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BRICS summit: new development bank and other vital issues

The BRICS group of countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) will discuss setting up a development bank during the next week’s summit in Durban.“ Our strategic goal is to transform the aging international financial architecture,” said Mikhail Margelov, Russia’s presidential envoy to Africa.

Leaders of the world’s biggest developing economies will discuss the bank’s starting capital, while Russia proposes each side’s contribution of $10 billion.

Before the summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Moscow on March 22-24. He’ll meet with President Vladimir Putin to discuss cooperation within international groups, including the BRICS.

The countries will also talk a possible signing of a partnership agreement between the nations’ stock exchanges and creation of a “virtual pool of reserves” to provide financial support in case of necessity.

Russia suggests strengthening influence of BRICS

Russia suggests strengthening the influence of BRICS that embraces Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The initiative has been formulated in a report prepared by Russian experts for the two-day BRICS summit that will start in Durban on the 26th of March.

Experts insist on the need to setting up a permanent secretariat, originally virtual and then a full-pledged one. Last year, India suggested creating a new development bank. The authors of the report proposed to set up the headquarters of the bank with an authorized capital of $50 billion in Moscow. Last spring, the partners of the BRICS summit in New Delhi decided to trade in local currencies and replace the United States dollar as the main unit of trade between them. In view of this, Russian experts propose to create a bank for international settlements to assure safety to the economies of BRICS member countries from sharp fluctuations of the exchange rate of the dollar and the so-called “currency-wars.” Russian experts have also proposed to set up an anti-crisis fund of $240 billion amidst the second wave of the global financial crisis.

The Russian initiatives are aimed at strengthening integration, says expert at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry Andrei Volodin. The reason here is that at present, economic integration between BRICS member countries is clearly insufficient.

Russian experts in economic integration suggest supplementing it by the joint work in security area. Among these are fighting against the spread of weapons of mass destruction, cybercrimes, drug trafficking and piracy. It has been proposed to admit an Islamic country, Indonesia or Turkey, to upgrade the organization’s humanitarian and inter-civilizational potential.


The report also pays attention to the contradictions within BRICS. Its authors describe territorial disputes between China and India, competition for raw material resources and differences in the approaches towards climate change as time bombs. Russia can use its prestige to convince its partners to ease strain amongst themselves. Co-chairman of the Council for National Strategy Iosif Diskin agrees with the experts.

“Russia’s partners have displayed keen interest in its active economic and foreign policy position and Russia has a unique possibility of multiplying its economic and political influence,” Iosif Diskin said ,Voice of Russia, TASS, Bloomberg.

However, no one should forget that the West sees its rival in BRICS. Consequently, it will try not to give an opportunity to strengthen the five countries on the international scene. The report prepared by Russian experts for the government is aimed at hampering such a development. It will be the basis of the drafting Russia’s national strategy in the framework of BRICS.


Investment Projects at a Cost of 37.6 Bln SP

DAMASCUS, (ST) - Syria has formed an attractive environment for local and foreign investment and investors continued to make requests in various sectors in spite of the country's current crisis. In its annual report for 2012, the Investment Association confirmed that 45 investment projects had enjoyed protection at a total cost estimated at 37.64 billion Syrian Pounds.

The projects were distributed as follows: 36 projects in the investment association, seven projects in al –Raqqa governorate and two projects in the industrial cities.
The projects included the sectors of agriculture, transportation, oil and industry amounted to 26 projects. The agriculture and transportation sectors came in the second place with 9 projects each, while other sectors included one project, the report said.

 Al- Raqqa governorate topped the list in the number of projects with 9 ones, Deir Ezzour 6 projects, Sweida and Damascus Countryside 5 projects, Latakia, Aleppo and Hasaka 4 projects, Damascus and Daraa two projects, Homs, Hama, Tartous and Quneitra one project.

Foreign investment projects are four at an estimated cost amounted to 23.433 billion Syrian Pounds distributed among a Syrian - Turkish joint venture at a cost of 3.936 billion pounds, a Palestinian project at a cost of  19.250 billion pounds, an Iraqi project at a cost of  19.250 billion pounds and a Jordanian project at a cost of 0.055 billion pounds.

The report of the investment association pointed out that projects under implementation and that were granted industrial, agricultural licenses or a temporary license numbered 10 industrial projects and one agricultural project at a total cost estimated at 85.899 billion Syrian Pounds.

The implemented projects until the end of 2012 amounted to 11 projects concentrated in the agricultural and industrial sectors with a total investment cost of 10.2 billion Syrian Pounds. The share of the industrial sector was 10 projects and the agriculture sector was one project.

