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Syria gives Lebanese products first priority

15-4-2019

Following the Syrian decision to cut transit tariffs on Lebanese trucks, Al Diyar daily revealed that the Syrian prime minister, Imad Khamis, confirmed to the Lebanese agriculture minister Hassan Lakiss that his country will give priority to made-in-Lebanon goods. During the minister’s visit to Damascus, Al Diyar wrote, it was agreed to set a date for Lebanon to start exporting potatoes to neighboring Syria, noting that it is the first time Damascus will import the Lebanese produce for domestic consumption and not for transit to other countries. Citing a political source in the March 8 Bloc, the newspaper said the visit by Lakiss, who was accompanied by a delegation of 21 ministry officials, came at a prior knowledge of the Lebanese premier Saad Hariri. The factions opposing normal relations with Syria, the newspaper went on to say, have reached a conviction that persisting in the boycott brings more losses on Lebanon in the industrial, agricultural and commerce areas. In this respect, Lakiss visited on the 13th of this month the Melkite Greek Archbishop of Forzol, Zahleh and Beqaa, Issam John Darwish, and discussed with him the results of his visit to the Syrian capital to facilitate export of Lebanese goods to Syria and from there on via transit through the Nassib Crossing to Joran, Iraq and GCC states and to reduce tariffs. This, Lakiss explained, will help Lebanese farmers dispose of and market their produce. In a related development, former minister Nicolas Tweini, said on April 11 that the re-opened Tanaf Crossing between Syria and Iraq is an important outlet for Lebanese exports and the closest to the Lebanese borders via Damascus, Adra and Tadmor up to the Iraqi borders. The crossing, Lakiss maintained, is good news to the various Lebanese industries and agricultural products, as the Iraqi market is huge and represents a good opportunity to export at least USD 1 billion a year. (Al Diyar, April 13, 14, 2019)

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