Lebanon News

Two days after being sanctioned by the European Union, Chams Wings, took part in one of the world’s largest tourism fairs, FITUR, held in Madrid. FITUR organisers said that “any presence of Chams Wings at the event is not a result of a contractual relationship with FITUR."
In 2023, the Syrian government partially reemerged from international diplomatic isolation as the regional normalisation process gained traction. After being reinstated in the Arab League in May, Bashar Al-Assad, his ministers, and Chambers of Commerce in regime areas have had a busier agenda compared to previous years, mostly re-engaging with Arab leaders and some Western countries.
In a financial disclosure to the Damascus Securities Exchange on December 7, SKIC, one of 14 insurance companies operating in Syria, said that CHO Advisory, a Lebanese company belonging to Riad Obegi, the Syrian investor behind the Bemo banking group, purchased 40 percent of its shares. CHO bought some 35 percent of the shares from the Saudi-based Gulf Insurance Group and the rest from other shareholders. GIG, which was until then SKIC’s strategic shareholder, saw its stake fall to 4 percent.
After 13 years of conflict, humanitarian needs in Syria are on the rise while international aid funds continues to shrink and Syria’s economy rapidly deteriorates. The dependency on international humanitarian assistance has greatly expanded over the past decade, although such aid has not improved living conditions or sustained economic recovery.
On November 14, the Businesswomen Committee of the Damascus Chamber of Commerce travelled to Paris to participate in a networking event, while representatives of the Aleppo Chamber of Commerce travelled to Vienna on November 27 to participate in an Arab-Austria economic forum.
The Syrian government is negotiating to extend the contract it has with French shipping giant CMA CGM over the management of the port of Lattakia’s container terminal. The Ministry of Transport has established a committee to negotiate with the French company but that does not necessarily mean that the contract with LICT will be eventually extended.
The Israeli retaliation after the Hamas’ attack on October 7 has led to violent echoes in the region: from deadly flare-ups in the Lebanese-Israeli border, exchange of fire in southern Syria, Israel’s airstrikes at Damascus and Aleppo airports, to U.S. bases in Syria and Iraq targeted in drone attacks by Iranian affiliated groups. The announced Israeli ground invasion of Gaza could be an important turning point with regards to regional escalation as Iran and Hezbollah made the potential invasion their main red line.
Damascus International Airport has resumed flights after being hit by an Israeli airstrike on October 12, while the Aleppo International Airport remains - at the moment of publishing - out of service after coming under Israeli fire twice, on October 12 and October 14. It appears flights in Aleppo airport will resume Wednesday 18, since two flights to Erbil and Sharjah are  scheduled that day, according to Flightradar24. 
Five months after Syria’s reinstatement in the Arab League, normalisation with Bashar Al-Assad seems to have yielded few Damascus concessions: captagon trade is surging, there is no sign of steps towards stabilisation, political reforms, or refugee return.
President Bashar Al-Assad’s handshake with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on September 22 marks a significant step in Syria’s reintegration into the global diplomatic sphere. Despite much fanfare, however, it is unlikely that promises by China's foreign minister Wang Yi’s “to take ties to a new level” will materialise into investments in Syria’s cash-strapped economy, given the recent decrease in China’s footprint in the country and Syria’s distressed business environment.
A decision by the Syrian government to shift phosphate exports handled by the Port of Lattakia to the port of Tartous has highlighted tensions between the foreign private operators of these ports and the government. Syria holds the fourth or fifth largest rock phosphate reserves worldwide.
In the first eight months of 2023, Syria’s non-oil foreign trade reached USD 2.681 billion, including imports of USD 2.161 billion, according to a statement by Prime Minister Hussein Arnous before the Parliament on September 17.
Amid rising food insecurity levels and wheat shortages, the Syrian government has recently contracted with Russian suppliers for the import of 1.4 million tonnes of soft wheat, which is used to produce bread. The wheat harvest across the country has improved this year but still falls short of the local demand.