An Arab-American trade centre for the Middle East will be established in the free zone in Damascus, a Syrian newspaper reported earlier this week.
Branches for the centre could be opened in other Arab countries to promote the trade exchange between the Middle East and the United States, Al-Thawara reported, quoting director of the centre Zakariya Khalaf, who visited Syria recently.
Despite US economic sanctions to isolate Syria, the centre will provide trade services, information, market opportunities and consultations for Arab and US companies, Khalaf told the newspaper. Economic sanctions, he added, are symbolic, but they imply a political message to the region in general and Syria in particular.
Trade exchange between Syria and the US amounts to $700 million annually, concentrated mainly in US imports of oil products in return for very limited Syrian imports from the US. There have been no direct flights between Damascus' and Washington for decades.