SYRIA TIMES 5/11/2006
Sir Gavyn Arthur: SMEs lifeblood of Syria

"This conference is very important for Syria, because it is a continuation of the Banking conference which I visited two and a half years ago," Sir Gavyn Arthur, former Lord Mayor of City of London, told Syria Times.

Sir Gavyn went on to say, the conference instituted the start of the process. It has been very successful but it is a mere start. "Now, we need to build on this foundation and move ahead very quickly as the rest of the world is galloping ahead and Syria has to gallop just to start."

The decrees which opened up the retail banking sector have been very successful and what Syria needs like any other country in the world is more investment. It needs international global investment coming from outside into Syria.
"The lifeblood of Syria is its small and medium enterprises. The Syrians are traders by nature, they invented the international trade," said Sir Gavyn.

However, Syria needs investment because it needs money to build SMEs into global businesses, and it needs money from outside like any other country does and that`s why you need more investment and retail banks.

On the challenges facing the economic reform in the country, Sir Gavyn said Syria has to be particularly welcoming. This involves allowing branches to set up rather than subsidiaries of banks and it has to upgrade its commercial code as other countries have done.
Participants in yesterday`s sessions addressed the implications of a series of financial and banking decisions recently taken by the government as part of its widespread reform process.

They also discussed the opportunities resulting from the governments decision to grant licenses to ten privately owned banks ذ including three Islamic banks ذ and the possible change in the law that will allow international banks to have majority control of ownership.

Speakers also handled the new laws that allow private insurance companies to operate in Syria, as well as the plans to launch a stock market, which will pave the way for great increases in the supply of capital for investment projects and lead to the transformation of the Syrian economy.

Present in the opening ceremony were cabinet ministers, a number of distinguished speakers from the international banking and financial community and about 800 participants from the businessmen from Syria and Arab and foreign countries.


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