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Syria a promising destination for M’sian firms: envoy

Posted on: May 30, 2009

By From Muin Abdul Majid Bernama – Saturday, May 30

DAMASCUS, May 29 (Bernama) — Malaysian companies should consider taking part in Syria’s economic development in a big way, leveraging on the reservoir of goodwill shown by Syrians towards the country.

According to Malaysian Ambassador to Syria, Datuk Ibrahim Abdullah, the Syrians wanted to model their country’s development along the lines of what Malaysia had done. “They feel that there are a lot of similarities between Malaysia and Syria, and they have admiration for the level of development that we’ve achieved within a short period of time,” he said in an interview with Bernama. Melaka-born Ibrahim became ambassador to Syria in August 2008.

He was the Malaysian High Commissioner to Nigeria from 2003 to 2005. Malaysian companies are currently involved in several initiatives in this Middle Eastern country of 20 million people, including a €40 million (€1=RM4.84)

renovation of Damascus International Airport. Weida Bhd is building five water treatment plants in Syria, the first of which is scheduled for completion in October 2009. The total value of the project is €45 million. Negotiations on the terms of contract are ongoing for a €47 million project to build a water and solid waste treatment plant in Adra Industrial City near here. “We’re providing the financing. All three projects are being financed by Exim Bank Malaysia,” he said.

Ibrahim said AirAsia Bhd had held preliminary discussions with the Syrian authorities on the possibility of making Damascus a Middle Eastern hub for the budget airline. The envoy said talks involving Malaysian companies were also ongoing over plans to build a car park facility and a highway.

In addition, Ibrahim said, Marditech Corp Sdn Bhd had completed a study on post-harvest management, and had forwarded some proposals to its Syrian partners. The envoy said Syria, whose main exports included crude oil, petroleum products, fruits and vegetables, cotton fibre, clothing, meat and live animals as well as wheat, should identify its niches and focus on these sectors as the country moved to develop itself. “As it is now, Syria is the food basket for the region. So they should strive to further develop the agriculture sector. They should capitalise on their niche. “And I also think that they can leapfrog their development by pushing information communication technology to the forefront,” he said.

Bilateral trade between Malaysia and Syria stood at about US$120 million (US$1=RM3.47) last year, with Malaysia’s main exports to this country being manufactured items, electronic goods and palm oil.

Syria exported mainly agricultural products to Malaysia. The envoy advised Malaysian companies eyeing business ventures in Syria to be prepared for what lies ahead. “They would have to really do their homework. Come here with the spirit of wanting to share our experience and expertise with the Syrians.

“That’s very important,” he said. — BERNAMA MAM THS


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