In an interview, Bajari added that “Iraq has not made any progress in the past few years. Its infrastructure is weak, its economic situation has been negatively influenced by the Syrian situation and the economic blockade on Iran and its relations with Turkey are shaky. Since most products come in through the border with these countries, Iraq has been paying a high price.”
Bajari believes that “the government does not have an economic strategy. Despite the presence of economic expertise in the country, there are none in the government. Moreover, the old laws that are applied to the economy today are not helping.”
Last June, Iraq had declared its decision to delay the implementation of the customs’ law, after it was legalized a few months earlier in the parliament. The reason was “the absence of work mechanisms and the rise of the price of products in the Iraqi markets,” according to the Ministry of Finance.
The customs’ law gives the government the right to amend the stipulated customs in the customs charts and the pricelists of agricultural products, based on a decision from the Minister of Finance. This could be done in emergency situations for economic and monetary purposes that necessitate protection measures or reciprocity.
Bijari says, “There are countries and figures standing behind the suspension of this law. They want Iraq to remain the only outlet that imports their goods. The political figures that are accused of standing in the way of legalizing the law have companies and money that are being managed through importation activities. Consequently, it is to their benefit to keep the customs suspended in order to earn gains and huge lumps of money. Naturally, this happens at the expense of building a new Iraqi government and fostering local production.”
Omar al-Shaher is a contributor to Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse. His writing has appeared in a wide range of publications including France’s LeMonde, the Iraqi Alesbuyia magazine, Egypt’s Al-Ahaly and the Elaph website. He previously worked for Al-Mada covering political and security affairs and as a correspondent for the Kuwaiti Awan newspaper in Baghdad in 2008-10.