Trade between Iraq and Arab countries reached $6.2 billion in 2000, Iraqi Trade Minister Mohamed Mahdi Saleh said Tuesday, February 13. Saleh, who arrived Tuesday in Cairo for a five-day visit, added that Arab countries accounted for 47 percent of Iraq's total trade.
He also announced trade between Iraq and Egypt was expected to exceed $2 billion in 2001, thanks to the creation fo a free trade zone between the two countries following an agreement signed in January. Egyptian exports to Iraq totalled $1.2 billion in 2000, up from $400 million in 1999, while trade reached $300 million in the reverse direction, Saleh said.
Egypt has become one of Iraq's major economic partners since 1996, when the United Nations started letting Iraq sell limited amounts of oil for food, medicine and other necessities. Saddam Hussein's country has become Egypt's second export market after the United States.
Cairo has regularly called for an end to economic sanctions on Iraq, which were imposed following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. During his visit in Cairo, Saleh and Egyptian Priem Minister Atef Ebeid will discuss the details of the application of their free trade agreement.
The officials are also expected to decide on a date for the visit of an Egyptian trade delegation to Baghdad, headed by Egyptian Economy Minister Yusef Butros Ghali, which was scheduled to leave Friday but was delayed. Saleh also said he would take part in the Arab League Economic and Social Council meeting which was to kick off Wednesday, where he said he would call on all Arab countries to sign free trade agreements with Iraq. —(AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
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