“Limited and timid contribution” might be the answer to many questions posed by the citizens and residents of the rural areas of northern Aleppo, concerning the Syrian capital, if compared to the Turkish vivacity and interest in the area’s various sectors, particularly economic ones.
In recent months, Turkish activities have been demonstrated by opening of border crossings and the launching of major commercial and developmental investments in service, education, health and security fields.
In contrast to the Turkish movement, the contribution of Syrian businessmen and investors remains limited. Syrian capital contributes shyly to opening large economic projects, despite its strong presence in Turkey, neighboring countries, Egypt and the Gulf region.
Lacking Security Obstructs Syrian Capital
Today, Syrian investments in rural Aleppo are limited to the opening of food factories, tissues and some construction projects, due to the absence of security, stability and a government to run the work flow and the population’s life affairs, according to Rami Sharaq, deputy executive chairman of the Syrian Economic Forum, who told Enab Baladi that investors need three years at least to start achieving revenues.
Ibrahim Rurbaleh, director of the Commerce Office in the city of Azaz, rural Aleppo, stressed that the area’s security conditions play a role in relation to the Syrian capital’s contribution. It is causing fear within Syrian investors concerning the launch of large economic projects, under the missing protection and governmental compensation upon investors’ loss, in addition to the shortage on modern equipment that serve the large economic projects which the area needs.
The Syrian businessmen’s inability to enter and exit the opposition-controlled areas in Northern Syria, as to study the area’s need of equipment, logistic support and raw materials is one of the prominent obstacles, a businessman in rural Aleppo, refusing to reveal his name, reported to Enab Baladi.
In addition to this, no light is being shed on investments undertaken by Syrian investors, such as the opening of a mall and residential apartment project in Azaz, the thing which weakened the Syrian investment movement in the area.
According to Durbaleh, the fact that the Syrian commodities are not being exported out of rural Aleppo is considered a reason to the limited economic presence of Syrians.
The Syrian products are consumed locally due to the lacking “certificate of origin,” usually issued by the Chamber of Commerce of the exporting country, showing where the to be exported commodity is manufactured and produced; it is considered a necessary document to identify the nationality of the product and is adopted internationally when it comes to the export process, he added.
Durbaleh pointed out that a plan for a “Free Trade Area” in rural Aleppo has been finalized and is waiting for the Turkish government’s decision to open and officially adopt it for the export of the Syrian commodities abroad. The issue is relatively suspended for political reasons, as he put it.
“In the majority of rural Aleppo’s areas, many Syrian investors depend on the support of a certain faction, family or region for protection, while the Turkish businessmen have the protection and assistance of their country, a businessman told Enab Baladi.
Syrians who Prefer to partner with Turkish Investors
In addition to the above-mentioned, Turkish businessmen have partnered with Syrian investors in several projects serving the region by opening branch 83 of the Turkish MÜSİAD in rural Aleppo, on the proposal of Syrian and Turkish businessmen, to assist Syrians in exporting their goods abroad and provide job opportunities to the largest number of unemployed people, according to Durbaleh.
The “Turkey MÜSİAD” Association represents about 35 companies, including 7500 Turkish businessmen, while it employs about a million and 500 thousand people. It has 76 communication points throughout Turkey and 56 ones around the world, according to Turk Press.
Durbaleh explained that a large part of the area’s population favors the Syrian-Turkish partnership and Turkish economic projects for their quality and their ability to provide modern equipment and machines that serve the people, such as an electricity company that was opened in Azaz by a Turkish businessman in partnership with a Syrian trader, which covered 90% of the city’s needs.
However, some of the people believe that the area is yet in need for other economic and service project to help them develop their living, service and economic standards.
In their economic projects, Turkish contractors rely on Syrian workers and engineers, either through local councils or the “Free Engineers” association.
The Turkish economic projects utilize modern equipment, while Syrian traders suffer from lack of access to quality machines, being hard to afford.
Turkish political and economic delegations, upon Syrian businessmen’s invitation of 200 Turkish investors from the different Turkish provinces, visited Azaz four times on November 11, 2018, with the aim of supporting the economy in in rural Aleppo.
The Syrian-Turkish partnership in the economic field started in several Turkish states (Istanbul, Mersin, Gaziantep and Hatay). The share of joint ventures in Turkey and inside Syria reached 34.2 million Turkish liras, according to a study published by the Turkish Economic Policy Research Center (TEPAV) on November 6, 2018.
In November 2018 alone, the number of Syrian-Turkish companies reached 151 companies.
Syrian capital increased by 147.6% in November 2018 compared with September.
Syrian-Turkish partnerships include investments in all fields (education, medicine, entertainment for Syrians at home, construction, real estate and food factories), according to the study.
Aleppo’s Economic Future
As for the economic future of rural Aleppo, it can only be started in the light of “a stable economic investment environment,” according to Deputy Executive Chairman of the Syrian Economic Forum Rami Sharaq, who considered that “the lack of stability and the absence of a legitimate government that effectively manages the region hinders the commercial progress of the rural areas of Aleppo, which is needed for productive economic and service projects (large, medium and small).”
|Aleppo’s rural areas are under the control of the Syrian Interim Government, which was established in March 2013 and was formed by a group of opposition figures and the National Coalition of Revolutionary Forces and the Syrian opposition.|
The area is experiencing a gradual economic improvement that started with Turkish and Syrian businessmen’s initiation and presence at joint commercial projects and meetings to facilitate investments in the area, Durbaleh said.
A total of 117 entry permits were granted to Syrian investors in Turkey, enabling them to enter rural Aleppo for a whole year, in addition to permits allowing them to bring in the necessary building supplies, cars and raw materials, according to the commercial office in Azaz.