Iraq says free trade zones with Turkey, Iran '\'premature'\'
Iraq said Monday, September 10, it had no immediate plans to set up free trade zones with its non-Arab neighbors. "It is premature now to think of establishing free zones with non-Arab countries neighboring Iraq," Deputy Prime Minister Hikmat Al-Izzawi told reporters after opening a Turkish medical supplies fair in Baghdad.
But Izzawi, who was apparently referring to both Turkey and Iran, added that the establishment of such zones would be considered in future in the course of expanding Iraq's ties with non-Arab neighbors.
Izzawi, who doubles as finance minister, said Iraq was prepared to cooperate "with all its neighbors, whether Arab or foreign, if they demonstrate readiness" to do the same. The Iraqi official said relations with Turkey, which had gone through ups and downs over the past decade, had recently been expanding, in line with "the needs of the two countries and peoples."
Twenty-seven Turkish firms are participating in the four-day fair in a new sign of Ankara's drive to revitalize trade with its sanctions-hit southern neighbor.
Iraq last June signed a four-way free trade agreement with Syria, Egypt and Libya. It has also concluded bilateral free trade accords with Syria, Egypt and Tunisia despite being under crippling UN sanctions since invading Kuwait in 1990. — (AFP, Baghdad)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)