Tehran and Damascus can increase bilateral trade to between $500 million and $1 billion in two years, said the head of Iran-Syria Joint Chamber of Commerce.
During the past 12 months, the two countries have exchanged over 10 economic delegations, added Keyvan Kashefi in an address to a conference on Syria’s trade opportunities held at the Trade Promotion Organization (TPO) of Iran in Tehran on Tuesday, IRNA reported.
He described lack of sufficient information about the Syrian market as one of the biggest problems faced by Iranian businessmen for expanding presence in the country.
The TPO head noted that developing transportation infrastructure, such as roads, highways and railroads, between the two countries will help Iranian traders to gain access to Syrian market as well as that of other regional nations.
He added that prior to the start of the war in Syria in 2011, oil exports and tourism were the country’s two major sources of revenue.
“The country was Iran’s main rival in Iraqi market.”
He said at present, Iranian firms are involved mainly in projects to develop Syrian infrastructure, reconstruct the country and help boost its energy generation.
“Signing trade agreements between Iran and Syria can accelerate expansion of their economic relations.”
He also said overland transit route from Iran to Syria, which will pass through Turkey, would be more cost effective than the route from the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas.
“The cost involved in sending each shipping container using the sea route stands at $4,000. However, if the overland route is launched, the price of transferring containers from Iran to Syria will be half of the cost of sending them through sea.”
The official noted that trade balance between the countries was $152 million in Iran’s favor in the year to March 2019, adding that Iran’s major export items to Syria include transformers, skeleton frames, medical supplements and active dry yeast.
He listed Iran’s top priority fields for investment in Syria as chemical industries as well as production of base metals and foodstuff.
Speaking at the same conference, Syrian Ambassador to Tehran Adnan Mahmoud said his country seeks to facilitate the presence of the Iranian public and private companies in joint construction and investment projects in his country.
Mahmoud said the way was paved for the contribution of Iranian companies to the implementation of joint projects in Syria.
In the year to March 2019, a strategic long-term agreement was signed between Syria and Iran, focusing on joint investment and cooperation, he added.
The Syrian envoy noted that the two countries have various opportunities for cooperation and investment such as building residential areas, improving their infrastructure, reconstructing the Syrian economy and factories, supplying raw materials to Syrian factories and implementing their free trade agreement.
Currently, the Iranian and Syrian governments are focused on finding a solution for facilitating money transfer between the two countries, Mahmoud said, adding that the central banks of the two sides have signed an MoU with respect to the issue.
Iran and Syria have also put on their agenda the opening of banks in the two countries and establishing a joint bank, he stressed.
The Syrian ambassador added both sides plan to establish overland and sea transportation companies to facilitate commodity exchange.
Mahmoud invited Iranian private companies and investors to build production units in Syria.
Commenting on Syria’s various free and industrial zones, he said the Iranian private sector should have complete information about investment opportunities in these areas.
Mahmoud said the two countries’ joint chamber of commerce can help accelerate economic development in both nations.