The value of trade between Baghdad and Damascus is expected to climb to more than $1 billion in 2001, Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammad Mehdi Saleh said Saturday, June 30, at the opening of a Syrian fair.
"This trade fair is part of the measures taken by the two countries to enlarge cooperation and commercial exchanges under the free trade zone" agreement between the two Arab neighbors, he said.
More than 120 Syrian industrial firms are taking part in the week-long fair in Baghdad. Syria and Iraq, which has been under UN embargo since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, have set up trade offices in each other's capitals, although they do not have diplomatic relations.
Saleh said in mid-June that Iraq and Saudi firms had signed contracts worth $638 million over the past four years under a UN exemption to the sanctions regime.
Also earlier this month, Iraq announced the opening of a free trade zone in Al-Qaem near the Syrian border, following the implementation of a free trade agreement signed in January.
Ties between Iraq and Syria, governed by rival branches of the pan-Arab Baath party, have been on the upswing since the two former rivals launched a trade-driven normalization process in 1997.
Syria and Iraq severed ties in 1980, when Damascus sided with Tehran in its 1980-1988 war against Baghdad. — (AFP)
© Agence France Presse
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)