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Jordan, Iraq follow up on progress in implementing economic deals

Prime minister meets Iraqi industry minister, group of Iraqi businessmen as business forum opens

By JT - Feb 23,2019 - Last updated at Feb 23,2019

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz Saturday meets Iraqi Minister of Industry and Minerals Saleh Jubouri and Iraqi business people over enhancing bilateral economic and trade relations. (Photo courtesy of Petra)

AMMAN — Prime Minister Omar Razzaz on Saturday met Iraqi Minister of Industry and Minerals Saleh Jubouri over enhancing bilateral economic and trade relations.

The two sides underscored the importance of implementing the newly-signed agreements including activating the 2017 Iraqi Cabinet decision to exempt from custom fees a list of Jordanian products, which are either not produced in Iraq or their production does not cover the need of the Iraqi market.

Talks also went over the Kingdom’s facilities granted to Iraqi goods imported through the Aqaba Port involving offering discounted port rates up to 75 per cent.

Discussions also covered the planned a joint economic zone in the border area, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. 

Officials have said that the zone will provide an opportunity for Iraqi industries to benefit from exemptions and advantages under free trade agreements the Kingdom has signed with several countries and to penetrate markets with a total population that exceeds 1 billion people.

The procedures that have been implemented so far to serve this end include a Cabinet decision that sets the coordinates of the zone inside the Kingdom, and the government’s allocation of a 2,000-dunum plot for the project, with the possibility of expansion to 10,000 dunums.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply Tareq Hammouri and the Jordanian Ambassador to Iraq Muntaser Oqlah attended the meeting, which was held at the Prime Ministry.

In early February, Jordan and Iraq signed several agreements that govern their cooperation in the various fields, including a deal under which Baghdad would supply the former with 10,000 barrels of Kirkuk oil daily, as the door-to-door freight shipping process began and customs exemptions for Jordanian products went into effect.

Also on Saturday, Razzaz met separately with a group of Iraqi businessmen over prospects of further cooperation and joint job-generating ventures, Petra reported.

The premier expressed hope that the improvements witnessed in Amman-Baghdad relations would reflect on the living conditions of the Jordanian and Iraqi people in the form of jobs, stressing the Kingdom’s keenness on optimal economic cooperation and on its intent to remove any obstacles from the path of Iraqi investors.

Minister of State for Investment Affairs Muhannad Shehadeh told the meeting that following the deals concluded over the past three months, intensive meetings were being held to follow up on implementation and overcome any obstacles that arise in the process.

Iraqi Ambassador to Jordan Safiah Suheil outlined the developments in Jordan-Iraq economic cooperation and highlighted the investment opportunities resulting from the growing partnership and those related to the rebuild Iraq process.

In a related development, Hammouri and his Iraqi counterpart attended the Jordanian-Iraqi Business Forum meeting in Amman.

Hammouri described the deals signed recently between the two countries as “a great achievement” and a win-win outcome, adding that the Jordanian side “would not allow any violations to what has been agreed from its end and will be closely watching” the implementation process.

The minister encouraged the private sector in both neighbours to “step forward and seize the opportunity” and urged Jordanian businessmen to “build genuine partnerships with Iraqi peers”.

For his part, Fathi Jaghbir, president of the Amman Chamber of Industry, the organiser of the event, urged intensified efforts to facilitate trade flow between the two countries to increase the trade volume to the envisaged levels.

Jaghbir noted that Jordan’s exports to Iraq amounted to $594 million in the first 11 months of 2018, against $2 million in imports.

Exports to Iraq in 2017 stood at a total value of some JD367.7 million in 2017, with a 36 per cent increase in July 2018, compared with the same period the year before, data from the Department of Statistics showed.

Iraq Industries Federation’s President Ali Saedi said Iraq welcomes made-in-Jordan products provided that they do not affect Iraqi industries, while he urged the Jordanian side to keep an eye on the quality of Jordanian merchandise bound for the eastern neighbour “to protect the reputation of Jordanian industries”.

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