Investors in Lebanon have stated their interest in contributing to Syria's reconstruction following a reconstruction report released by the UN's ESCWA earlier this month. However, they face a number of hurdles in the country, including international sanctions.
Following seven years of conflict in Syria and with much of the country now back under government control, international actors have turned their attention to the reconstruction of the country. Earlier this month, more than 50 Syrian and international experts met at a conference organised by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in Beirut, Lebanon. The conference was, in part, organised as a launch event for the ESCWA’s latest reconstruction report, entitled Syria, Seven Years At War.
The report estimates that the reconstruction of Syria will cost more than $400 billion. However, this figure does not account for the human losses of the country, including those resulting from death or the loss of human competences and skilled labour due to displacement. The loss of skilled workers and intellectuals will undoubtedly be the greatest impediment to Syria’s post-war economic growth.
“Syria’s reconstruction needs a comprehensive survey of sectors that need to be rebuilt,” said Raouf Abu Zaki, Chairman of al-Mahtam and al-Alamad Group. “The survey should be objective and actual reports need to be made by specialised teams. The reconstruction [of Syria] cannot be carried out neither comprehensively nor systematically due to the Syrian [Government’s] incomplete control over certain areas, which has in turn not given investors the opportunity to participate in the reconstruction of such areas.”
Lebanese investors have already stated their interest in bidding for any future reconstruction contracts or investments. However, investors in Lebanon face a number of obstacles, including Lebanon’s political division over its participation in the reconstruction process within a framework of normalising Lebanon’s relations with the Syrian Government, which many people in Lebanon reject. Moreover, international sanctions that have been imposed on Syria, including those by the European Union and the USA, present a potential legal barrier to the plans of many investors looking towards Syria.