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Landmark free trade agreement with Iraq endorsed

posted on 06/05/2002: 818 views

President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan has given the green light for local customs authorities to open up the market for Iraqi products by ratifying a landmark free trade accord signed by the two countries in November last year. A Federal circular issued by the President and published in the official media yesterday formally endorsed the agreement which experts said would largely boost trade and investment between the two Gulf Arab countries.

Under the pact, Iraq's first with an Arab nation since it came under UN sanctions in 1991, customs tariffs and other barriers for commercial exchange between the two countries were lifted and a ministerial panel has been formed to ensure its implementation. "The free trade agreement completely removes all customs tariffs and other tariffs on national products in the two also stipulates the immediate cancellation of all non-customs barriers and the need to impose any new barriers."

The UAE and Iraq signed the free trade pact on November 2 and officials said it aimed at facilitating movement of goods and investments between the two countries. Experts said Iraq would gain access to the entire GCC market through the free trade deal when the six member states merge their markets in a customs union early next year.

Iraq's exports have remained negligible as most of its economic sectors have been crippled by the second Gulf war and ensuing UN sanctions. But Iraqi officials have spoken of a progress in plans to rehabilitate the farming sector and export some products. The free trade agreement covers only home-made products and excludes items which are banned for health, environment or religious reasons as per local laws. "The two sides pledge to ensure sufficient and indiscriminate protection for copyrights, intellectual, trade and industrial property as per those laws." (The Gulf News)


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