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FSCA Stresses importance of Agricultural Trade

DAMASCUS, (ST) - Chairman of the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Agricultural (FSCA), Mohammad Kashto, called for creating an integrated  system of work for the development and promotion of the Syrian food and  agricultural exports and the work to establish a competent body to serve the foreign agricultural trade aiming at removing obstacles concerning Syrian agricultural products and opening new markets through monitoring  the markets around the world.

Mr. Kashto stressed the need to implement the trade agreements signed with countries which  allow their markets to absorb the Syrian agricultural commodities and in a way that  stimulates Syrian agricultural exports and secures the  access to larger markets, negotiation to create a partnership with the producers of organic agricultural products in the world,  the establishment of a strong base that encourages organic farming locally and benefit of this growing agriculture that supports job creation and promote foreign business.

"To develop and promote the trade of commodities, Syrian agricultural, forestry and fishing is considered an essential field, so it must be given a priority as a vital component of the food security and a key factor in creating jobs," he explained.

"The importance of the universities and scientific research centers should pay  more attention to graduate specialized technical staff in agricultural marketing to be  able to deal efficiently with modern scientific methods in the field of agricultural products trade and electronic commerce, " Mr.Kashto pointed out.

He also noted the role exerted by producers, industrialists and artisans working in the sector of  importing agricultural and food products, which contributed to ensure the food security of the country.

He expressed optimism about the reality of the Syrian agricultural and food trade, its exports and imports, explaining they are still "good, despite the exceptional circumstances that prevailed in the country," pointing out that the value of exchanging the annual agricultural commodities estimated at 6,290 billion dollars two years ago, 2,562 billion dollars, the value of the Syrian agricultural exports and  3,728 billion dollar, the value of the  Syrian agricultural imports, according to the World Food and Agriculture Organization, where food currently comprises the backbone of Syrian imports.

Sh. Kh

Deposits of SCB Reach Billion Pounds

DAMASCUS, (ST) - The General Director of the Syrian Commercial Bank (SCB), Ahmed Diab, confirmed that the volume of deposits held by the bank is stable since mid-last year and reached more than 26 percent for the of local liquidity and more than 150 percent of liquidity in foreign currencies according to the international standards,  pointing out that the volume of the bank deposits reached about 324 billion Syrian pounds .

In a statement to SANA he made yesterday, Diab said that the bank had not stopped the practice of his role in the current circumstances experienced by the country, but stopped granting direct loans by Syrian pounds while it continued the issuance of guarantees and financing imports for industrialists, traders and focusing on funding public sector with large sums to ensure necessary materials and essential needs of the citizen.
"The bank is considering the possibility of re-lending amounts of 50 - 100 - 200 -300 thousand Syrian pounds for low-income citizens during the current month," Mr. Diab said.
He also noted to the role of the bank in the difficult conditions where some of its installations  exposed to sabotage and theft by armed terrorist groups and sabotage ATMs which led to the exit from the service in some governorates, stressing that the sabotage did not prevent the bank from continuing to provide its services to citizens.
On the precautionary measures that followed by the bank to maintain public money, Diab explained that the bank follows a conservative policy in the current circumstances in this area and credit processes through directing all branches to reduce as much as possible of the volume of liquidity and non-existence of concentration of capital, minimizing the transfer of funds, the closure of some branches in unsafe areas that help reducing the risks, continuing in providing service and maintenance of public money.

"The bank defined a roof liquidity for each branch and the need for ATMs after a study of the volume of transactions and the transfer of salaries and giving directors of bank the authority to manage liquidity ratio, the transfer process and dispose of these amounts to reduce the risk rate, feed ATMs in safe areas and follow up the implementation of the process permanently, explaining that the bank has currently 200 ATMs at service," Mr. Diab pointed out.

 "The main purpose of the bank is to meet the citizen's satisfaction and provide decent service, especially in light of the current conditions, expressing hope in expanding the services of the bank as they were in the past in line with the evolution of the work of banks in the world," Diab stressed.

As for the agreement credit facility line between the bank and the Export Development Bank of Iran  with a value estimated at one billion dollars, Mr. Diab  explained that it would contribute significantly to the national economy, pointing out that there are a lot of agreements and contracts signed between the two parties in the sectors of electricity, health and oil.

Sh. Kh. 

Industry Ministry's Procedures to Alleviate Crisis Impacts

The Syrian Government has recently issued a ministerial statement on the government's policy to alleviate the negative impacts of the ongoing crisis Syria has been facing. The government demanded every ministry to work out a report on the basic procedures adopted in this connection.

The ministerial statement takes into consideration the negative impacts of the current crisis in Syria on all walks of life and focuses on how to eliminate obstacles hindering the ministries' activities.

Adnan Al- Sukhni, the Industry Minister, said adopting new organizational and administrative procedures to alleviate the impacts of the crisis has become a top priority of each ministry in the light of the exceptional circumstances Syria has been encountering.

He pointed out that the Industry Ministry's report stresses the importance of benefitting from the available potentials to start rehabilitating the infrastructure of the industrial companies and establishments damaged by the foreign-backed armed terrorist groups.

