Iraqs Trade with the World: Data and Analysis
Iraq’s Trade with the World:
Data and Analysis
Updated March 25, 2005
Vivian C. Jones
Analyst in International Trade and Finance
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Iraq’s Trade with the World: Data and Analysis
In the last 25 years, Iraq’s economic involvement in the world market has
fluctuated dramatically — fluctuations brought about, in part, by damage to its oil
infrastructure during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, followed by a multinational
military response and years of multilateral economic sanctions as a result of its 1990
invasion of Kuwait.
Economic stability in Iraq has depended on exports of crude oil since the end
of World War II. Exports of oil accounted, on average, for 83% of Iraq’s annual
exports from 1980-1990 and virtually all exports since 1996. When international
economic sanctions were imposed in August 1990, Iraq’s oil sales dropped from
$10.2 billion in 1990 to $305 million in 1991. From 1991 to 1995 the regime of
Saddam Hussein declined to accept United Nations (U.N.) proposals seeking to
permit Iraq to sell limited quantities of oil to meet the needs of its people. Without
oil export revenues, living conditions in the country deteriorated sharply.
In 1996, the Iraqi government agreed to the establishment of a United Nations-
administered Oil-For-Food Program (OFF) that allowed the Iraqi government to
export limited amounts of oil and import food and humanitarian supplies under close
supervision. On May 22, 2003, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1483,
lifting all civilian trade sanctions on Iraq and providing for the termination of the
Since Iraq’s chief export product is crude oil, the country’s economic future, at
least in the short term, depends on its ability to tap into its vast oil resources.
According to U.S. Department of Energy statistics, Iraq has 115 billion barrels of
proven oil reserves, and possible reserves of as much as 220 billion barrels. Due to
years of war combined with the excesses of the Hussein regime, its oil potential has
been largely unexplored and only 17 of 80 discovered oil fields have been developed.
Despite concerns over continued insurgent activity and the stability of the
interim government that have scared away much foreign investment by major
corporations, the Bush Administration officials and others report that Iraq’s economy
is doing well. The U.S. government is engaged in efforts to attract small and medium
U.S. businesses to work and invest in the country as subcontractors on U.S.
government contracts and in the private sector. The United States has lifted most
international trade sanctions with respect to Iraq in keeping with United Nations
Security Council Resolution 1483, and has designated Iraq as a beneficiary
developing country under the Generalized System of Preferences.
This report provides detailed trade information and statistics on Iraq’s trade
with the world from 2001 to 2003 (latest data available), highlighting its major
trading partners. Data on U.S. trade with Iraq from 2002 to 2004 are also provided.
The report will be updated as events warrant.
In troduction ......................................................1
Sanctions and the Oil-For-Food Program...........................3
Iraq’s Oil Resources............................................6
Condition of Infrastructure...................................7
Major Trading Partners............................................14
Pre-War International Interests..................................15
Post-Saddam Trade and Investment Prospects......................18
U.S. Economic and Trade Policy.....................................19
Current State of Iraq’s Economy.................................19
Exim Bank and OPIC Facilitation............................21
Normalizing Trade Relations....................................22
Generalized System of Preferences...............................24
Appendix: Trade Tables...........................................26
List of Figures
Figure 1. Iraq’s Imports and Exports, 1980 - 2003........................3
Figure 2. Iraq’s Exports of Crude Oil, 1996 to 2003......................6
Figure 3. Iraq: Monthly Oil Production and Exports,
May 2003-February 2005......................................10
List of Tables
Table 1. Iraq’s Top 10 Exports, 1989..................................5
Table 2. Iraq’s Top 10 Imports, 1989.................................10
Table 3. Iraq’s Oil-For-Food Imports by Sector, 1997-2002...............11
Table 5. Top U.S. Imports from Iraq, 2002 - 2004.......................26
Table 6. Major U.S. Exports to Iraq, 2002 - 2004.......................27
Table 7. Iraq: Top 30 World Import Commodities, 2001-2003.............29
Table 8. Iraq: Top 30 World Export Commodities, 2001-2003............31
Table 9. Iraq’s Major Trading Partners, 2001-2003......................33
Iraq’s Trade with the World:
Data and Analysis
Iraq’s involvement in world trade has varied dramatically in the last 25 years.
These fluctuations have been caused, in part, by the effects of the Iran-Iraq War
(1980-1988), and the influences of Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait which led to a
multinational military response. International economic sanctions were imposed on
Iraq following the invasion pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution
661.1 From 1996 until the end of the regime of Saddam Hussein, exports and imports
were closely regulated through a U.N.-authorized Oil-For-Food Program (OFF) that
permitted the Iraqi government to sell limited quantities of oil in order meet the needs
of its people for food and humanitarian supplies. The OFF officially terminated its
operations on November 21, 2003, in keeping with U.N. Security Council Resolution
Many in Congress and the Bush Administration believe that reconstructing Iraq,
including assisting in the restoration of its economic systems, is a compelling U.S.
national interest. This belief was emphasized in the final report of the National
Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (informally known as the
9/11 Commission), which recommended that “a comprehensive U.S. strategy to
counter terrorism should include economic policies that encourage development,
more open societies, and opportunities for people to improve the lives of their
families and to enhance prospects for their children’s future.”2 The 9/11 Commission
also cautioned that if “Iraq becomes a failed state, it will go to the top of the list of
places that are breeding grounds for terrorism at home.”3
International trade and economic development are essential to Iraq’s recovery
from war, from decades of repression, and from the adverse effects of international
sanctions. In addition, Iraq’s economic success, at least in the short term, is
dependent on its ability to export crude oil, which accounted for 83% of all exports
from 1980-1989 and virtually all exports since 1996. However, continuing insurgent
attacks against oil facilities have kept post-war oil export flows below pre-war levels.
Extensive investment in the rehabilitation of Iraq’s oil facilities is also required
before pre-sanctions production levels are realized and new production can be
1 S/RES/661, August 16, 1990.
2 National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Final Report, July 22,
3 Ibid., p. 367.
This report provides, first, an analysis of Iraq’s trade with the world from the
Saddam Hussein’s assumption of the presidency in 1979 to the present, with
emphasis on the post-Saddam period. Iraq’s exports (especially its oil resources),
primary imports, major trading partners, trade during the U.N. sanctions period, and
alleged illicit trade during that period are discussed. Second, the report discusses the
progress of largely U.S.-driven economic development initiatives in Iraq, and the
continued process of normalizing Iraq-United States trade relations. Third, an
appendix provides comprehensive tables on Iraq’s exports, imports, major trading
partners, and regional trade.
Since the beginning of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 1979, distinct patterns can
be seen in Iraq’s international trade relationship with the world that seem to track its
domestic history (see Figure 1, p. 3). The first pattern corresponds to the beginning
of the Iran-Iraq War, beginning in 1980 and ending in 1988. In 1979, just prior to
the war, oil production had reached an all-time high of 3.5 million barrels per day
(bpd), decreased to 2.5 million bpd in 1980, and plummeted to less than 1 million
bpd in 1983.4 Imports during the same time period soared from about $8.5 billion
in 1979 to about $19 billion in 1982 and 1983.5 Some of the increase in that period
may be due to imports of dual-use (items with military and civilian uses)
commodities, but such a marked increase in imports might also have signaled that the
government and Iraqi industries were less able to produce food and goods
domestically in a wartime environment. By 1984, imports decreased dramatically as
the effects of the war caused Iraq’s economy to contract. The cost of living rose
sharply, the dinar was devalued, and the government and other organizations began
to fall behind in payments to foreign contractors.6
Another period emerged after the end of the war in August 1988, when both
exports and imports increased slightly until international economic sanctions were
imposed directly after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. Between 1990 and
1997 international trade virtually collapsed as both exports and imports hovered
between $400-$600 million per year.
The third pattern in Iraq’s international trade begins after the implementation
of the Oil-for-Food Program. Between December 1996 and 1998, oil exports were
limited to certain levels, and all exports were closely regulated by the United Nations
until the ending of international sanctions in 2003. Similarly, imports during this
time period were limited to food, humanitarian, and medical necessities. Imports
during this period ranged from $2 to $5 billion and exports from $6 to $17 billion.
4 “Middle East Oil and Gas,” Exxon Background Series, December 1984, p. 12.
5 The $17.5 billion figure is based on trade data collected by the United Nations. The $21
billion figure is based on the International Monetary Fund Direction of Trade Statistics
6 Sluglett, Marion F. and Sluglett, Peter, Iraq Since 1958: From Revolution to Dictatorship,
New York: KPI, p. 265.
Figure 1. Iraq’s Imports and Exports, 1980 - 2003
Iran-Iraq War Begins
International Sanctions Imposed
Iran-Iraq War Ends
1980 1982 19 84 1986 19 88 1990 19 92 1994 19 96 1998 20 00 2002
Source: IMF Direction of Trade Data
Sanctions and the Oil-For-Food Program
In August 1990, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 661, imposing
comprehensive economic sanctions following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. From 1991
to 1995, Iraq declined to accept U.N. proposals to allow Iraq to sell limited quantities
of oil to meet the needs of its people because the Hussein regime believed that these
proposals infringed on Iraq’s sovereignty and were limited in scope. The U.N.
Security Council made repeated efforts during the period to alleviate human suffering
in Iraq while pressing Iraq to comply with all relevant U.N. Security Council
resolutions. Without oil export revenues, Iraq could not import sufficient quantities
of food and medical supplies, and living conditions in the country reportedly
On April 19, 1995, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 986, which
proposed that Iraq be permitted to export $2 billion worth of oil every six months so
that the Iraqi government could use the proceeds of the oil sales to purchase food,
medicines, and other humanitarian supplies to meet the needs of its people. Iraq and
the Security Council signed a memorandum of understanding on the implementation
of the Oil-For-Food Program (OFF) on May 20, 1996 and the first Iraqi oil exports
7 CRS Report RL30472, Iraq: Oil-For-Food Program, International Sanctions, Illicit Trade,
and Investigations, by Kenneth Katzman and Christopher Blanchard.
began on December 10, 1996.8 The first shipments of food arrived in Iraq in March
1997, followed by imports of medicines in May 1997. From the program’s inception
until its suspension in March 2003, approximately $26.8 billion worth of food,
humanitarian supplies, and equipment was delivered to Iraq under the program.
Nearly 60 percent of the Iraqi population were, to some extent, dependent on monthly
food baskets received under the OFF.9 A complete discussion of the Oil-For-Food
Program is found in CRS Report RL30472, Iraq: Oil-For-Food Program,
International Sanctions, Illicit Trade, and Investigations, by Kenneth Katzman and
The U.N. Security Council continued the Oil-For-Food Program in 180-day
periods known as “phases.” The first phase ran from December 10, 1996 to June 7,
1997. The last pre-war oil exporting period was phase thirteen, which came into
effect on December 5, 2002 and was scheduled to run through June 3, 2003.10 Iraq’s
exports of crude oil during this period are shown in Figure 3 (p. 9).
On May 22, 2003, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1483, lifting all
economic sanctions on Iraq, with the exception of arms and related military supplies.
The resolution provided for the termination of the OFF within six months, and the
transfer of all remaining transactions under the program to the Coalition Provisional
Authority (CPA, referred to in the resolution as “the Authority”). In keeping with
Resolution 1483, the OFF terminated its operations on November 21, 2003.
Iraq entered the global trade marketplace in the mid-1800s as an exporter of
grains and cereals. As early as the 1930s, however, crude oil became its major export,
and exports of crude accounted for 49.3% of national income by 1953.11 In the
8 United Nations, Security Council. Letter Dated 20 May 1996 From the Secretary-General
Addressed to the President of the Security Council. Document No. S/1996/356.
9 United Nations. Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraphs 7 and 8 of
Resolution 1409 (September 2002), Document No. S/2002/1239, November 12, 2002.
10 The thirteen phases were as follows: I, December 10, 1996 to June 7, 1997; II, June 8,
1997 to December 4, 1997; III, December 5, 1997 to May 29, 1998; IV; May 30, 1998 to
November 25, 1998; VI, November 26, 1998 to May 24, 1999, extended until December 11,
December 6, 2000 to June 3, 2001, extended until July 30, 2001; X, July 4, 2001 to
November 30, 2001; XI, December 1, 2001 to May 29, 2002; XII May 30, 2002 to
November 25, 2002, extended until December 4, 2002; and XIII, December 5, 2002 to
program suspension on March 17, 2003.
11 Sluglett, M. & Sluglett, P. Iraq Since 1958: From Revolution to Dictatorship. New York:
KAI Limited, 1987, p. 35.
1980s, crude oil represented 83% annually of all Iraqi exports.12 Non-petroleum
export products in the 1980s included portland cement, fruit (mainly dates),
fertilizers, and reaction engines. Table 1 illustrates Iraq’s top export products in
Table 1. Iraq’s Top 10 Exports, 1989
SITC Rev 3 CommodityMillion $
3344-Fuel oils, nes$211.3
3341 — Gasoline and other light oils$78.8
2741-Sulfur of all kinds$39.2
6612-Portland cement $35.7
0579-Fruit, fresh or dried, nes$30.8
5222-Chemical elements, nes$27.7
Source: United Nations Trade Data
nes=not elsewhere specified.
When economic sanctions were imposed in August 1990, Iraq’s oil sales
dropped from $10.2 billion in 1990 to $305 million in 1991. From 1992 to 1995, oil
exports averaged between $500 and $600 million. Figure 2 illustrates the dollar
value of Iraq’s exports of crude oil from 1980 to 2003 as reflected in U.N. trade data.
In the year 2000, the highest level of exports achieved during the OFF, the sharp rise
in export value can also be attributed to a spike in oil prices between December1999
and September 2000.13 A closer look at Iraq’s exports between December 1996 and
March 2003 (see Figure 3) shows that despite periodic increases in the oil export
ceiling and the eventual rescission of the export ceiling in December 1999, Iraq’s oil
exports often ran significantly below the permitted level of exports. This was due,
in part, to frequent disputes between Iraqi and U.N. officials over U.N. efforts to end
illicit surcharges placed on oil exports. In addition, Iraq sometimes unilaterally
interrupted the sale of oil to protest Security Council policy or to challenge the
United States and its allies. For example, Iraq suspended its oil sales for the month
of April 2002 in protest of Israel’s military incursion in the West Bank.14 Figure 3
12 Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) calculations.
13 Department of Energy, Iraq Energy Chronology, 1980-February 2004,Energy Information
14 CRS Report RL30472, Iraq: Oil-For-Food Program, International Sanctions, and Illicit
illustrates Iraq’s semiannual oil exports under the OFF (December 1996-March 2003)
by dollar value and by volume.
Figure 2. Iraq’s Exports of Crude Oil, 1996 to 2003
Export Ceiling Lifted
$5.2 bill. Export Ceiling
$2 bill. Export Ceiling
I II II I IV V VI VI I VI II IX X XI XI I XI II
U.N. Phase Number(180-day phases from Dec. 1996 - Mar. 2003)
Value (Y1)Volume (right scale) (Y2)
Source: U.N. Office of the Iraq Programme
Iraq’s Oil Resources
Since Iraq’s chief export product is crude oil, the country’s economic future, at
least in the short term, depends primarily on its ability to tap into its vast oil
resources. According to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) analysts, Iraq has 115
billion barrels of proven oil reserves — second only to Saudi Arabia’s 260 billion
barrels of proven reserves — and possibly much more undiscovered oil in unexplored
areas, given that only about 10% of the country has been explored.15 Due to years of
war, economic sanctions, and mismanagement during the Hussein regime, Iraq’s oil
potential has been largely unexplored. Only 17 of 80 discovered oilfields have been
developed, and few deep wells have been drilled compared to its neighbors. DOE
analysts estimate that only 2,300 oil wells have actually been drilled, and, of these,
only 1,600 are currently producing oil.16
Trade, by Kenneth Katzman.
15 U.S. Department of Energy, Iraq Country Analysis Brief, Energy Information
Administration (EIA), p. 1. [http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/iraq.html].
Iraq’s all-time peak oil production was 3.7 million barrels per day in 1979, just
prior to the war with Iran. Output dropped sharply as the war began, but gradually
recovered to a similar level by 1989-1990. As a result of severe damage to the oil
industry infrastructure during the Gulf War, followed by economic sanctions, crude
oil production was reduced sharply to about 300,000 bpd.17 From 1990 to the end of
1996, U.N. sanctions prohibited exports of oil, and oil production was limited to the
amount needed to meet internal demand, plus small amounts that may have been
Condition of Infrastructure. Prior to the implementation of the Oil-for-
Food Program, the oil infrastructure was partially repaired, but often by
cannibalization and short-term substitution of parts and without access to external
equipment or technology. The Security Council, after determining that the state of
Iraq’s oil sector was “lamentable,” allowed a limited amount of investment in
equipment and spare parts for basic maintenance of the oil infrastructure (a total of
$3 billion from June 1998 to June 2001). However, according to the calculations of
U.N. oil industry experts, investment in Iraq’s oil sector from 1990 on was about
$0.60 per barrel, in contrast to the worldwide average of $1.50 per barrel. U.N.
experts forecasted declines in oil production from 5% to 15% per year if the oil
infrastructure was not improved.19 The position of the United States and its allies
during the sanctions regime, however, was that OFF funds should be used only for
short-term improvements, rather than for making long-term repairs.20
Oil industry experts assessed Iraq’s pre-war sustainable production capacity at
no higher than 2.8-3.0 million bpd, with net export potential of around 2.3-2.5
million bpd (including smuggled oil).21 Conservative estimates for restoring the oil
sector to pre-1990 levels by 2006 range between $5.0-$6.0 billion, and as much as
$20 billion may be required to reach oil production of 4 million bpd.22 Prior to the
2003 war, the regime of Saddam Hussein had a blueprint in place for doubling
capacity to 6 million bpd, with foreign oil companies playing a key role.23 In order
to reach this potential, however, the regime acknowledged that Iraq’s oil sector would
require investment at all levels, including technical services, capital equipment, and
17 United Nations, Security Council, Letter dated 6 June 2001 from the Secretary-General
addressed to the President of the Security Council, S/2001/566.
18 CRS Report RL31944, Iraq’s Economy, Past, Present, and Future, Jonathan E. Sanford,
19 United Nations. Report of the Group of United Nations Experts Established Pursuant to
Paragraph 30 of the Security Council Resolution 1284 (2000), March 2000, p. 12.
20 U.S. Department of Energy, Iraq Country Analysis Brief, p. 4.
22 Energy Intelligence Group, “Iraq Explores Limits of New Freedom,”Petroleum
Intelligence Weekly, July 5, 2004.
23 Energy Intelligence Group, “Iraq is Primed for Big Oil Opening,” Petroleum Intelligence
Weekly, March 12, 2003
infrastructure.24 Iraqi authorities estimated that the 6 million bpd target would
require an additional investment of at least $21 billion and would probably take 8 to
10 years to achieve after the lifting of international economic sanctions. Plans to
reach the target included further development of producing oilfields as well as
finding and developing additional fields in the Western Desert.
