Following almost three years of delays, trading in eight different companies will begin on March 10, marking the establishment of the Damascus Securities Exchange (DSE) after the Bank of Syria and Overseas and Bank Audi received their preliminary approval from the DSE, the Al Bawaba news agency reported. Other companies traded include three banks, a transport company, a construction company and a publishing and marketing group. Four additional companies have applied to join the DSE. At the moment only four brokers have been admitted to membership of the DSE but a further six brokers are expected to join in the coming weeks once their applications have been approved by the board of the DSE, the Web site Mondovisione.com reported. Currently the brokers are only allowed to raise money inside Syria and not from foreign investors. The technical assistance for the exchange is provided by Hong Kong-based International Securities Consultancy Ltd. The exchanges in Abu Dhabi, Jordan and Egypt also provided advice and support to the DSE. Over the last couple of years, as oil production in Syria dropped from 600,000 barrels a day to 380,000 barrels a day, Syrian authorities have been working on opening the economy to foreign investment and reentering the country into the international community. In 2004, then US president George W. Bush signed an executive order banning all US-Syrian trade except for agricultural products. The isolation of Syria accelerated after the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri in 2005. Syria is accused of being behind the assassination, despite Syrian denials.