Turkish Trade Secretary Kursad Tuzman said Tuesday, March 13, that Ankara wanted to boost trade with Baghdad to pre-1990 levels of more than $2.5 billion a year.
"The volume of trade was more than $2.5 billion a year before 1990. It then began to go down, and today it stands at $800 million. We hope to boost it back up to more than $2.5 billion," Tuzman said.
"I think the current level of trade does not reflect the capacities of the two neighboring countries, which share a common historical and cultural heritage," said Tuzman, who flew into Baghdad on Tuesday at the head of a 400-strong delegation of Turkish businessmen.
According to Tuzman, the crippling embargo imposed on Iraq by the United Nations "has already cost Turkey more than $40 billion because of loss of access to the Iraqi market."
A similar trade mission to relaunch bilateral economic ties was organized last month by Ankara, which recently strengthened diplomatic ties with its neighbor by reopening an embassy in Baghdad.
Turkey has also organized several "humanitarian" flights to Iraq since late last year with medical equipment and also businessmen aboard. They were organized with the approval of Turkish authorities, who said they had observed official procedures by informing the United Nations about the flights. — (AFP, Baghdad)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)