Jordan and Iraq are likely to sign a 36 million Jordanian dinar agricultural trade protocol soon that falls outside the UN oil-for-food deal, an Agricultural Associations Council (AAC) member said on Saturday. The AAC on Monday organized a symbolic agricultural aid flight to Baghdad. Jordanian public and private sector officials who made the trip held talks with their Iraqi counterparts on prospects for agricultural trade, a subject not covered by the trade protocol signed last month between the two countries.
The flight, one of many launched in recent weeks by various organizations in different countries, was designed to demonstrate solidarity with the Iraqi people and to break the embargo imposed on Iraq by the United Nations a decade ago. It was also seen as an opportunity to explore agricultural exchanges of various produce and production inputs between the two Arab neighbors.
“The Iraqi side welcomed Jordan's initiative to [work out] a mutual agricultural exchange protocol, as it will be the first such deal,” AAC member Abdul Rahman Ghaith said. He told the Jordan Times that Iraqi officials had remarked that “all countries just want to sell products to Iraq, but this is the first time where a country, Jordan, shows that it wants to give-and-take — in other words, to export and to import. Our deal, if materialized, will fall outside and will differ from the UN oil-for-food deal, as it will be an agricultural-products-for-agricultural-products deal,” Ghaith pointed out.
Amman, said the official, will have to work hard to obtain UN approval, which would greatly benefit Jordan, as its agricultural sector, as well as other sectors, has been hard hit by the sanctions. “The government should be able to get the approval as there is a section in the UN resolution allowing those countries negatively affected by the sanctions on Baghdad to exchange products with Iraq,” Ghaith said.
Otherwise, the government ought to turn a blind eye and allow the deal to proceed nevertheless, he said. He cited the example of Damascus, saying “Syria imports Iraqi barley and urea outside the UN oil-for-food deal and no one objects.”
The Jordanian delegation submitted a list to the Iraqi side last week of what products the Kingdom would like to export to Iraq. Included on that list, according to Ghaith, are agricultural and livestock production inputs, fertilizers, veterinary medications, insecticides and some winter vegetables and fruits. The Iraqi list of suggested exports is to be submitted to the Jordanian principals within a few days.
The 60-million-euro proposal is to break the embargo, he said, adding that “the number is humble, but it is a good start.” Following the exchange of the proposed products lists, a joint committee will be formed to follow up on the matter.
Monday's Baghdad-bound flight carried some 92 persons as well as a payload of needed agricultural aid. The cargo did not include agricultural chemical production inputs. “Insecticides and fertilizers were banned in line with UN regulations,” said a council source who declined to be named.
The council represents the Agricultural Engineers Association, the Fruit and Vegetable Exporters and Producers Association, the Agricultural Products Dealers Association, the Agricultural Products Retailers Association and the Jordan Farmers Union. — ( Jordan Times )
By Khalid Dalal
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )