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Syria, Iraq to exchange transit points for imports

DAMASCUS, Feb 5 (KUNA) -- The Syrian-Iraqi transport and communication committee agreed that each state is to function as transit portal for the other's imports, both destined for the local market or regional outlets, and to facilitate transit of goods by sea between the two nations.
The agreement was reached at conclusion of the meeting held in the Syrian capital, and followed discussion of bolstering cooperation and implementing agreements.
In the field of air transport, the agreement stated upon the cancelation of bank guarantees for payment of land services. In terms of land transport, it stated upon increase of traffic volume through existing crossing points, as well as on coordination and drafting of a mechanism to facilitate rail transport. It also stated on setting a date for official announcement of a rail connection point before the end of February.
Concerning motorway traffic, the two sides agreed upon equal volume of traffic of goods in either direction, as well as on discussion and consideration of specific transit routes. The two sides also agreed on follow up meetings in Baghdad later this month to finalize the recommendations and resolutions of the joint ministerial committee, including those relating to setting up joint free trade zones.
Iraq is Syria's top trade partner, most specifically in terms of export destination.
Iraqi sources had recently declared the value of Syrian exports to the country at over five billion US dollars, with a forecast of increase to seven billion in 2012.(end) tk.wsa KUNA 051226 Feb 12NNNN