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Syria's first trade fair in five years

Friday, August 18, 2017 - 01:27

After five years of suspension, Damascus International Fair in its 59th edition has kicked-off with the participation of Arab and Western companies, and hopes of attracting fresh international investment. Ciara Lee reports.

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Flags representing the participants of a trade fair - nothing out of the ordinary about that Except this business pow wow is in Damascus - its first such event in five years. More than six years of war and crippling sanctions have cost the Syrian economy over 220 billion dollars. The largest number of participants came from Russia, China and Iran. Iran, the biggest ally of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, had 30 companies on show. But there were others present too, including Egypt, Venezuela, Indonesia and the Czech Republic. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PETR TALANDA, CEO OF CONNECT THE WORLD CZECH COMPANY, SAYING: "I think that the war will be over very soon and who comes first will have much better experience and opportunity for the future. With help from Russian and Iranian forces, Assad has retaken control of strategic parts of the country. But many Gulf and Western leaders say Assad must step down if the country is to ever be stable again. SOUNDBITE (English) SENIOR FX STRATEGIST, RABOBANK, JANE FOLEY, SAYING: "I think it might be a pretty long road before Syria can attract a real positive flow back into its economy." For many business is the last thing on their minds. An estimated 400,000 people have died in the war. And over half the population have been driven from their homes in what's considered to be the largest refugee crisis since World War II.

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Syria's first trade fair in five years

Friday, August 18, 2017 - 01:27