The Syria Report’s business registry indicates that in the past three years, only twelve companies with European citizens or Europe-based shareholders were established in Syria. The registry, which is based on records from the Official Gazette, only lists limited liabilities and joint-stock companies.
The government has awarded a mobile phone licence to a company jointly owned by the government and powerful regime-affiliated businessmen.
The Australian-Syrian Business Council (ASBC), a business networking organisation that aims to develop economic relations between the two countries, was launched by a group of Australian businessmen of Syrian origin last month. According to the council's president, the ASBC received the required approvals from Australian authorities, which would be a rare move given Australia's opposition to the Syrian government.
Three prominent Syrian businessmen—each reportedly with Russian citizenship—have been linked in recent Arabic and international media reports to the company that purchased the ammonium nitrate that exploded in Beirut in August.
The European Union has rejected appeals from two Syrian businessmen to be removed from its sanctions lists, including one figure who had already been delisted by the EU Council, sending a confusing signal for other sanctioned individuals seeking to cut regime ties in exchange for relief from sanctions.
The government has awarded an unknown Serbian-Omani venture, which appears to be a front company for unidentified investors, a contract to extract phosphate from mines near Palmyra, according to a reliable local publication, which has since deleted its story.