Iraq, Syria to set up nine joint ventures
Iraq and Syria will set up nine joint-venture companies, Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said Sunday, November 4 at the Baghdad Trade Fair. "We are on the way to setting up nine joint companies," Ramadan told reporters at the Syrian stand, but gave no further details.
The vice-president described economic ties between the two neighbors as a "common market ... in all sectors, without any restriction", following the launch of a free trade agreement in April. Lebanon and Iraq will also sign a free trade deal shortly, Lebanon's minister of state Beshara Meherej told Iraq's Al-Jumhuriya daily. He said the long-announced deal would be signed as soon as Ramadan visits Beirut.
Lebanon, which broke off diplomatic relations with Iraq in 1994 after the assassination in Beirut of an Iraqi opposition leader, decided to resume them in March at the level of charge d'affaires. Relations had already picked up in 1997 when Syria, which wields great influence over Lebanon, improved ties with Iraq.
In September, Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammad Mehdi Saleh announced that Iraq's imports from Syria were set to triple in 2001 to reach $1.5 billion. Iraq and Syria, governed by rival branches of the Baath party, froze diplomatic relations in 1980 over Syrian support for Iran in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, but have since stepped up economic relations. — (AFP, Bagdad)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)