Al-Sukhni underscored that in cooperation with the Regional Planning Commission (RPC), the Industry Ministry worked out a strategy to develop 25 industrial zones distributed in all the Syrian provinces.

The report underlines that the Ministry has spared no effort to cooperate with all trade unions as well as the economic, industrial and services institutions of the private and public sectors to reactivate implementing new projects in all domains.

It necessitates supporting the small and medium-sized industries due to their fundamental role in helping the national economy withstand the current extraordinary circumstances.

The ministry's report points out that an industrial development fund has been established in cooperation with the chamber of industry to serve industrial development.

It also highlights the ministry's keen effort to support vocational training to serve the building and construction sector aiming to rebuild Syria.

The report confirms that a number of joint and government projects are due to be implemented aiming at encouraging stopped industrial facilities to launch alternative activities which can be of great economic feasibility.

Rawaa Ghanam

Cabinet reviews medicine and fuel matters

DAMASCUS,(ST)_Prime Minister, Dr. Wael al-Halqi appeals for immediate translation for what Syria and Iran have agreed upon during the governmental delegation's recent visit to Tehran on the ground.

In the cabinet Tuesday' meeting, al-Halqi asked ministers to follow up the Syrian-Iranian sealed deals especially in the sectors of oil, power, health, finance, and agriculture.

He cited the strong common cooperation between the two countries (Syria and Iran), adding that Iran supports Syria's steadfastness and the political plan based on national dialogue to solve the crisis in Syria.

The cabinet discussed in today's session political, economic and services situation, and approved five bills. It also reviewed requirement of producing national medicine and new mechanism for distributing fuel.

B.Q

Free Zones ... Key Levers of Economy, Resettlement of National Capital

DAMASCUS, (ST) - The government has worked hard in the past years to create new free zones in some governorates, develop, expand the existing areas, provide a well-developed infrastructure and modernize the laws to keep up with legislations governing the free zones in the world and be able to attract local and foreign investments.

The government also is keen, through its own procedures in the free zones, to ensure investment system that allows entering and leaving of products to these areas without any customs duties.
These areas form basic leverages and support to the national economic growth of many countries which explains that most of the conventions and economic blocs which states seek to set up among themselves.

These areas  are granted, according to Deputy Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade, Dr. Hayan Salman, more preferential advantages, including exemption all products from customs duties, even if  a part of them is directed towards the domestic market.

"The free zones can increase exports of technological content and reduce dependence on imports, which leads to improve trade balance, secure foreign exchange, increase cash reserves, improve the balance of payments and treasury revenues and customs duties collected on foreign inputs in the productivity process in addition to running more of the labor force in both of these areas or the surrounding areas, create jobs directly and indirectly, reduce the unemployment rate, increase in per capita income and economic efficiency," Dr. Salman said.

"The free zones play a major role in increasing business investment and resettling of the national capital and enhancing the competitiveness of goods produced nationally, taking into account that the ratio of added value higher or equal to 40 percent of the value of the item according to the r Arab Free Trade Agreement, which entered into force at the beginning of 2005," Dr. Salman added.

According to a report about the results of the work of the General Establishment of Free Zones since the beginning of 2012 until last September of the same year, the value of goods entering and leaving is estimated at 51 billion which represents a retreat from the same period of 2011 and reached 38 percent, which had recorded 118 billion Syrian Pounds
The report shows that the capital invested in this period amounted to $ 712 million with a decline of 11 percent and the number of investors reached to 981with a retreat of 13 percent and the number of foreign companies reached to 76 companies with a decline 5.8 percent while the capital invested for foreign companies amounted $ 88 million, a retreat of 29 percent from the same period in 2011.
The report points out that the decline of these investments was the result of effects of the crisis experienced by the country and the sanctions imposed on it despite the efforts being exerted by the Ministry of Economy in providing facilities and exemptions for investors and exempting investors from interest and penalties.

The General Establishment of Free Zones called for the joint committees to inform  businessmen and investors who have a desire to invest in Syria in general or to  establish private free zones managed by the investor himself that these special zones have full exemption of taxes and fees in addition to the free transfer of capital and profits out of Syria and vice versa with the provision of freedom of technical and specialized labor recruitment, and granting this products in this region a certificate of Syrian origin or an origin of free zone for the manufactured products.
According to Dr. Salman, the expansion in establishing new free zones requires the involvement of the private national sector such as chambers of industry and commerce and making consultations with countries that are linked with economic and trade agreements, such as Iraq and the countries of the Customs Union, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Iran and Latin American countries.
The Deputy Minister pointed out the importance of developing regulations relating to free zones and increasing the areas specialized for this purpose , particularly in the less developed regions, expanding its activities to include aspects of economic work of industry, agriculture and services to turn these areas into centers  that can be supportive of economic takeoff and improving Syrian economic indicators.
He also stressed the need to increase investment rates particularly industrial investments through setting up developed  industrial groups, increasing demand for Syrian raw materials and activating internal demand for goods and services and converting them to industrial goods.

Sh. Kh.