The Syrian and Iraqi industry ministers met Sunday, April 1, to discuss ways to expand economic cooperation, Syria's official SANA news agency said, after Iraq announced that a free trade pact between the former rivals had gone into effect.
Syrian Industry Minister Ahmed Hamo and his Iraqi counterpart Adnan Abdel Majid discussed ways to cooperate in the textile, electric and food industries," with Abdel Majid praising "Syrian know-how in the textile industry," the agency said.
Late Saturday, Iraqi Trade Minister Mohamed Mehdi Saleh announced in Baghdad that a bilateral free trade agreement signed in January would enter into effect Sunday.
"As of April 1, exchanges of goods and merchandise between Iraq and Syria will be exempt from tariffs and will not need prior authorization," Saleh told Iraqi state television.
Syria and Iraq, governed by rival branches of the Baath party, broke off diplomatic relations in 1980 when Damascus supported Tehran in the Iran-Iraq war. They started to restore ties in 1997.
The neighboring countries' bilateral trade is worth about $500 million annually, and is nearly all one-way — from Syria to Iraq. Iraq's exports of oil, its main moneymaker, have been under tight UN supervision since the Gulf War. — (AFP, Damascus)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)