By Haqi Ismael
Azzaman, April 22, 2009
Iraq and Syria are holding intensive talks with the aim of signing 20 new deals that will see the value of their bilateral trade skyrocketing to nearly $3 billion in two years, according to a Syrian cabinet minister.
Syrian Minister of Economy and Trade Amer Hosni Lutfi made the remarks on the fringes of a landmark visit by Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Otri to Baghdad.
“The current value of bilateral trade is $800 million, two thirds of it is in Syria’s favor,” Lutfi said. “We are supposed to expand bilateral trade so that it will hit $3 billion within two years.”
The Syrian premier is heading a large delegation to Iraq, in the first such high-ranking visit by Syrian official to the country in more than three decades.
Lutfi said the Iraqi market was in need of Syrian goods and the opportunity to expand “transit trade” between the countries was huge.
His Iraqi counterpart, Abdulfalah al-Sudani, said there was a desire at the political leadership in both countries to “bypass the complexities of the previous period and move ahead to formulate relations within a bilateral framework that will include all aspects.”
Sudani said the agreement expected to be signed during Otri’s visit “will cover 20 deals of cooperation in various areas.
These spheres, he said, should include “commerce, reconstruction, investment, security, oil, finance, energy, power, and politics, among others.”