Syrian, Lebanese Firms Combine Efforts to Stem Free-Trade Agreement
Industrialists in Lebanon and Syria are looking together for new export markets, a move they say reflects increased cooperation stemming from a 1998 free-trade agreement signed by the two countries, said The Daily Star.
According to the paper, the first joint mission for boosting exports will begin in July or August when a delegation of Syrian and Lebanese industrialists visits Nigeria to tap the country’s 120 million market and another 180 million neighboring consumers who shop in Nigeria.
Basil Hamoui, secretary for the Damascus Chamber of Commerce, was quoted by the daily as saying that “we have chosen Nigeria as a launchpad for our joint promotion campaign, because it is home to large Syrian and Lebanese communities.”
The agreement called for reducing import duties on a number of industrial goods by 25 percent a year to reach zero by 2002, it added.
However, the implementation of the agreement has not pleased Lebanese industrialists, who say that numerous hurdles are preventing Lebanon increasing its exports to Syria substantially.
Lebanese exports to Syria in 2000 dropped to a four-year low of $26 million, a 62 percent decrease from 1996’s $70 million, according to the Customs Council. Syrian exports to Lebanon in 2000 increased by 27 percent to $283 million from 1999 – Albawaba.com