Lebanon is working towards a free-trade accord with Iraq, Lebanese Minister of State Beshara Merhej said Monday, February 26, in Baghdad during a Lebanese trade show.
The consolidation of economic relations was "a prelude to the establishment of an Arab free-trade zone, which we are working on in cooperation with our brothers in Iraq," Marhaj said.
Iraq has already signed free-trade agreements with Egypt, Syria and Tunisia, and is planning to sign a similar accord with Jordan.
During his visit, Marhaj held talks with Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz on ways to boost the volume of trade with Iraq, which, according to Baghdad, has increased to $370 million.
Iraqi Finance Minister Hikmat Ibrahim Al-Azzawi said at the fair's opening that Baghdad was "open to cooperation with all Arab brothers in the oil and trade fields."
Around 100 Lebanese industrial companies are displaying their goods in Baghdad until March 4 in an attempt to seal contracts with Iraq under the UN-supervised oil-for-food program.
Under this program, sanctions-hit Baghdad is authorized to export crude — with the revenues paid into a UN escrow account — to finance imports of humanitarian supplies. — (AFP, Baghdad)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )