Cheap Imports Mean “Made In Iraq” Is Disappearing

“The government could help with this,” says Nabil Jaafar Abdul Redha, a professor of economics at the University of Basra. “By exempting raw materials used by the private sector from duties or by reducing their taxes so that local companies can better compete with international ones. It also needs to protect local emerging industries from international competition. It could do all this by making rules about the kinds of materials allowed into Iraq, ensuring they conform to certain standards.”

Potential investors and small local businesses also face plenty of other problems – the scarcity of land, the deterioration in infrastructure, problems with transport and power, high interest rates on loans and the lack of trust in Iraq's never-quite-stable banking sector. Although Basra is fairly safe, the ongoing national security crisis is obviously also causing issues around things like transport into other areas, the availability of materials from elsewhere in the country and the potential for employees to go into certain, unsafe areas.

Many small businesses are not particularly tech-savvy either, Abdul Redha notes. “Only around 22 percent use computers and only about 9 percent have the Internet,” he told NIQASH.

Additionally many of the small and medium-sized businesses in Basra are not formal companies and this also causes problems when it comes time to access more technology, skilled labourers or federal funding. “And this leads to corrupt and non-competitive practises,” Abdul Redha concludes.

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