Iraq has authorised US companies to invest in Khor Zubeir free trade zone in the southern region of Basra, the Iraqi customs chief said Sunday, july 1.
"Iraq has authorised investors from the United States and Saudi Arabia to invest in Khor Zubeir," 600 kilometres (400 miles) from the capital, Hamid Shaker Mahmoud said, quoted by the weekly Takrit newspaper.
Baghdad's relations with both Washington and Riyadh were severed during the 1991 Gulf War which saw a US-led coalition expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait after a seven-month occupation.
Mahmoud added that Iraq had approved a "project for a factory manufacturing insulating cables and financed by a Saudi investor, the biggest in Khor Zubeir".
Iraq, which has been under embargo since the invasion of Kuwait but is allowed to trade under a UN program, set up free trade zones in Khor Zubeir and in the northern town of Fleifil in 1999.
Mahmoud said last month that Iraq will also open a free trade zone near the Syrian border under the terms of an accord with Damascus launched in April.
"Only Israel is banned from these zones," he said, adding that he was ready to authorize Kuwaiti investments.
"Iraq has no objection to examining demands from Kuwaiti investors if they meet the required criteria," said the chief of Iraqi customs and free zones.
US companies have also applied to exhibit at the annual Baghdad trade fair, in which only one US businessman took part last year, according to organizers of the November 1-15 exhibition. — (AFP)
© Agence France Presse
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)