Even though Iraq’s oilfields were captured largely intact, the oil industry has
been hampered by post-war chaos and looting of its oil facilities. Damage and
continued sabotage to infrastructure, refineries, and mainline transport facilities have
slowed efforts to return exports to pre-war levels. From June 2003 to the end of
February 2005, there were 211 documented attacks on Iraqi oil pipelines.25 Many
observers believe that U.S. and Iraqi protection of oil pipelines has been improving,
and U.S. military commanders recently announced increased surveillance measures
including the deployment of airborne snipers to prevent future acts of sabotage.26
The Iraqi government has also reportedly assumed direct control of a 14,000-man
security guard force originally hired by Erinys, a South Africa-based contractor. 27
The Oil Ministry is also reportedly exploring the use of advanced technology to
protect pipelines by building so-called safe passages, or fences with sensors and
cameras around them.28 Nevertheless, attacks by insurgents on oil pipelines continue,
which has resulted in Iraq’s inability to sustain its post-war production and export
capacity on a regular basis (see Figure 3). Other difficulties in the oil supply
infrastructure, including deficiencies in electrical power and water supplies, have
further hindered production.29
Much of Iraq’s current oil production is also needed to meet domestic
consumption requirements, which averaged about 500,000 bpd pre-war, although
current requirements may be at least 100,000 bpd less. Iraqi refineries’ inability to
produce a sufficient supply of needed fuels to meet domestic demand led the CPA
to sponsor imports of gasoline and propane from other countries using U.S. funds.
These imports have continued beyond the transition of power and are paid through
the Development Fund for Iraq, now administered by the transitional Iraqi
government. Iraq is currently importing about 10-12 million liters of gasoline per
day from Syria, Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran at a cost of about 50 cents per
24 United Nations. Report of the Group of United Nations Experts Established Pursuant to
Paragraph 30 of the Security Council Resolution 1284 (2000), March 2000, p. 12.
25 “Iraq Pipeline Watch.” Institute for Analysis of Global Security, February 27, 2005
26 Watkins, E. “U.S. to Deploy Airborne Snipers to Protect Iraqi Pipelines.” Oil and Gas
Journal, October 13, 2003.
27 “Baghdad Plunges into Crisis as Vote Nears.” Oil Daily, January 7, 2005.
28 “Iraqi Oil Minister on Production, Security, Plan to Hand Over to Private Sector.” BBC
Monitoring Middle East, February 25, 2005.
29 CRS Report RS21626, p. 2.
liter. The subsidized fuel is then sold for less than 5 cents per liter to Iraqi customers,
at a cost of about $2.0 billion a year to the Iraqi treasury.30
Initial U.S. post-war reconstruction contracts in Iraq included two contracts for
oilfield repairs funded through the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund.31 The U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers awarded one contract for work on fields in the southern
area of Iraq to Kellogg, Brown, and Root (minimum value $500,000 — maximum
value $1.2 billion for the life of the contract), and one contract to Parsons Iraqi Joint
Venture (minimum value $500,000 — maximum value $800 million). These
contracts were issued to cover the cost of a range of services including extinguishing
oil fires, environmental assessments and cleanup of oil sites, oil infrastructure
condition assessments, engineering design and construction, oilfield pipeline and
refinery maintenance, procurement and importation of fuel products, distribution of
fuel products within Iraq, and technical assistance.32 Within the next six months, the
Iraqi transitional government also plans to spend an additional $500 million to
supply its refineries with equipment, spare parts, and chemicals, and about $900
million on projects including oil wells and pipelines.33
According to U.S. government statistics, Iraq crude oil production averaged 2.26
million bpd in 2004, up from 1.33 million bpd in 2003, but below the Iraqi Oil
Ministry’s target of 2.5 million bpd. By month, Iraq’s production of crude oil
averaged 2.112 million bpd in August 2004, 2.514 million bpd in September, 2.46
million bpd in October, 1.95 million bpd in November, and 2.1 million bpd in
December (see Figure 3).34 250,000-600,000 bpd of this amount has reportedly gone
into the Iraqi domestic market (where it generated no revenue), or was lost due to
pipeline sabotage, technical failures, and theft.35 Oil Ministry officials estimate that
revenue losses as a direct result of sabotage have amounted to $8 billion since
Operation Iraqi Freedom with $6 billion in sabotage damage during 2004 alone,
while total oil revenue from June 2003 through January 2005 has amounted to $24.08
billion according to U.S. statistics.36
30 CRS Report RS21626, Iraq Oil: Reserves, Production, and Potential Revenues, by
Lawrence Kumins. “Iraq Readies Plan for Downstream Reform.” International Oil Daily,
March 4, 2005.
31 The Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund was established by the FY2003 Emergency
Supplemental (P.L. 108-11). $2.5 billion was appropriated in this law for reconstruction
32 “U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Awards Contracts for Repair of Iraq’s Oil Infrastructure,”
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, News Release No. PA-04-03, January 16, 2004.
33 “Iraq Postpones Negotiating Upstream Deals; Repairs are Priority,” Oil Daily, July 16,
34 U.S. Department of State, Iraq Weekly Status Report, various issues.
35 “Iraqi Oil Output seen below capacity again in 2005,” Oil and Gas Journal, February 14,
36 Ibid., and U.S. Department of State, Iraq Weekly Status Report, various issues. The time
period cited is between June 2003 and mid-February 2005.
Figure 3. Iraq: Monthly Oil Production and Exports,
May 2003-February 2005
2 Producti on
Source: CPA and DoD Reports
Jul 03Sep 03Nov 03Jan 04Mar 04May 04Jul 04Sep 04Nov 04Jan 05
Jun 03Aug 03Oct 03Dec 03Feb 04Apr 04Jun 04Aug 04Oct 04 Dec 04 Feb 05
Prior to the implementation of economic sanctions, Iraq’s primary imports
included food, motor vehicles, spare parts, iron and steel, and medicines. Table 2
provides Iraq’s top ten imports from the world in 1989, the year prior to the
implementation of international sanctions.
Table 2. Iraq’s Top 10 Imports, 1989
SITC Rev 3 CommoditiesMil. $
0412 — Wheat, nes$617.3
7843 — Parts and accessories of tractors and motor vehicles, nes$170.4
6793 — Iron and steel seamed tubes$160.9
0112 — Meat of bovine animals, frozen$144.6
7812 — Motor vehicles, nes$139.6
6791 — Iron and steel tubes and pipes$137.8
0423 — Rice$132.2
6762 — Alloy steel bars, rods, nes$130.7
5429 — Mendicaments, nes$124.5
6911 — Metal structures of iron or steel,nes$105.4
Source: U.N. Trade Data. Nes= not elsewhere specified.
Figure 1 illustrates the flow of Iraq’s imports from 1980-2003. Imports rose
rapidly in 1980, peaked in 1981, and continued at a high level until 1982. Major
import commodities during that period included large imports of commodities
officially reported as trucks, spare parts, and other machinery. These imports may
have been legitimate purchases of transportation vehicles, oil machinery, and spare
parts for upgrading and repairing Iraq’s oil production facilities; however, it is also
possible that some of these purchases were converted to military use during the Iran-
Iraq War, or that Iraq’s trading partners used these trade classification categories to
hide exports of armaments and military hardware to Iraq.
Beginning in 1996, all approved imports to Iraq were monitored by U.N. staff,
who reviewed all contracts and ensured that imported goods were on a list of
commodities drafted by the U.N. Security Council. Besides food and humanitarian
supplies, the OFF also allowed Iraq to import some transportation and
communications equipment, spare parts for oil rigs and other infrastructure, and
consumer goods. Table 3 shows Iraq’s cumulative imports by sector from 1997 to
Table 3. Iraq’s Oil-For-Food Imports by Sector, 1997-2002
SectorValue of Approved Sales (U.S. $)
Communication/T r ansportation 2,016,400,979
Water and Sanitation2,000,721,136
J ustice 4,899,283
Source: United Nations. Office of the Iraq Program. Data are for the largest of the three accounts
in the Iraq Program.
Since the lifting of economic sanctions, Iraq has been flooded with new
products, including television sets from South Korea, refrigerators from Iran and
China, new and used cars from Japan and South Korea, and toasters from Germany.
Satellite telephones and portable kerosene stoves, needed because of the absence of
normal telephones and the current lack of cooking fuel, are so plentiful that prices
have declined. Satellite dishes, banned under the Saddam Hussein regime, are also
for sale. Consumers with money have a range of new choices, and the recent
appreciation of the Iraqi dinar has provided them with additional buying power.
Iraqi companies that have had almost no competition due to U.N. sanctions,
however, have had to face the full force of globalization and international
competition almost overnight. An unexpected appreciation of the dinar that made
foreign imports more attractive exacerbated the competitive challenges Iraq’s
manufacturers and state-run companies are facing. The free-market economy shocks
are of some concern to U.S. and British officials, who want to get people back to
work.37 Despite these concerns, the private industry sector is reportedly experiencing
a vibrant recovery according to U.S. officials. Domestic company registration (the
equivalent of incorporation) has tripled to about 30 per day, and unofficial estimates
indicate that private sector employment is growing to encompass between 25% and
50% of all jobs.38 Nevertheless, overall unemployment remains very high, estimated
at about 35%.39
On September 19, 2003, the CPA established a reconstruction levy
(CPA/ORD/19 September 2003/38) which, as of January 1, 2004, placed a 5% tariff
on all imported goods except food, medicine and medical equipment, clothing,
books, and goods delivered as humanitarian assistance. U.N. entities, the CPA,
Coalition forces, nonprofit organizations, other international organizations, and
foreign governments will be exempt from the levy. All proceeds are to be used to
support Iraqi reconstruction efforts. According to U.S. Department of Commerce
figures, Iraq collected over $2.7 million in reconstruction levy fees between April
15, 2004, and June 4, 2004, implying that over $54 million in non-exempt imports
entered Iraq during the same time period.40 Iraq’s transitional government has kept
the reconstruction levy in place.
37 Andrews, E. “After Years of Stagnation, Iraqi Industries are Falling to a Wave of
Imports,” New York Times, June 1, 2003. Sabbah-Gargour, R. “Arthur Daleys Flourish in
Duty-Free Zone, London Times, August 16, 2003.
38 Statements of Michael P. Fleischer, Former Director of the Private Sector Development,
Coalition Provisional Authority at Iraq Private Sector Development Briefing, August 4,
39 “Iraq: Current Situation.” Global Insight Country Report, February 2, 2005.
40 U.S. Department of Commerce, Business Guide For Iraq website, revised June 4, 2004,
[ ht t p: / / www.expor t .gov/ i r aq/ bus_cl i mat e/ busi nessgui de_cur r e nt .ht ml #expor t i ng] .
In the period during which economic sanctions were imposed, the regime of
Saddam Hussein reportedly conducted illicit oil deals with its neighbors and other
countries in order to generate funds that it could use without restriction. The regime
also allegedly imposed surcharges on oil buyers and solicited kickbacks from
suppliers of humanitarian and other civilian goods. Although there are no
authoritative figures for the value of Iraq’s illicit trade, a study released in May 2002
by the General Accounting Office (GAO) estimated that Iraq earned $6.6 billion in41
illicit revenue from oil smuggling between 1997 and March 2001.
The GAO reported that Iraq smuggled oil through neighboring states, including
Syria, Turkey, and Jordan, and imported illicit and unapproved commodities through
numerous exit and entry points along its borders. Major illicit trade routes were said
to include an oil pipeline to Syria, truck routes through entry points on the Jordanian
and Turkish borders, and shipping in the Persian Gulf.
Prior to the war, U.S. officials were primarily concerned that Iraq might be using
these illicit revenues to purchase prohibited military and weapons-of-mass-
destruction (WMD) technology. The GAO report also found, however, that the
sanctions may have been partially effective in deterring Iraq from obtaining most42
In February 2000, the Clinton Administration accused the Iraqi government of
using financial resources gained from illicit trade to build nine lavish palaces, valued43
at about $2 billion. The second Bush administration concluded that international
sanctions were not effective, and accused Iraq of using illicit revenue to finance44
active nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs.
Although illicit fuel smuggling by the Iraqi government ended after the war,
individuals are now reportedly smuggling large amounts of fuel, apparently
stimulated by lower oil prices in Iraq relative to world market prices. Some
smugglers are reportedly drilling into pipes between the refinery and shipping
terminals, according to Iraqi oil officials.45 Others are purchasing fuel in Iraq, filling
up larger trucks and cars fitted with extra fuel tanks, and driving across the border to
41 General Accounting Office. Weapons of Mass Destruction: U.N. Confronts Significant
Challenges in Implementing Sanctions against Iraq, GAO Report Number GAO-02-625.
42 Ibid., p. 6.
43 Katz, L. M., “Iraq, U.S. Lock Horns Again.” United Press International, February 10,
44 “Iraq Making the Most of Porous Sanctions,” USA Today, November 7, 2002. Rieff, D.
“Were Sanctions Right?” New York Times Magazine, July 27, 2003.
