Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis announced the launch of the 59th Damascus International Fair Thursday, Aug. 17, to be held over nine days.
The Assad regime is trying to promote the return of Syria’s stability and economic activity, and the salvation of the industrial sector, despite statements from government officials indicating that more than 80 percent of Syrian manufacturing has halted due to the war, placing question marks around the appropriateness of holding the fair at this time.
According to observers, the idea of holding the Damascus fair is merely a failed regime plan. How could businessmen, whether Arab or foreign, invest in a country which has been enduring war for years? This is in addition to the fact that Syria does not have the necessary infrastructure, which has witnessed destruction of up to 70 percent.
The Syrian economic analyst Abdel Nasser al-Jassim says: "This fair is one of the beautification steps through which the Assad regime aims to promote the return of stability to Syria, and say that the economy, and especially the industrial sector, are doing well, and that the Syrian state is standing and is producing and exporting its products abroad."
He adds: "However, the truth of the matter contradicts this claim. According to the statements of [President Bashar] al-Assad's government itself, 80 percent of industrial facilities have halted during the war, and Syria is even importing basic food and consumer goods."
According to Jassim, holding the fair is a very dangerous step, as the Assad regime will be breaking the blockade that has been imposed by the Arab League and European Union since 2011, regardless of the participants or what the fair contains.
Khamis said in recent press statements that, "We will support deals that emerge from the Damascus International Fair with free transport, whether by land, air or sea, which will encourage export."
He predicted preliminary export deals of more than $300 million, given the presence of a large number of businessmen and traders who came to Syria to see Syrian products and market them to their countries, taking advantage of the competitive price advantages and the quality of free shipping.
Statements from the General Authority for Fairs and International Markets under the Economy Ministry indicated that 44 Arab and foreign countries will participate in the upcoming fair, in addition to Syria’s private and public sectors.
According to the statements, which were viewed by Al-Araby al-Jadeed, more than 15 European countries are due to participate in the fair, while Asian and Arab countries will also join.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.