Iraq is to open a free trade zone near the Syrian border under the terms of an accord with Damascus launched in April, the Iraqi customs chief said Sunday, June 17.
Hamid Shaker Mahmoud, quoted in Al-Ittihad newspaper, said the zone would be inaugurated soon in the western town of Al-Qaim under the terms of the free trade accord, but he gave no date.
Iraqi authorities in 1999 set up two other free trade zones, in the northern town of Fleifil and in Khor Zubeir, in the southern region of Basra.
"Iraq seeks to attract Arab investors," said Mahmoud, adding that a Saudi firm was already operating in the Khor Zubeir zone where it had built several factories.
"The Saudi firm was one of the first investors in the zone," the customs chief said, without identifying the company. He said Indian, Italian and Spanish firms had also applied to join the venture.
Ties between Baghdad and Riyadh have been severed since the 1991 Gulf War triggered by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
Trade Minister Mohammad Medhi Saleh said Saturday that Iraq and Saudi firms had signed contracts worth $638 million over the past four years under a UN exemption to a sanctions regime slapped on Baghdad for the 1990 invasion. ― (AFP, Baghdad)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)