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 pressure
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.
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.