By John Lee.
The economic agreements signed between Kuwait and Iraq have recently raised concerns among Iraqi experts, who warned against “political courtesy” at the expense of the country’s interests in relation to the proposed free trade zone on the border between the Iraqi city of Basra and Kuwait.
A member of the Council of Basra, Mohamed Al-Fatlawi, expressed reservations about the idea of establishing a free trade zone between Iraq and Kuwait, insisting his opposition stemmed “from the simple reason that it will negatively affect the Iraqi Port of Al-Faw, which is being constructed on the waters of the Arabian Gulf”.
He explained that “the goods imported by Iraq from Kuwait are two hundred times more than those exported by Iraq to Kuwait”.
“The presence of a free economic zone means that the port is no longer useful,” Al-Fatlawi lamented, adding that: “The ships come to Mubarak Al-Kabeer Port in Kuwait and are unloaded there, but arrive at the free zone without paying any fees. So, it will be cheaper than coming through Al-Faw Port where tariffs are imposed.”
Jamal Al-Mohammadawi, a member of the Oil and Energy Committee, also said that the free zone could have a negative impact on the Port of Al-Faw. “We will recommend that the government take this issue into account, so that there won’t be any agreements at the expense of trade and import from Iraqi ports,” the New Arab reported Al-Mohammadawi as saying yesterday.”
The committee member added:
“This year an amount of $400 million has been allocated from the budget to complete the Port of Al-Faw, and if the issue of the free zone is not dealt with, the ships and boats will come to the Kuwaiti port of Mubarak and take the corridor through Kuwait to the market or free zone directly, without the need to complete their way and reach the Iraqi Port of Al-Faw.”
(Source: Middle East Monitor)