Syria, Lebanon sign economic deals during Hariri visit

Syria and Lebanon signed economic agreements, signalling further improvement in ties.

Syria, Lebanon sign economic deals during Hariri visit

 

Syria and Lebanon signed economic agreements on Sunday, signalling further improvement in ties.

The agreements included investment protection, pharmaceutical products, shipping, tourism and taxation.

The deals, signed by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri with his counterpart in the Syrian capital, were the first since the 2005 assassination in Beirut of his father Rafik al-Hariri.

"We want the ties between Syria and Lebanon to form a model for an Arab common market," Hariri said at a news conference with Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otri.

Hariri, who also met President Bashar al-Assad, said a committee set up by the two countries to demarcate the border "has to begin its work and finish it as soon as possible."

Otri said cooperation between Syria and its smaller neighbour had to extend to security.

Syria agreed with Lebanon in 2008 to demarcate the border, two years after a United Nations resolution recommended Syria work on the issue. Damascus has since said its technical teams were busy finishing border demarcation with Jordan and that a small Lebanese region occupied by Israel and bordering Syria complicated any demarcation.

The United States and France had demanded the border demarcation, but the issue has not prevented their ties with Damascus from improving.

The border between Lebanon and Syria has not demarcated since 1920.

Trade between Lebanon and Syria fell to $459 million in 2009 from $495 million the previous year. The volumes are regarded as low, comprising a quarter of trade between Syria and its northern neighbour Turkey.

Syria, however, is Lebanon's only open land transport route, and Lebanese banks have spearheaded the entry of foreign banks into the Syrian market after the state relinquished its monopoly on the sector.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Temmuz 2010, 15:05
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