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Adgur Ardzinba and Mohammad Samer al-Khalil signing an agreement on trade and economic cooperation, September 6, 2018. Photo: mineconom-ra.org

Syria Signs Agreement on Tax-Free Trade with Sokhumi

The Syrian government signed on September 6 an agreement on trade and economic cooperation with representatives of the Russian-backed authorities of Abkhazia, envisioning the establishment of a tax-free regime between the two.

The agreement was inked by Syrian Economy Minister Mohammad Samer al-Khalil and his Sokhumi counterpart, Adgur Ardzinba, during the visit of Abkhaz leader Raul Khajimba to Damascus.

According to the Syrian authorities, the agreement will facilitate commercial exchange between “the two friendly countries.”

The Sokhumi authorities, on their part, hope the agreement will help Abkhaz businesses reach external markets and intensify trade with Syria.

“Syria is actively developing its trade relations with Russia and here, we can play a special role considering our transit potential and more favorable conditions for businesses,” Ardzinba stressed, adding that the “relatively short distance” between the ports of Latakia, Syria’s main seaport, and Sokhumi is “an advantage for economic cooperation.”

Khajimba arrived in Syria on September 4, signing the friendship and cooperation agreement with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In Damascus, Khajimba also met with Prime Minister Imad Khamis, Chairman of the People’s Assembly Hammoudeh Sabbagh and Russian Ambassador to Syria Alexander Kinshak.

On September 6, the Syrian and the Abkhaz officials also signed an agreement on establishing a joint committee for economic, commercial, scientific, technical and cultural cooperation.

The Abkhaz visitors attended the Damascus International Fair as well, where the materials demonstrating the region’s culture and economy were presented in a separate booth.

Syria announced its decision to establish diplomatic relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia on May 29, making it the fifth United Nations member state to have recognized the two regions’ independence from Georgia.

Russia, Venezuela, Nauru and Nicaragua are the only other nations that recognize the two regions’ independence from Georgia.

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