45 “Iraq Postpones Negotiating Upstream Deals; Repairs are Priority,” Oil Daily, July 16,
Jordan where the subsidized fuel can be resold at more than ten times the cost.46 The
black market within Iraq is also reportedly thriving because drivers are willing to pay
higher prices for fuel on the street rather than waiting in long lines at filling
The Iraqi Oil Ministry has tried to stamp out the black market sales and fuel
smuggling by monitoring practices at gas stations, restricting filling of jerry cans to
three stations, and raising the pump price of fuel contained in jerry cans.48 In
addition, Iraqi authorities have largely given up on the domestic network of product
pipelines, favoring the use of private tanker trucks operated by Sunni Arab truckers
to ferry the fuel from its oil refineries in Baiji and Basra. This strategy has met with
some success, in part because the use of Sunni Arabs gives locals in the Sunni
triangle a financial stake in fuel imports, as well as apparently deterring insurgents.49
These combined strategies have reportedly cut waiting times as filling stations down
to 20 minutes or less.50 Some observers also indicate that the Oil Ministry is
formulating plans to gradually liberalize the domestic products market in an
additional attempt to stifle fuel smuggling; however, any plans to increase gasoline
prices must await the formation of a new transitional Iraqi government.51
Major Trading Partners
As is the case with most oil-producing countries, many of Iraq’s leading pre-war
export trading partners were industrialized nations. In the post-war environment,
regional trading relationships, especially with Jordan and Morocco, have gained
importance. Certain trading relationships established during the OFF period, such as
imports from Vietnam, have also increased. In 2003 (latest available data), Iraq’s
top ten trading partners in terms of total trade were the United States, European
Union, Turkey, Jordan, Brazil, Australia, Russia, Japan, and Australia. Table 9 in
provides trade statistics for Iraq’s major trading partners from 2001-2003.
46 Eckholm, Erik, “On Iraq’s Border, Sailors of the Desert Smuggle Subsidized Gasoline,”
New York Times, August 21, 2004, page A7.
47 “Watchdog Monitors Petrol Stations in Baghdad, ‘Noticeable Improvement Seen’.” BBC
Monitoring International Reports, February 12, 2005.
48 Ibid., and Hunter, Catherine, “Iraq Takes the Domestic Fuel Bull by the Horns; Raises
Prices,” World Markets Analysis, February 22, 2005.
49 “Iraq Industry: Outsmarting the Fuel Saboteurs.” EIU Viewswire, March 9, 2005.
51 “Iraq Readies Plan for Downstream Reform.” International Oil Daily, March 4, 2005.
Table 4. Iraq’s Top 10 Export and Import Trading Partners, 2003
(millions of U.S. $)(millions of U.S. $)
United States$4,466.5European Union$1146.3
EU15 $1,571.5 T urkey $912.0
Canada $797.7 J ordan $596.8
Brazil $345.8 V i etnam $537.8
T urkey $102.4 Russia $183.9
J a pan $99.5 Australia $178.8
K orea $52.1 T hailand $121.8
J a pan $99.5 India $114.5
Source: International Monetary Fund, Direction of Trade Statistics. Latest third-party trade data
Pre-War International Interests
Despite economic sanctions, several countries regarded Iraq as an important
trading partner and expressed concern before the war that their national interests
might be compromised if a newly-established Iraqi government is primarily
sympathetic to U.S. interests. These countries were concerned about lost trade and
possible loss of investment opportunities in Iraq’s oil sector.
Russia. Russia’s cumulative trade turnover with Iraq from 1997-March 2003
amounted to $7.7 billion. Iraq was an important trading partner to Russia because
certain exports were sold to Iraq that were not otherwise competitive in the global
market, including Volga cars, grain harvesters, and power generation equipment.
Russian analysts estimated that the industrial sector may lose as much as $2.5 billion52
if contracts signed with the regime of Saddam Hussein fall through.
In August 2002, Russia and Iraq signed a five-year “economic cooperation” and
trade agreement valued at $40 billion. The trade package called for cooperation in53
several industry sectors, including oil, electricity, and railroads.
Russia and Iraq have signed numerous oil and gas agreements since 1997.
Russian firms had not started work on these projects, however, even though U.N.
officials had approved some of the contracts. Iraq’s oil ministry officials expressed
52 United States Congress, House Committee on International Relations. Testimony on
Russia’s Policy toward Iran and Iraq, by C. Wallander of the Center for Strategic and
International Studies (CSIS), Washington, DC, February 25, 2003.
53 Feifer, G. “Russia: Proposed Economic Agreement with Iraq Raising Questions.” Radio
Free Europe/Radio Liberty, August 19, 2002.
frustration with the inaction and, in January 2003, unilaterally terminated a major
contract with Lukoil, saying that the company had failed to fulfill its obligations
under the contract. The company called Iraq’s move “blackmail” and vowed to
contest the decision in court.54 In spite of this setback, Russia held more oil contracts
in pre-war Iraq than any of its foreign competitors — a strategic advantage Russia
fears it might lose if Iraq’s government is replaced by a regime with greater
allegiance to the United States.55 Russian oil companies continue to have an interest
in bidding on oil contracts in Iraq, and are maintaining their contacts with the Iraqi
oil ministry to that end.
France. Iraq was an important market for French goods, especially in the
capital goods, automotive, and food processing sectors. Other pre-war French
exports to Iraq included industrial, telecommunications, and electrical equipment.
The regime of Saddam Hussein considered France such an important trading partner
that in March 2002, the Iraqi embassy in Paris opened a new trade section dedicated
to continued improvement of Iraq’s trade relationship with France.56 Over 90 French57
companies attended Baghdad’s annual trade fair held the following November.
French oil companies also maintained cordial relations with Iraq’s oil officials.58
France’s major oil company, Total S A, (formerly TotalFinaElf), had secured a
memorandum of understanding with Iraqi oil officials during the Saddam Hussein
regime for drilling contracts worth a total of $7.4 billion. A successful outcome
would have doubled the group’s reserves with an added 10 billion barrels, and was
forecasted to increase its daily production by 16%.59
United States. The United States continues to be the leading importer of
Iraq’s oil. Some in the international community believed that U.S. needs for
continuous supplies of oil at lower cost and the involvement of U.S. oil interests in
Iraq played a part in leading the United States to wage war against the Hussein
regime. As early as 1997, nine U.S. oil companies, including Mobil, Conoco,
Chevron, Occidental, Arco, Exxon, Texaco, Coastal, and Amoco, reportedly
54 Business Middle East, Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), January 16, 2003.
55 “Focus: Oilfields Could Slip Out of Russia’s Reach,” Petroleum Economist, February 10,
56 Bostnavaron, F. “France Remains Iraq’s Leading European Trading Partner.” Le Monde,
September 13, 2002.
57 “Over 90 Companies Going to Baghdad Trade Fair — Iraqi Official,”Agence France
Presse, October 29, 2002.
58 Sluglett, M. & Sluglett, P. Iraq Since 1958: From Revolution to Dictatorship. New York:
KAI Limited, 1987, p. 288.
