11:09 GMT +319 January 2020
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    Syrian Prime Minister said that Syria is ready to become a center for the promotion of Russian products in Middle Eastern markets.

    DAMASCUS (Sputnik) Syria is ready to become a center for the promotion of Russian products in Middle Eastern markets, Syrian Prime Minister Wael Nader Halqi told Sputnik.

    "We would like Syria to be considered not only within its geographical boundaries or its relatively limited economic market, but as a center for the expansion and promotion of companies and industrial products in the entire Middle East region. Syria with its geographical advantages is capable of becoming a developed commercial and industrial center for Russian companies in the markets of the Middle East," the prime minister said.

    In July, the Syrian prime minister told Sputnik that Moscow and Damascus were in talks about the possibility of Syria acceding to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and its customs free zone. A representative from the Eurasian Economic Commission, the EEU executive body, confirmed that the talks about a common free trade regime would only start after the end of Syria's civil war.

    Syria's trade with Russia is recovering, with Syrian exports to Russia surpassing 2015 levels in the first quarter of 2016 alone, Syrian Prime Minister said.

    "According to Ministry of Economy and Trade data, in the first quarter of 2016, Syria exported twice as much to Russia as it did in all of 2015, which indicates the start of the restoration of balance in the trade between the two countries," Halqi said.

    Given the crisis in Syria, the exact trade volume is not as important as the consistent flow of goods between the two countries, as well as the quality of goods traded, he added.

    Syria has faced difficulties in maintaining its foreign trade since the outbreak of civil war. The European Union imposed sanctions on Syria in 2011. The measures include trade restrictions, as well as personal travel bans and asset freezes on certain Syrian officials. The country and its government have also been targeted by sanctions imposed by the Arab League, the United States and Turkey.

    "So far, our mutual trade experience is still at an embryonic level, and some time is needed to study markets and modify businesses to become compatible with market demands," the prime minister noted.

    Damascus supports Russian companies' participation in the field of communications and high technologies in Syria, Wael Nader Halqi said.

    "Russian companies have chances to invest in this sphere. We welcome this cooperation with Russian companies," Halqi said.

    According to Halqi, Syria and Russia are likely to cooperate in the field of infrastructure for data centers and production of communications devices in demand in the Syrian market.

    "Russian companies have the experience, knowledge and technical ability to provide these services, have channels of contact between the Ministry of Communications of Syria, its various divisions and Russian firms. We, in turn, provide all possible support and encourage this cooperation," the prime minister said.

    In 2015, the Russian Ministry of Communications held a number of meetings with representatives of Syria and expressed its intention to continue cooperation in the field of public administration automation despite the conflict in Syria.

    Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011, with forces loyal to President Bashar Assad fighting several opposition factions and extremist groups, including the Islamic State, which is outlawed in Russia, United States and several other countries.


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    Middle East, goods, Wael Nader Halqi, Syria, Russia
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