Around 80 Jordanian firms will participate in the Iraqi international trade fair that opens next week, or more than twice as many as last year, the head of the Amman Chamber of Commerce said Saturday. Othman Bdeir told the official Petra news agency that the Jordanian delegation to the Iraqi event will be led by Trade and Industry Minister Wassef Azar.
"The Jordanian participation in this year's trade fair will be outstanding because of the number and variety of firms that will take part," Bdeir said. He expected "around 80 industrial companies" to attend the trade fair that opens November 1 in Baghdad, whereas Jordan was represented by "only 30 firms" in 1999.
Bdeir expects Jordan's participation to help bolster trade between the two countries amid improved political relations between Amman and Baghdad. "Jordanian exports to Iraq increased by 70 percent over the past eight months compared with the same period last year," Bdeir said.
Last month Jordan — which depends on Iraq for all its oil needs — became the first Arab country to defy a UN air ban on Iraq by flying a humanitarian plane to Baghdad. The two countries are bound by an annual oil agreement and trade protocol, approved by the UN outside the sanctions imposed on Baghdad since 1990, and are expected to renew the accord soon.
Under the agreement, Amman receives oil from Baghdad at preferential rates and is aiming to import 4.8 million tones of Iraqi crude in 2000 in exchange for $300 million worth of goods.
Relations between the two countries deteriorated in the mid-1990s as Amman, which is friendly with the United States, hosted Iraqi dissidents on its soil. But during the Gulf war Jordan was one of the rare Arab countries sympathetic to Baghdad. — (AFP, Amman)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)