Syria needs Indian investment in many sectors: Shallah

June 19th, 2008 - 3:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) There is tremendous scope for business cooperation between Syria and India, and Damascus hopes to attract Indian investment in many sectors, according to a Syrian business leader. “India can play a significant role in infrastructure capacity building in Syria. There is a space for Indian investors in health, education and IT sector as well,” said Rateb Shallah, president of the Federation of the Syrian Chambers of Commerce.

“There are opportunities waiting on both sides. We together can do a lot in adding to our people’s prosperity,” Shallah told IANS in an interview. “It is going to be a win-win situation.”

India’s pace of growth has impressed Syrian business leaders.

“Indian economy is doing very well. Nine percent growth rate is outstanding,” he said. “I congratulate every Indian for a robust economy, which is growing and expanding so fast.”

Shallah did not seem to be bothered by the rising inflation in India, now standing at a seven year high at 8.75 for the week ended May 31.

“Inflation is everywhere. It is global phenomenon, and is not going to stay for long. Even in Syria we have 7-9 percent inflation.”

Shallah heads the business delegation accompanying Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who arrived here Wednesday on a five-day visit. It is the first visit to India by any Syrian president in 30 years.

Like in India, Rateb said, Syria continued to share the “people’s burden” in view of increasing prices of petroleum products.

“But I do not think the government can share the burden (of subsidy) for a much longer period of time,” he said, without specifying what austerity measures his government could initiate to rein in inflation.

Trade between India and Syria grew 78.86 percent in 2006-07 to $487.94 million, from $ 272.8 million in the year before.

Shallah’s optimism was reflected in President al-Assad’s address to the joint meeting of Indian and Syrian industry leaders here.

“I invite you to explore opportunities for joint ventures and other collaboration in major areas including infrastructure development, energy production, mineral processing, IT, education…,” al-Assad said.

Shallah said that he and other members of the business delegation would meet their Indian counterparts and invite them for joint ventures.

“It is a landmark development in bilateral relationship. Opportunities in Syria beckon Indian entrepreneurs,” he said.

The India-Syria Joint Commission’s first meeting Jan 15-17 this year here discussed various issues to facilitate greater industrial engagements.

The meeting also discussed among other things the prospects of Indian investments in rock phosphates and fertilisers, cement, power sector, IT, education and agro-industries.

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