The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, is providing EUR 50 million for the modernisation and development of the port of Tartous, in the South of Syria.

The loan is made available to the Syrian Arab Republic. The works include the rehabilitation of one quay and the main breakwater, dredging, construction of two quays to handle additional traffic, including passenger and cargo terminals, and acquisition of modern handling equipment for containers and general cargo. They will be implemented by the Ministry of Transport.

The investment is part of the efforts to modernise and develop Syria's ports, as the bulk of the country's foreign trade is sea borne. Tartous together with Latakia, are the country's two major commercial ports. Tartous serves mainly central and southern parts of Syria, including the capital Damascus. Its port is specialised in certain types of general, roll-on/roll-off and solid bulk cargo. The construction of a new passenger terminal will contribute to the expansion of the tourism industry in the vicinity of Tartous.

Enhanced Syrian port facilities will contribute to promoting regional and international trade flows in view of the establishment of a free trade zone in the Mediterranean region by 2010.

With the new Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), the EIB has reinforced its cooperation with the Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPC). Endowed with increased financial resources, FEMIP will enable the EIB gradually to scale up its annual lending activity in the region from EUR 1.5 billion to EUR 2 billion.

FEMIP accords priority to financing private-sector projects with the dual aim of liberalising the MPC economies and expanding their potential in the run-up to the EU-MPC Customs Union in 2010. In this connection, the EIB's objective is to bolster the proportion of financing it devotes to private-sector projects to 33%. It places emphasis on FDI and private sector activity, as well as on social-sector projects, particularly health, education and environmental protection, for supporting social stability and encouraging productive investment.

In Syria, since 2000 the EIB has provided a total of EUR 340 million for electricity, health and transport.