Baghdad announced that a free trade agreement with former rival Syria signed earlier this year went into effect Sunday, March 31.
”As of April 1, exchanges of goods and merchandise between Iraq and Syria will be exempt from tariffs and will not need prior authorization," Trade Minister Mohamed Mehdi Saleh told state television late Saturday.
Iraq signed the free trade pact with Syria on January 31, its third such agreement with an Arab country following the 1991 Gulf War. Treaties have also been signed with Egypt and Tunisia.
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, Baghdad)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)