IKCO is eyeing Syria despite regional tension

IKCO is eyeing Syria despite regional tension

IKCO Iran Khodro says it is evaluating the Syrian market with a view to either supplying CKD kits or utilising an existing factory in its neighbouring country by next year.

Any move by the Iranian automaker into Syria would see it enter a country wracked by a vicious civil war for the past three years, with estimates now putting the death toll at more than 100,000 as insurgents and the forces of President Bashar Assad, battle for control.

Added to that powderkeg situation is the incendiary rise of the so-called Islamic State, which has reportedly taken over large swathes of Syria as well as parts of Iraq to the East.

But as sanctions-hit Iran looks to the nuclear talks currently taking place in Vienna with a view to establishing more normal relations with the West, IKCO is also eyeing potential Middle East markets in a bid to boost its fledgling export business.

"In Syria we have an assembly plant - it is not active," IKCO deputy CEO export and international affairs, Ali Elmi, told just-auto from Tehran. "During the last year, nothing has been produced there, although certainly there has not been any damage, it is ready to work.

"As far as trade is concerned, I am trying to start some business in Syria based on the Iranian-Syrian relationship. If it starts again it would be good for the Syrian market as well, because they need a lot of cars.

"We can also supply CKD kits but there are a lot of different factors I am trying to settle."

The factory - around 20km-30km from Damascus - has a paint shop that has not operated for around two to three years although Elmi maintained the trim facility could be used.

"For the trim shop, I am sure it could be utilised and I am sure the paint shop can be repaired, just normal maintenance," he said.

The Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, previously reported in 2009, the ICKO plant in Syria was able to produce 10,000 vehicles annually, with the possibility of this rising to 30,000 using triple shifts.

The IKCO deputy export CEO added IKCO had "some stake" in the factory, with the remaining control being shared between the Syrian government and the private sector.

Calls were unable to be made to the Damascus plant using the number available from IKCO sources.

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