Iraq inaugurated a free trade zone near the Syrian border on Monday’ July 9, as part of its campaign to recover from more than a decade of UN sanctions.
The Al-Qaem zone opened by Trade Minister Mohammad Mehdi Saleh is the third of its kind in Iraq, after zones set up in 1999 at Fleifil in the north and Khor Zubeir near the southern port of Basra.
"They are designed to develop the national economy in the face of the unjust embargo," the director general of Iraq's free trade zones, Hamid Shaker Mahmoud, said at the opening, quoted by the official news agency INA.
Saleh said last month at a Syrian trade fair in Baghdad that the value of trade between Damascus and Baghdad was expected to climb to more than one billion dollars in 2001.
Syria and Iraq, which has been under UN embargo since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait but is allowed to trade under a humanitarian program, have set up trade offices in each other's capitals.
Ties between Iraq and Syria, governed by rival branches of the pan-Arab Baath party, have been on the upswing since the two former rivals launched a trade-driven normalization drive in 1997.
Syria and Iraq severed ties in 1980 when Damascus sided with Tehran in its 1980-1988 war against Baghdad. ― (AFP, Baghdad)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )