Syria is seeking to borrow a total of 161 million dollars from Japan and the Islamic Development Bank to finance port expansion and the acquisition of merchant ships, Transport Minister, Makram Obeid, was quoted as saying Tuesday.
A 100 million dollar loan from Japan would pay for developing the ports of Tartus and Lattaqieh in the northwest of the country, he told the ruling party newspaper Al-Baath.
The money would pay for new port facilities to boost efficiency and, in Tartus, two new terminals of which one would be an industrial free zone "as in Dubai", where electronic goods could be assembled, Obeid said.
He added that the Islamic Development Bank had agreed to fund the purchase of two ships from China and two from Germany.
The Japanese aid agency JAICA had completed a study on developing the Syrian ports and was working on another comparing them with rivals in the Mediterranean in order to make them more attractive to shipping companies, Obeid said.
Tartus and Latakia are well placed for traffic to and from the Gulf and Syria's Arab neighbors but they are only functioning at 60 percent capacity because of high container handling charges, he noted.
"Syria is in the process of reviewing these charges as well as insurance premiums with a view to making the ports more competitive," Obeid said - DAMASCUS (AFP)
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