Seeking to emphasize the significance of the free trade agreement it signed with Egypt last month, an Iraqi minister has said that his country plans to import $2 billion worth of goods from Egypt during the course of 2001.
Speaking to reporters after meeting in Cairo with Egyptian Prime Minister Atef Obaid, Iraq’s trade minister, Mehdi Saleh, confirmed that $2 billion has been allocated for trade with Egypt during the current calendar year. He said that the meeting focused on activating January’s free trade agreement.
Saleh’s forecast is considerably more optimistic than earlier predictions made by his Egyptian hosts. According to Gulf News Egyptian officials have previously suggested that the free trade agreement would raise the level of Egyptian exports to Iraq to $1 billion a year. The total value of Egyptian exports to Iraq over the past six years was about $1.3 billion.
Despite the signing of the free trade agreement, Egypt evidently has no plans of busting UN sanctions, and will coordinate its sales with the framework of the oil for food program. Saleh said that Iraq is currently seeking motor vehicles, food, construction materials and industrial products.
Saleh said that contracts have already been signed for the import of large and medium-sized vehicles from Egypt.
Youssef Boutros-Ghali, Egypt's economy minister, had been scheduled to visit Iraq last week. But his trip was postponed, reportedly so that Egypt could prepare lists of commodities that it would sell to Iraq according to the UN oil-for-food program. – (Albawaba-MEBG)
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )