A handout picture released by the Iraqi Presidency shows President Barham Saleh (R) receiving Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli for talks in the capital Baghdad, on October 31, 2020. AFP
The Egyptian-Iraqi Higher Committee concluded its meetings on Saturday with inking 15 joint cooperation memorandums of understanding, marking a new era of economic relations between the two countries.
The closing meeting was chaired by Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.
The committee convened over four days, from 28-31 October, for the first time in 30 years; this being the third meeting the committee has held since its inception. In attendance were Madbouly, Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of Trade and Industry Nevine Gamea, and a number of Egyptian and Iraqi officials.
The inked agreements aim to boost joint cooperation between the two countries and organise an economic-trade forum with the participation of the chambers of commerce and the concerned ministers from the two sides.
They also covered areas of investment, stock market, roads and bridges, irrigation and water resources, environment, health, consumer protection, justice, international expos, anti-dumping, maritime, and industrial cooperation.
The meetings also discussed and set frameworks that target enhancing economic cooperation, which will be drafted in agreements to be signed soon.
Al-Mashat stated that the committee reconvening opens a new chapter in the joint relations between Egypt and Iraq. By tapping into the significant potential and accumulated experiences both countries have, the committee is expected to push political and economic ties forward, and increase trade exchange and joint ventures between both countries.
The first meeting was held in 1988 and 1989 under the Higher Committee Agreement that was signed in 1988.
Al-Mashat noted that the International Cooperation Ministry will follow up with the implementation of the higher committee’s meetings' results and recommendations in coherence with all concerned bodies, for the sake of attaining the objectives of the Iraq-Jordan-Egypt Summit that was held in August.
On 25 August, a one-day summit between Iraq, Jordan and Egypt was held in Amman in order to discuss further economic cooperation and joint security efforts in light of the growing attacks by extremist groups and harsh impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy of the three countries.
“The committee meetings discussed a number of projects that contribute to achieving economic development in the three countries, including inter-linking the electricity grids of Egypt and Iraq through Jordan, extending an Iraqi natural gas pipeline to Egyptian ports, and establishing a petrochemical factory in Iraq,” said Al-Mashat.
She also asserted the keenness of the Egyptian public and private sectors’ companies to participate effectively in Iraq's reconstruction efforts, highlighting the potential that the Egyptian economy enjoys that can help in this regard.
In September, Al-Mashat met with the ambassador of Iraq and permanent representative to the Arab League Ahmed Nayef Al-Dulaimi, in Cairo, to discuss developments of the Egyptian-Iraqi Joint Higher Committee, where they emphasised Egypt’s keen interest to expand relations with Iraq in all economic cooperation aspects.
On his side, Al-Dulaimi held a series of meetings with Egypt’s ministers of housing, investment, industry, and international cooperation to discuss the role of Egyptian companies in the reconstruction of Iraq.
The head of the federation of Arab contractors estimates that Iraq requires between $150-$200 billion for reconstruction.