Syria’s Economy Minister, Mohamad Imadi, declared at a conference on Lebanese-Syrian banking cooperation that Lebanese banks are well positioned to play a leading role when Syria allows commercial banks to operate in the country. He said the Syrian Parliament is studying a draft law that would authorize private banks to operate in the Syrian market and provide a wide range of retail and commercial services, adding that the draft law was sent to the Central Bank of Lebanon for review.
Banque du Liban et d’Outre-Mer, Fansabank, Société Générale Libano-Européenne de Banque, and Banque Européenne pour le Moyen-Orient (BEMO) already have received permission to operate in Syria’s free zones. Byblos Bank, Bank of Beirut and the Arab Countries and Crédit Libanais are also in talks with the General Organization for Free Zones (GOFZ) to obtain licenses. Mr. Imadi said that Syria wants to benefit from the experience of Lebanese banks, especially in consumer and retail services. He added that Syria had asked the Lebanese Central Bank and the Banking Control Commission to help in the supervision of the banks operating in the free zone.
The banking sector in Syria has been under state control for the past four decades and lacks the basic financial products of a modern economy such as loans, teller machines and credit cards. Total deposits in the Syrian banking sector stand at about $5 billion compared to more than $36 billion in Lebanon. — (Lebanon Invest)