Iraqi President Saddam Hussein chaired Wednesday, March 7, a meeting of the Revolutionary Command Council which ratified the free trade agreement signed between Iraq and Egypt on January 18, reported the official Iraqi news agency INA.
A short announcement released after the council’s meeting stated that the free trade agreement is expected to promote "Arab economic unity and mutual prosperity."
The free trade agreement was initialed January during a visit to Cairo by Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan. It was considered a step towards the establishment of an Arab common market, but at this stage it will largely remain symbolic because Egypt is still committed to trading with Iraq only within the confines of the UN sanctions program.
Egypt is Iraq's largest trading partner in the Arab world and its fifth largest trading partner internationally, following Russia, China, France and India. Egypt broke off ties with Iraq in 1991 during the Gulf crisis, but resumed diplomatic relations last November at the level of charge d'affaires.
Trade ties between the two countries were picked up in 1996, when the United Nations launched the oil-for-food program, allowing Iraq to sell oil through the United Nations in order to buy food, medicine and other essential items. Sanctions have been imposed on Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
Iraq’s trade accord with Egypt was followed by similar signings with Syria and Tunisia. Iraq is now pushing forward such agreements with Jordan and Lebanon. — (Albawaba-MEBG)
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