Brazil Plans To Invest In Syria

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Brazil Plans To Invest In Syria

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. FILE IMAGE: Reuters

Brazil plans to reopen its embassy and restore full diplomatic relations with Syria in the hope of participating in the war-torn country’s reconstruction, according to Bloomberg.

Brazilian President Michel Temer had instructed foreign minister Aloysio Nunes Ferreira to carry out a feasibility study. Preliminary feedback from intelligence and defense officials is positive, he said, and a decision will be taken in the next few days. Brazilian foreign minister said “Our wish is to fully reactivate the Embassy and send a resident ambassador to Damascus.”

In his assessment of why Brazil should expand its diplomatic presence in Syria, Nunes Ferreira said the country was a “hot spot of world politics” and home to an estimated 1,500-strong Brazilian community. When the war ends, Brazilian companies could participate in the reconstruction, he added. Brazil is also home to a significant community of Syrian and Lebanese origin, with one of its most famous representatives being Michel Temer, the current president.

US-imposed financial sanctions make western banks reluctant to do business with Syria. A representative for Prime cosmetic group, which considers the possibility of opening a hair products factory in Syria, said they would handle all transactions through Lebanon if they close deals with Syrian clients.

Brazil also faces stiff competition from countries who have much closer political and business relations with Syria, like Iran, Russia and China. “Of course some other countries have an advantage but there is also room for Brazilian companies,” said Michel Alaby, the director-general of the Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, who has been to Syria twice this year. Appointing a resident ambassador to Damascus is vital to improving Brazil’s chances of success, he said.

Brazil recalled all of its diplomatic staff from Damascus in 2012, but it has kept a functioning embassy building where local staff have handled mostly consular issues, while a Beirut-based charge d’affaires maintains contact with Syrian officials. Brazil, while condemning Bashar al-Assad’s regime, has refrained from supporting any of the insurgents groups during the conflict.

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