It is noteworthy that Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade, Mohammed Zafer Mahbaq, was named as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Investment Association under the Legislative Decree No. 69 issued in the previous month. The former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Investment Association was Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Dr, Qadri Jamil.

Sh. Kh.

New Strategy for Development of SMEs

DAMASCUS, (ST)- A plan by Investment Association, for this year, focused on several strategic points. The goal of this strategy aims at attracting  domestic and foreign investments, finding legislative, encouraging environment, simplifying procedures, rehabilitation of human resources and providing scientific data to the investor in order to define the investment environment in Syria, giving great importance to Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) due to their economic and development role, particularly in light of the current circumstances.

A special article concerning this strategy will be specialized in investment law, which is being amended will include features and incentives.

Other government programs supporting for such economic activities as youth employment program and rural woman program and the work to reduce the minimum of the capital of projects through the access under the umbrella of investment,

 It is worth mentioning that the legal structure occupies an essential part within the plan of the Investment Association strategy as a mainstay to attract investment opportunities. The Investment Association seeks to prepare a new investment law     to keep pace with developments and promote investment sectors with comparative advantages and turning it into competitive advantages.

On the other hand, the Investment Association will prepare several studies on the economic feasibility of projects to be launched as investment opportunities, according to the development plans, relative and absolute features for each region with the work to prepare the Special Geographic Atlas, which contains investment opportunities in a manner consistent with the national framework for regional planning in cooperation with the Regional Planning Commission and other concerned bodies.

In order to inform investors on the investment environment in the country,  the Investment Association is working to accomplish the economic, investment annual report containing important information about the investment and the local economy in general through the presentation of scientific needed data, that contribute to provide a clear vision of the prospects of investment with work on the launch of the Foreign Direct Investment ( FDI) in 2010, which eventually leads to the publication of this concept in the effective circle economically and administratively.

With regard to the simplification of the procedures, the Investment Association is following up the works of an engineering team to simplify the business environment and connect the Association electronically to simplify procedures with linking its branches.

The plan included the rehabilitation of its promotional staff through an effective training program and supporting it with experienced and qualified cadres, adopting the policy of case management, activating the external and internal promotion and marketing in cooperation with the businessmen and chambers of commerce, industry and agriculture.

Sh. Kh.

SIA, RPC Reactivate Cooperation

DAMASCUS, (ST) - The Syrian Investment Agency (SIA) and the Regional Planning Commission (RPC) on Sunday signed a memorandum of understanding to reactivate cooperation.

According to the memo, the two sides will exchange information, data and expertise, qualify necessary technical cadre and implement the state's development strategy through directing private and public sectors investment in accordance with a plan aiming to support and enhance partnership between research and planning parties on the one hand and administrative bodies in Syria on the other.

Hala Ghazal, the SIA Director, who highlighted previous successful cooperation with the Planning Commission, said that it is important to have strategic partners in work to achieve integrated results regarding the investment map, stressing that this will help investors choose suitable sites to implement their projects.

For his part, Director of the RPC Arfan Ali said investment needs support and motivation, pointing out that the memo aims at laying the foundation of a joint project between the two commissions to achieve an electronic gate that frames the main features on which investors are to depend to be given the motivations connected with the investment places. He indicated the need to direct investment towards different sectors particularly during the current circumstances in Syria.

The memo helps drawing up a map that contributes to directing investment place motivations based on the availability of resources and elements of development.  

The RPC, according to the memo, is to provide training to cadres from both sides on geographic data system, while the SIA is to organize training workshops on investment and promotion concepts and on the laws which control investment in Syria.

The memo is a framework for cooperation and a reference to all the activities to be implemented based on an agreement between the two sides.


H. Mustafa 

Syria to Buy Ten Planes form Ukraine

DAMASCUS, (ST) - The Cabinet on Tuesday approved the Transport Ministry's request to ratify the contract signed between the Syrian Airlines Establishment and the Ukrainian Antonov Company to buy ten new planes in order to enhance the Syrian airlines fleet.

Transport Minister Mahmoud Saeed said in a statement to journalists following a cabinet meeting that the contract comes within the framework of Syrian Airlines plan to support its fleet and ensure enough planes for internal and external flights.

The establishment is scheduled to receive the first plane in September, added the minister. 

He pointed out that the establishment had requested a specific type of planes with enough capacity and range so as to cope with International aviation systems and achieve best operation.


H. Mustafa