Iraq has signed contracts to buy 10,000 Toyota cars and mini-buses, $300-million worth of Volvo bulldozers and 500 buses from the Egyptian firm Al-Nasr, newspapers reported Wednesday.
Al-Rafidain weekly said Iraq signed a contract with Japanese firm Toyota during the Baghdad international trade fair for around 5,000 cars and a similar number of mini-buses. Contracts have also been signed with Swedish company Volvo for bulldozers worth $300 million and Al-Nasr for 500 buses, Al-Ilam said.
Ahmad Wakil, the Mercedes and Renault dealer in Egypt, said he had "already exported 530 minibuses, 66 buses, 46 fire engines and 12 petrol tankers for more than 40 million dollars. We hope to seal other contracts," he told AFP at the fair, adding his company had just opened a workshop in Baghdad.
And Kamal Khairallah of Egypt's Al-Handasiya car company said a contract had been signed six weeks ago "to export tractors and transport vehicles for Baghdad's municipality. We are about to negotiate another bigger contract," Khairallah said, adding that "Egypt occupies third place after Russia and China when it comes to contracts signed under the UN oil-for-food program".
Egypt and Iraq re-established full diplomatic relations on Tuesday after a nine-year freeze. Relations between Baghdad and Cairo, which Iraq broke off after Egypt joined US-led forces in the January 1991 Gulf war, have steadily improved in the past four years, with officials making visits and trade restored.
Egyptian exports towards Iraq have increased over the last two years to stand at $1.2 billion in 1999. All the contracts were sealed under the UN oil-for-food program, initiated in late 1996 to allow Baghdad to sell crude to finance imports of food, medicine and other essential goods.
The United Nations said Tuesday that Iraq had sold more than $37 billion worth of crude oil, or more than 2.146 billion barrels, since the beginning of the program.
Iraq has almost halted car imports since 1990, when UN sanctions were imposed for its invasion of Kuwait, largely due to the collapse of the dinar. Most of the ageing vehicles on Iraqi roads are in poor condition. — (AFP, Bagdhad)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)