Iraq’s Ministry of Trade has requested support and assistance from the United States to help his country join the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The National Iraqi News Agency (NINA) reports that following talks with the Iraqi-US Commercial Committee, Minister Khayri-allah Babakir [Dr Khairallah Hassan Babiker] (pictured) said:
“Iraq has a lot of opportunities that can be of benefit to U.S. companies in areas such as reconstruction and to encourage the private sector to contribute to the development of trade and economic cooperation.“
Iraq’s commercial attaché in Egypt said on Monday that the Arab League has set a 2012 deadline for the completion of a unified customs table in preparation for the 2015 launch of the Arab Customs Union.
“The customs tables include all the goods that are traded in the world, and therefore rerquire enormous effort,” Ali Abdul-Zahra told AKnews.
Zahra explained that the 2012 completion of the tables would give the participating states three years to discuss and finalize the working policies of the customs union before its launch.
Plans for the Arab Customs Union, to be established by 2015, were initially announced at the Arab League’s 2009 Arab Economic and Social Development Summit in Kuwait.
The establishment of the union is planned to lead to an Arab common market by 2020, and to increase inter-Arab trade and integration.
The Arab customs union resolution contains 17 chapters and 179 articles regulating economic and trade relationship between Arab countries, and aims to boost trade and investment among member states.
“The continuing efforts to unify customs throughout the Arab world are important,” Zahra said, adding that the union will “contribute to the increase in intra-regional and Arab trade with the outside world, which will affect the welfare of the Arab people in general”.
The director of economic relations in the Federal Trade ministry said on Monday that his ministry backed the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s decision to enter into a third round of negotiations over granting Iraq permanent membership.
Hashem Hatem told AKnews that Iraq is working to a well-prepared plan to raise its status from observing member to permanent member of the WTO without affecting the country’s internal economic situation.
Hatem said that Iraq has plans to send an official delegation to Morocco in order to gain an in-depth vision of the process of attaining permanent membership of the organization.
“Iraq passed two important rounds in 2007 and 2008 in which it reviewed its efforts in developing its commercial situation and will begin the third round this year,” he said.
The federal Trade Ministry said earlier that the WTO is suitably “convinced” by the legislation approved by the Iraqi parliament to support the country’s trade policy.
The WTO was established in 1995 and comprises 147 countries with permanent membership. The organization aims to promote a world economy that preserves the rights of both consumers and producers through internationally agreed regulations.
An adviser to the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, said on Thursday that in the coming Arab League Summit in Baghdad, Iraq will push for the creation of an “exclusive” Arab trade organization, similar to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The organization is to boost trade and economic cooperation among the oil producing, industrial and commercial Arab countries, Salam Qurayshi told AKnews.
The Arab states are expected to convene in Baghdad on March 23 to take part in the next Arab Summit; Iraq has not hosted the summit since May 1990 due to the economic and political sanctions.
The Arab press stress holding the assembly in Iraq is to bring the country back into the Arab fold and to distance it from Iran, according to AKnews.
We reported last month that Iraqi Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Mahmoud al-Sheikh Radhi, had rejected the idea that Iraq should join the World Trade Organization (WTO); now a source in the outgoing Iraqi government said on Monday that Iraq is in negotiations to become a member.
An Iraqi task force was established in December 2004 to pave the way for the country’s membership in the organization, and it has officially submitted a request to the WTO expressing Iraq’s desire to join the organization.
“Iraq has taken big steps in its efforts to join the WTO especially after talks were held with the member states in the organization,” said Ibrahim Zenjili, a member of the task force, according to a report from AKnews.
He said the main duties of the task force are reducing the difference of value between the Iraqi Dinar and U.S. dollar and activating Iraq’s private sector.
Zenjili said the major condition set by the member states of the WTO for Iraq to join the organization is Iraq’s foreign debt – the country owes billions of dollars to various countries.
Established in 1995, the WTO deals with the rules of trade between nations. It currently has 153 members.