SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabia, Iraq mull special economic zone on border

May 25, 2023
The fifth session of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council was held on Thursday in Jeddah
The fifth session of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council was held on Thursday in Jeddah

JEDDAH — Saudi Arabia and Iraq discussed establishing a special economic zone on the borders of the two countries.

The fifth session of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council was held on Thursday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The meeting was held in the presence of several princes, ministers and members of the Council and heads of the sub-committees from the Saudi and Iraqi sides.

The Saudi side was headed by Minister of Commerce Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi, while the Iraqi side was headed by Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Planning, and Chairman of the Council Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ali Tamim.

The two countries praised the successful efforts of the countries of the OPEC+ group in promoting the stability of the global oil market, stressing the significance of continuing such cooperation and the need for all participating countries to adhere to the OPEC+ agreement in a way that serves the interests of producers and consumers alike to support the global economic growth.

The two sides commended the progress in the work of the joint team for implementing the Saudi-Iraqi electricity connectivity project with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts (MW) as per the principles of the agreement signed between the two sides, stressing their keenness and aspiration to expedite the completion of a tender for the implementation of the project.

The two sides also stressed the importance of meeting the requirements for implementing renewable energy projects at a capacity of 1,000 MW and continuing consultations and meetings for implementing the Nibras Al-Sharq Petrochemical Project.

They affirmed their determination to increase the pace of economic and investment cooperation by upgrading investment relations to the level of promising investment opportunities and projects through joint efforts to create a fertile and catalyst investment environment, provide appropriate investment conditions, intensify delegations' mutual visits, periodically hold joint investment events to explore promising investment opportunities and stimulate the government and private sectors to access qualitative trade and investment exchanges in order to realize the aspirations of the two peoples by launching a range of joint initiatives and supporting companies to join government competitions.

Iraq renewed its invitation to Saudi companies to invest in promising opportunities provided in various fields in Iraq.

The meeting discussed establishing the Saudi-Iraqi investment company, wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund and reviewed opportunities to build investment partnerships in Iraq and various investment opportunities in several sectors.

The two sides commended the intra-trade growth between the two countries, which reached $1.5 billion in 2022, an increase of 50% compared to 2021, reflecting the depth and sustainability of economic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

The two sides agreed to continue to enhance exchange trade relations, benefiting from the opening of the new port of Arar and accelerating the opening of the Jumaima border crossing.

The Kingdom also praised the economic reforms pursued by the Iraqi government. The two sides reiterated their keenness to enhance joint economic cooperation, which aims to achieve stability and economic prosperity for their citizens, and enhance their ability to overcome the challenges posed by the recent international crises.

Furthermore, they hailed what has been achieved in the financial sector, as the branch of the National Bank of Iraq will contribute to facilitating the process of intra-trade, as well as the branch of the Trade Bank of Iraq when it starts its operations and the Saudi-based Arab National Bank's announcement with the strategic partner "Arab Bank" to establish an Arab Bank branch in Iraq", to support the promotion of joint investments, and the agreement to avoid double taxation, which is expected to enter into force soon.

Cooperation between the two central banks in the two countries includes providing training courses for employees of the Central Bank of Iraq in several banking fields.

The two sides also agreed on cooperation between the two central banks in financial technologies and the existing coordination between other financial agencies such as the ministries of finance and financial market authorities.

Iraq appreciated the Kingdom's announcement of allocating $1.5 billion for the reconstruction of Iraq during the International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq, held in Kuwait from 12-14 February 2018.

The two sides called for intensifying scientific, knowledge and educational cooperation between the two countries, maximizing the benefit from previous programs and initiatives, establishing academic and research partnerships among the universities and higher education institutions in the two countries, and building 20 educational buildings in Iraq, with the Iraqi side readiness to overcome all direct obstacles to implement the project. The Council's secretariat has been assigned to follow up on the implementation in coordination with the relevant authorities.

The two sides agreed to develop a vision and a mechanism for cooperation and investment encouragement in the field of tourism between the two countries. They also agreed on a joint action plan for 2023-2024 and to start working on it through sub-committees emanating from the Council and following it up directly by the two secretariats of the Council. — SPA


May 25, 2023
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