Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat led the preparatory ministerial level meetings for the Egyptian-Iraqi Joint Higher Committee, which is currently being held in Baghdad from 28 to 31 October.
This is the committee’s third session since it was established in 1988, with the first session taking place in 1988 and the second in 1989.
The closing meeting of the Egyptian-Iraqi Joint Higher Committee, on 31 October, was headed by Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and his Iraqi counterpart Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. The meeting will look to implement the outcomes of the tripartite summit held last August between Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan.
Minister Al-Mashat delivered a speech at the Ministerial Preparatory Committee’s opening session. In it, she said that the respective Egyptian and Iraqi leaderships have a strong will supported by a clear vision to work to remove all obstacles towards strengthening joint cooperation between the two countries. She noted that this will help in achieving strategic integration at the economic, commercial, and investment levels.
She clarified that the Ministry of International Cooperation is looking forward to making this joint committee’s work a success. The ministry will also follow up on its results, and continuously communicate with all parties to remove any obstacles that might prevent the implementation of any of the committee’s decisions.
“We will present discussions and documents we prepared to the heads of the committee tomorrow, that will help organise and develop bilateral relations in all fields, to support our economic path and open up prospects for development,” said Minister Al-Mashat.
Suggested areas of cooperation
Minister Al-Mashat said that the agreements and cooperation proposals are crucial in strengthening the mutual relations between Iraq and Egypt.
The committee discussed cooperation in trade exchange and industrial collaboration, arrangements to establish a logistical area for storing Egyptian goods on the Iraqi-Jordanian borders, and securing a commercial centre for Egyptian products in Baghdad.
It also reviewed the development of local industries, innovation and entrepreneurship, and the exchange of commercial information and data of exporters and importers. This will all take place while ensuring the free movement of Egyptian goods to the Iraqi market, and the entry of Egyptian trucks to Iraqi territories.
During the meeting, discussions were also held on cooperation in: oil; gas; electricity; energy; housing; transportation; health; education culture; media; women’s empowerment; sports; youth; Egypt’s expertise in digital transformation; and the importance of collaborating in critical issues, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister Al-Mashat affirmed the mutual keenness for the participation of Egyptian companies in Iraqi infrastructure projects. This comes as part of the Iraqi government’s efforts to reconstruct the areas affected by terrorist attacks in the previous period.
The minister noted that there are distinct opportunities for Egyptian building materials and exports to enter the Iraqi market during the current stage, and for work to activate the land route between Egypt and Iraq. This will contribute to revitalising the intra-trade movement, increasing investments between the two countries, and maximising mutual benefit from both the Egyptian and Iraqi market.
She added that the committee will also work to return Egyptian workers to the Iraqi market, especially in light of the historical role of Egyptian labour in Iraq during the 80s.
Overall, the Ministry of International Cooperation is keen on upgrading bilateral relations between Egypt and Iraq in all fields. This is due to there being a desire for Egyptian businessmen to be present in the Iraqi market, and to participate in reconstruction projects.
The Egyptian-Iraqi Joint Business Council will hold its meeting on the sidelines of the committee, with the participation of Egyptian and Iraqi businessmen in Baghdad, said the minister. This will take place to lay down detailed scenarios for entering into commercial and investment partnerships that serve the interests of the two countries.
She also stressed the importance of advancing joint Arab support in all areas. This would include coordinating bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the face of unprecedented challenges, including those presented by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, facing the Arab nation at the present time, and which needs regional cooperation.
Minister Al-Mashat also praised the great efforts made over the course of two days by members of the preparatory committee, the recommendations they reached, and the bilateral draft documents that were prepared.
In recent months, the Egyptian minister held virtual meetings with Iraq’s Ambassador in Cairo and a permanent representative to the Arab League, Ahmed Nayef Rashid Al-Dulaimi. The bilateral meetings took place to discuss preparations for convening the Egyptian-Iraqi Joint Higher Committee, the depth of Egyptian-Iraqi relations, and the Egyptian government’s aspiration to develop those relations.
Established and signed on 5 July 1988, the Egyptian-Iraqi Joint Higher Committee represents an important mechanism of Egyptian economic diplomacy, to coordinate international cooperation frameworks with Iraq.