Iraq, Jordan to sign free-trade agreement

Iraq, Jordan to sign free-trade agreement

Azzaman, June 2, 2007

Iraq and Jordan are in talks for a free-trade agreement to boost commercial ties between the countries.

Iraqi Trade Minister Abdulfalah al-Sudani and his Jordanian counterpart Salem Khazaa have met recently in Amman to work out a framework for the agreement.

Sudani said he would send a special team to Amman “to revitalize trade exchange and work on the free-trade pact.”

However, Sudani admitted that the flow of trade between the countries was facing “some hurdles.”

Jordan was Iraq’s top trade partner before the 2003 U.S. invasion. Amman received all its energy needs from Baghdad at preferential treatment.

Bilateral trade, which surpassed $1 billion a year, has dropped substantially with Iraq now importing most of its needs from Iran, Syria and Turkey.

The upsurge in violence has affected trade. The highway to Amman is dangerous with bandits and rebels attacking trucks and passengers.

The countries signed a memorandum of understanding following the U.S. invasion under which Iraq was to meet up to 30 percent of Jordan energy needs estimated at more than 100,000 barrels a day.

But the lack of security, Sudani said, has made it difficult to implement the agreement.

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source: Azzaman