Shafaq News/ In a significant move to bolster relations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, the fifth session of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council was successfully held on Thursday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening ties in diverse areas, including politics, security, trade, investment, culture, education, tourism, and energy.
Emphasizing the importance of expanding bilateral cooperation, the joint final statement of the Council highlighted the need to serve the best interests of both nations and their peoples.
Acknowledging the successful efforts of the OPEC Plus countries in stabilizing the global oil market, Saudi Arabia and Iraq stressed the significance of continued collaboration among participating nations, ensuring adherence to the OPEC Plus agreement. This cooperative approach supports producers and consumers while facilitating global economic growth.
The progress made in the implementation of the Saudi electrical interconnection project with Iraq, which plans to establish a capacity of 1000 megawatts, was praised by both countries. Their determination to expedite the bidding and awarding procedures for the project showcased the shared aspirations of their leaders and people. Furthermore, the two sides expressed their eagerness to accelerate economic and investment cooperation, seeking to elevate investment relations to the level of promising opportunities and projects in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Iraq warmly invited Saudi companies to invest across various sectors within its borders. The establishment of a Saudi-Iraqi Investment Company, fully owned by the Public Investment Fund, was discussed during the meeting. This development aims to foster investment partnerships in Iraq and explore potential investment opportunities in multiple sectors.
The growth in intra-trade volume between the two brotherly nations was lauded, with the trade exchange reaching $1.5 billion in 2022, marking a 50% increase compared to the previous year. This robust economic relationship highlights the deep and sustainable ties between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Iraq. Furthermore, the opening of the new port of Arar and the imminent launch of the Jumaimah border crossing were hailed as positive steps. Saudi Arabia also commended the economic reforms undertaken by the Iraqi government.
Acknowledging the pivotal role played by the Saudi Commercial Attaché and the Saudi Companies Center in Baghdad, both countries recognized their contributions in boosting intra-trade and facilitating investments by enabling Saudi companies to establish branches in Iraq. The National Bank of Iraq branch was highlighted as a key facilitator of intra-trade, with the Trade Bank of Iraq expected to play a similar role upon its operational launch. Moreover, the announcement of the Arab National Bank in Saudi Arabia collaborating with the strategic partner "Arab Bank" to establish a "Bank Arab-Iraq" showcased the continued progress in the financial sector.
The two sides underscored the importance of ongoing cooperation in countering extremism and terrorism, recognizing these threats as existential risks for the region and the world. They also pledged to support Iraq's efforts in collaboration with the international coalition in combating terrorism and extremism. Cooperation in securing the shared borders between the two nations was also emphasized.
Efforts to enhance transport and logistics services between Saudi Arabia and Iraq were affirmed, focusing on facilitating movement across land, air, and seaports and streamlining travel procedures and goods transportation.
The joint statement emphasized the necessity of promoting sustainable security and reducing regional tensions. It further underscored the need to intensify scientific, knowledge, and educational cooperation between the two countries. Maximizing the benefits of previous programs and initiatives and establishing academic and research partnerships between universities and higher education institutions in Saudi Arabia and Iraq were emphasized. In addition, the joint construction of 20 educational buildings in Iraq showcased the commitment to overcome obstacles hindering the project's implementation.
The Republic of Iraq expressed gratitude for the gift from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to the brotherly Iraqi people, involving the establishment of a sports stadium and the Kingdom's support for the Iraqi sports sector.
The two parties also agreed to develop a vision and mechanism for cooperation and investment promotion in the tourism sector between Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
The joint action plan for 2023-2024 was approved, with its implementation set to commence through the sub-committees established by the Council. The secretariats of both countries will closely monitor the progress.
Several memorandums of understanding were signed between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, focusing on tourism, culture, media, and news.