One striking characteristic of business in Iraq is the extent of state-ownership of enterprise and assets. Mudher Kasim, a senior advisor to Iraq's Central Bank, claimed that “the problem in Iraq is that 90 percent of the wealth of the nation is in the hands of the government. So centralism always dominates the mindset everywhere”.
Last week an economist argued that the “best solution for the return of Iraq’s industrial activity” is to privatise all companies affiliated with the Ministry of Industry, and adjust the prices of their products to compete with imported products from industrial countries.
It is surely a coincidence that within days the Deputy Minister for Industry announced a plan to divest the Ministry of the 250 production facilities it currently owns, starting with “joint strategic partnerships on a 15-year production-sharing basis” for several businesses in the cement, petrochemical, steel and pharmaceutical sectors.