59 Marcel, Valerie, The Future of Oil in Iraq: Scenarios and Implications, The Royal
Institute of International Affairs, Briefing Paper No. 5, October 2002, p. 7
[ h t t p : / / www.r i i a .or g] .
contacted Iraq to express interest in developing Iraqi oil fields once sanctions were
Some international observers were also concerned that the initial Iraq
reconstruction contracts favored U.S. companies. Two American companies,
Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR), and Parsons, were the primary companies initially
selected for key reconstruction projects specifically related to oil development.61 The
selection of these companies and other U.S. contractors for reconstruction contracts
led to questions concerning the degree to which subsequent contracts would be open
to a competitive bidding process.62
All of Iraq’s oil assets are now controlled by the interim government. Some
analysts still express concern, however, that an Iraqi government sensitive to U.S.
interests may favor American companies when issuing future contracts for oilfield
development. The government’s creation of a supreme council to establish a
comprehensive oil policy, combined with the desire of the oil ministry to “achieve
the highest revenue possible” may indicate that, to the extent the Iraqi government
focused on long-term contracts at this time, it is intent on keeping its options open
with regard to future contract awards.63
Table 5 in Appendix B illustrates major U.S. imports from Iraq in 2003 and
Asia. Several Asian countries also had significant trade and economic ties to
Iraq, and expressed concern that their economies might suffer due to instability
caused by the war. Prior to the war, Iraq was the largest importer of Vietnamese rice,
at a total of 860,040 tons in 2002. Because these imports were conducted under the
Oil-for-Food Program, Vietnam also received a slightly higher than market-rate price
for the rice. Suspension of the OFF prior to the war was a concern for Vietnamese
officials until U.N. approval to resume shipments was given in early May 2003.64
Taiwan’s trade officials had scheduled an ambitious trade agenda for the Middle
East region and are currently seeking a role for its computer firms in the U.S.-led
reconstruction program in Iraq.65 Thailand signed a bilateral trade and investment
cooperation agreement with Baghdad in January 2002. Thailand’s pre-war exports
60 “Oil, Business, and the Future of Iraqi Sanctions.” PolicyWatch No. 283, Washington
Institute for Near East Policy, November 24, 1997.
61 “Another Contract in Place to Continue Construction in Iraq,” Coalition Provisional
Authority News Release, April 2, 2004 [http://www.rebuilding-iraq.net].
62 See CRS Report RL32229, Iraq: Frequently Asked Questions About Contracting, by
Valerie Bailey Grasso.
63 “Iraq Creates Supreme Council to Oversee Oil and Gas Industry,” Oil Daily, July 19,
64 “Vietnam Resumes Rice Exports to Iraq,” Financial Times Information. Vietnam News
Briefs. May 5, 2003.
65 “Taiwan Expresses Interest in Securing Iraq Contracts,” Asia Pulse, April 21, 2003.
to Iraq included rice and consumer products, and Thai officials expressed a desire for
deeper trade ties once U.N. sanctions were lifted.66
Asian oil companies have also been involved in contract bids in Iraq. The
China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and China North Industries
Corporation (Norinco) signed a 1997 contract with SOMO involving a $1.3 billion
investment to develop the Ahdab field in southern Iraq to a capacity of 90,000 barrels
per day. Only feasibility studies on the project could be conducted prior to the lifting
of sanctions.67 India’s ONGC and Indonesia’s Pertamina signed agreements in 2000
for oil development in the Western Desert region, and PetroVietnam signed a
preliminary agreement to develop the Amara field.68 On August 15, 2003, Japan’s
Itochu Corp. announced that it had signed a contract to import an unspecified amount
of Iraqi crude oil from October to December. Mitsubishi Corp., also from Japan,
signed a contract last month with SOMO for 40,000 bpd from August to December
Post-Saddam Trade and Investment Prospects
The current security situation, combined with uncertainties surrounding Iraq’s
stability following the transfer of power to a transitional government, has reportedly
cooled the interest of some major foreign oil companies to tap Iraq’s undeveloped oil
reserves, at least in the short term. According to John Browne, BP’s chief executive,
“Iraq is not on anyone’s radar screens right now.”70 Although Browne said that BP
would “obviously” be interested in working in Iraq’s upstream eventually, he said
“our own view is that you really do have to have to see a government in power for
some time, who has made up their mind about what they want a state oil company to
do and what, if any, role the foreign oil companies should take.”71
Despite the CEO’s comments, BP reportedly joined with other major European
oil firms (Royal Dutch/Shell, Eni, and Repsol) and several smaller firms in placing
bids for a smaller scale ($10 million) Iraqi government contract to study oil reserves
in the Kirkuk and Rumaila fields and develop a detailed plan on how to best exploit
them. A contract of this size would not normally be attractive to these oil majors, but
in this case, it may be viewed as a way to examine Iraq’s oilfield data and establish
a rapport with members of the country’s oil ministry while incurring minimal risk.72
Other oil majors, such as ChevronTexaco, are reportedly providing free upstream
66 “Iraq-Thailand Trade Looks Promising if U.N. Ends Sanctions,” Emerging Markets
Datafile, Xinhua News Agency, January 12, 2002.
67 “China Adopts Cautious Approach to Iraqi Oil,” Oil Daily, December 17, 2002.
68 Marcel, Valerie, The Future of Oil in Iraq: Scenarios and Implications, The Royal
Institute of International Affairs, Briefing Paper No. 5, October 2002, p. 7
[ h t t p : / / www.r i i a .or g] .
69 “Itochu Signs Iraqi Crude Oil Contract,” Japan Economic Newswire, August 15, 2003.
70 “Iraq: Squaring Up to Old Challenges.” Petroleum Economist, August 6, 2004.
71 “BP Sees No Rush to Join Iraqi Upstream.” Platt’s Oilgram News, June 28, 2004.
72 “BP and Shell Signal First Interest in Iraqi Oil Fields.” The Business, August 22, 2004.
technical assistance and training local engineers and oil specialists.73 In these and
other ways, the major oil companies seem to be positioning themselves for future
contracts.74 Observers report that the current indifference of the major oil companies
is leaving room for smaller companies, including Woodside Energy (Australia),
Heritage Oil (Canada), and Petrel Resources (United Kingdom), to take an active role
in exploration and development projects.75
U.S. Economic and Trade Policy
Many in Congress and the Bush Administration believe that one of the
hallmarks of success in post-Saddam Iraq will be the rejuvenation and redevelopment
of Iraq’s economy. In addition, the 9/11 Commission recommended that U.S. efforts
to counter terrorism “should include economic policies that encourage development.”
