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Russia establishing direct shipping line to Syria: Deputy PM

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin (AFP photo)

Work on establishing a direct shipping line between Syria and Russia is in progress as Russian authorities call on companies active in trade and business to help Syria recover from years of war and devastation.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who is also in charge of the country’s military industrial complex, said on Tuesday that trade between Russia and Syria would go up significantly when the shipping line is established.

“A direct shipping line between Russian and Syrian ports is being established,” said Rogozin during a meeting of a Russian-Syrian commission on trade cooperation.

“We now state that it’s time for economic restoration and expect that Russia’s businesses will play the most active role in this process.”

The shipping line would certainly increase Russia’s agricultural and other supplies to Syria while it could be a major step toward the revival of export to the war-ravaged country. The line could also help Syria’s meager export of vegetables and fruits to Russia grow.

Rogozin called on Russian companies to help build an economic recovery in Syria. A company called Oboronlogistika, which is under the jurisdiction of Russia’s Defense Ministry, is currently responsible for the bulk of Russia’s trade to Syria. It has three ships with loading function for the transportation of cargo in trailers and containers while organizing cargo transportation, customs clearance and warehouse services.

Rogozin said annual trade between the two countries reached $193 million by the end of July this year, showing a 42-percent year-on-year increase. Syrian companies also exported goods to Russia worth two million dollars in the period. The Russian official said Syria could see a jump in its trade with Russia if the necessary infrastructure was created.

“This is mainly related to a lack of necessary infrastructure for exports and commissioning of local agricultural produce, which makes it economically unviable to supply Syrian vegetables and fruits,” said Rogozin.

Russia has been a main supporter of Syria’s war on militants since a large-scale conflict began in the Arab country in 2011.

The Russian government accepted a request from Syria to deploy boots on the ground two years ago while Moscow has also sent numerous humanitarian cargos to help people affected by the war across Syria.

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