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UAE Iraq to sign free trade zone deal

posted on 17/06/2001: 741 views

Iraq will soon enter into an agreement with the UAE for the establishment of a free trade zone, Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh said. The establishment of a free trade zone would be a significant milestone in the light of the growing relations between Iraq and the UAE which resumed after a 10-year break.

Iraq has already entered into similar agreements with Egypt and Saudi Arabia and is in talks with Jordan to set up a free trade zone. The volume of Arab trade with Iraq during 2000 was to the tune of $6 billion (Dhs22.02 billion), representing 47 per cent of the total Iraqi foreign trade.

Mohammed Saleh said Iraq's trade with the Arab countries under its "Oil for Food' programme during the last five years (1997-2001) amounted to more than $10.5 billion. Official figures show that the bulk of Iraqi foreign trade has revolved around 15 Arab countries including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, Algeria, Yemen and Oman.

The UAE featured prominently among the other Arab countries with the bulk of Iraq's trade during 1997 to 2001 amounting to $2,082 million apart from the private sector trade that accounted for more than $2 million.

In October last year, UAE had flown an aircraft carrying medical supplies to Iraq in defiance of the UN sanctions and joining other Arab countries in open support of Iraq. Tunisia, Jordan and Morocco conducted similar missions. In another incident of camaraderie, a Dubai-based company in late 1998 had started a ferry service between Dubai and Iraq after obtaining United Nations' permission. (The Gulf Today)


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