A UN investigation into Syrian involvement in the murder of a former Lebanese leader has not hurt foreign investment in Syria
, which is surging due to strong support from Gulf nations.
Abd Allah al-Dardari, Syria's deputy prime minister, who is also in charge of economic affairs, said that foreign investment reached $1.8 billion by the end of last month, up from $720 million for all of last year.
Total private investment from all sources rose to $6 billion in the first 10 months of the year, up from $4 billion last year, he said.
"We have noticed an outpouring of Arab investment, especially from the Gulf, into Syria," al-Dardari told reporters on Monday.
"Arab investors would like to see Syria strong and flourishing in the face of external pressure."
Billion dollar projects
The government recently announced projects totalling $5 billion involving Gulf companies, and expects another $1 billion worth of new Arab investment before the year-end, he said.
"Until now, we haven't seen any negative impact of the UN investigations and the political environment surrounding Syria on foreign investment in the country," al-Dardari said.
Syria has come under international pressure after UN investigations into the death of Rafiq al-Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister who was killed with 20 other people in a truck bombing in Beirut on 14 February.
Syria has come under pressure
following a UN investigation
Last month, UN investigators issued an interim report that said Syrian intelligence played a role in the murder, and criticised Syria for hindering the interviewing of witnesses. The Syrian government has maintained its innocence.
Al-Dardari said Syria had embarked on a new phase of economic reforms and liberalisation, with plans for eight more industrial parks, new airports, infrastructure and technology projects.
"2005 is the turning point for private investment ... after decades of centrally clamped economy with public-sector dominated activities," he said.
The government projects that the economy will grow an average of 5% annually and accelerate to a 7% to 8% growth rate from 2010 to 2015, he said.
Syria is also exploring plans to set up a hub in Malaysia to tap the Southeast Asian market, especially in the Islamic halal food market such as meat and dairy products, he said.
Earlier, al-Dardari and Muyhiddin Yassin, Malaysia's Agriculture Minister, witnessed the signing of an agreement on agriculture co-operation.