Jordan follows other Arab states, signs free trade deal with Iraq
Having concluded a series of free trade agreements with its Arab neighbors over the past year, Iraq has signed its latest deal with Jordan Monday, July 22, amid US threats against its regime.
Iraqi trade minister Mohammed Mahdi Saleh inked the accord aiming "to enlarge business and economic cooperation" with his visiting Jordanian counterpart Salah Bashir, INA news agency reported.
Bashir, who arrived late last week, heading a trade mission, has held talks with several top Iraqi officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Hekmat Ibrahim Al-Azzawi and the Industry and Minerals Minister Mayssar Raja Shalah.
He was earlier in the day quoted in Jordan's Al-Doustour daily as saying Jordan would follow the example of other Arab nations in signing a free trade accord with Baghdad in spite of Western press reports it is a likely staging post for a threatened US strike on its eastern neighbor.
"The Jordanian and Iraqi governments are determined to seal a free trade agreement," Al-Dustour quoted Bashir as saying during his four-day visit to Baghdad. "The deal will be signed in Baghdad soon at the heads of government level," Bashir told the paper, without providing details on when Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb would visit Iraq.
The minister noted that the two countries were already bound by a trade agreement dating back to 1957, which grants duty-free access for certain goods and has helped make Iraq Jordan's main Arab trade partner. A free trade agreement would "provide the two countries' private sectors with more scope to strengthen bilateral trade," he added.
The Kingdom of Jordan would be the 11th Arab state to sign a free trade agreement with Baghdad, in a trend that has sparked growing concern in Washington. -- (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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