep 7
BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has the backing of Washington and US arch-foe Iran to keep his job, six months after he narrowly lost an election to ex-premier Iyad Allawi, politicians said Tuesday.
The United States has consistently denied having any favoured candidate for the premiership but amid growing impatience for a new government in Baghdad it now sees Maliki as the conflict-wracked country’s only viable leader.
A grave fear that Allawi will “re-Baathify” Iraq, bringing former allies of Saddam Hussein back to power, has also led its Shiite parties, with close ties to Iran, to accept Maliki, despite scepticism about his character and ability.
Maliki’s State of Law Alliance, a Shiite grouping, gained two fewer seats in the election than Iraqiya, a broadly secular coalition with strong Sunni backing led by Allawi, a Shiite.
But neither man has managed to gain a working parliamentary majority despite months of coalition negotiations, leaving the nation’s politics in limbo amid growing public frustration at the lack of progress.
There have been 56 national elections or referendums worldwide, according to IFES (the International Foundation for Electoral Systems), since Iraqis voted in the parliamentary poll on March 7.
The impasse has led US officials, anxious to avoid further delays that could potentially cause Iraq’s fledgling democracy to unravel, to seek a Maliki-led government that gives a prominent role to Allawi.
A senior State of Law official said Maliki received assurances during US Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visit that major neighbouring Arab countries, except Saudi Arabia, had decided to stop backing Allawi’s premiership hopes.
“Maliki was quoting Biden as saying, ‘Iraqiya has many problems and complexities… I told Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar and United Arab Emirates to end their support for Allawi,'” the official said Biden told Maliki.
“‘They were all convinced except Saudi Arabia,'” he quoted the vice president as saying.
Netanyahu Says Golan Wind Farm a ‘National’ Project
By Sally Bakewell
Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) — Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave “national infrastructure project” status to a $400 million wind farm on Israel’s Golan Heights, clearing it for fast-track approval by regulators.