The Commission mentioned Iraq as a specific example, saying that if “Iraq becomes
a failed state, it will go to the top of the list of places that are breeding grounds for
terrorism at home.”76 Many agree that rebuilding Iraq’s economy is a compelling
U.S. national interest.
At this time, the most significant threats to economic redevelopment are
concerns about the internal security environment due to ongoing insurgency, the
viability of Iraq’s transitional government, and the continuing progress of its
transition to democracy. Some observers are also concerned that a future permanent
government of Iraq may repeal some of the CPA-established laws that favor business
development, such as laws that currently permit foreign investment and repatriation
The Bush Administration has begun the process of normalizing trade relations
with Iraq and on September 7, 2004, designated Iraq as a beneficiary developing
country under the Generalized System of Preferences.
Current State of Iraq’s Economy
Although many larger U.S. and multinational businesses not working in Iraq on
U.S. government reconstruction contracts are taking a “wait and see” approach
toward investing in the country, the Iraqi economy is reportedly growing at a rapid
pace despite persistent security and stability concerns. The Economist Intelligence
Unit (EIU) estimated that Iraq’s real gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by
73 “Iraq; Snuggling-Up Time.” Petroleum Economist, December 3, 2004.
75 “News in Brief” section, Petroleum Economist, February 8, 2005.
76 National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Final Report, July 22,
forecasts real GDP growth of 15.0% in 2005, and 10% in 2006.77 Much of the
current economic growth is reportedly due to the U.S.-appropriated funds allocated
to reconstruction of Iraq’s infrastructure being pumped into the economy. The EIU
projections are based on modest increases in oil production and exports along with
continuing stimulus from international aid money.78 The Iraq Project and Contracting
Office (PCO, formerly the Program Management Office under the Coalition
Provisional Authority) estimates that between 250 and 300 Iraqi firms are working
on reconstruction contracts and that 87,500 Iraqi employees are affiliated with the
The Bush Administration is also currently attempting to attract smaller and
medium-sized U.S. businesses to invest in Iraq despite security and stability
concerns. Although most major business opportunities still involve work on U.S.-
funded reconstruction contracts, efforts are also being made to facilitate U.S.
business contacts with Iraqi government ministries and to assist businesses in
exploring private sector investment and export possibilities.80
Some analysts note that despite the success of the election conducted on January
despite efforts to include them. Thus, the insurgency is likely to continue to pose a
threat to the political and economic reconstruction of Iraq.81
Despite security threats and continued economic hardship, many Iraqis remain
optimistic about their future according to public opinion surveys. A poll taken from
September 24 - October 4, 2005 showed that 65% expect their lives to get better in
the near future.82 The following anecdotal information is also an indicator that public
perception of the economy is optimistic:
!Consumer spending on imported goods is boosting economic
activity as these goods have become more available and more
affordable since the end of economic sanctions. There has also
reportedly been a boom in real estate.83
77 “Iraq: Risk Ratings: Economic Forecast Summary” EIU Country Risk Service, Economist
Intelligence Unit, August 1, 2004, February 10, 2005. EIU bases these figures on a 60%
chance that a stable, sovereign government will be achieved which will, in turn, alleviate
some security concerns.
78 Abolfathi, Farid, “Iraq: Current Situation,” Global Insight, August 25, 2004.
79 Web Page of the Iraq Project and Contracting Office, [http://www.rebuilding-iraq.net].
80 Department of Commerce. Iraq Investment and Reconstruction Task Force. Iraqi Private
Sector Development Briefing, August 4, 2004. A webcast of the briefing is available at
[ h t t p : / / www.expor t . go v/ i r aq/ o t h er / i r aqr e const r uct i on080404.wmv] .
81 “Iraq: Country Outlook.” EIU ViewsWire, February 10, 2005.
82 Iraq country report by Global Insight, November 2004.
83 Abolfathi, Farid, “Iraq: Current Situation, Global Insight, August 25, 2004.
!The exchange rate of the Iraqi dinar has strengthened in recent
weeks following the completion of the election process. Official
data indicates that the average rate of exchange of the New Iraqi
Dinar (NID) was NID 453 to $1.00 U.S. in 2004. According to EIU
forecasts, the dinar is expected to strengthen to an average of NID
430 to the dollar in 2005, and will appreciate further in 2006 to
about NID 200 to the dollar in 2006.84
!The Iraqi central bank has built up $5 billion in currency transactions
since the introduction of the New Iraqi Dinar which it has deposited
in the U.S. Federal Reserve.85 This could indicate that individuals
are purchasing dinars with dollars they had put aside in the event of
economic instability, and that businesses and individuals from
outside Iraq are continuing to invest in the Iraqi economy.
!Private sector business development, funded by resident business
capital and repatriation of funds from Iraqis living overseas, is
making significant progress. As many as 20,000 private sector
businesses have been officially registered in Iraq since April 2003.86
!The Second International Trade Exhibition for the Rebuilding of
Iraq, “Rebuild Iraq 2005” scheduled for April 4-7, 2005, in Amman,
Jordan has already registered more than 1000 exhibitors from over
42 countries.87 This may indicate substantial private sector interest
in engaging in business investment in Iraq.
Exim Bank and OPIC Facilitation. Although the Export-Import Bank
(Exim Bank) of the United States is not currently providing companies interested in
investing in Iraq with its usual trade financing products, the bank’s directors
approved a $500 million short-term insurance facility to support transactions through88
the Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI). The Exim Bank will insure letters of credit issued by
TBI and confirmed by a commercial bank against the failure of TBI to pay the
confirming bank under an irrevocable letter of credit. The Exim Bank further
provides comprehensive coverage on short term credits extended to TBI by an
insured bank. U.S. exporters will receive payment under letters of credit issued by
the insured bank. The Exim Bank will also consider applications under all of its
products (e.g., working capital guarantee, loan guarantee, export credit insurance, and
84 “Iraq: Country Outlook.” EIU ViewsWire, February 10, 2005.
85 “Iraq Deposits Five Billion Dollars with U.S. Federal Reserve.” Agence France Presse,
February 8, 2005.
86 Cambanis, Thanassis, “In Land of Fear, Hope Takes Root.” Boston Globe, March 20,
87 Rebuild Iraq 2005 home page, [http://www.rebuild-iraq-expo.com/].
88 “EX-IM Bank, Iraqis Sign Trade Financing Agreement.” Export-Import Bank Press
Release, October 5, 2004. The framework agreement, originally signed in December 2003,
was amended and continued on October 5, 2004 to reflect the assumption of sovereignty by
the Interim Government of Iraq on June 30, 2004.
direct loans) to support the sale of goods and services to Iraq, provided there is a
creditworthy source in a third country in the Middle East or elsewhere willing to
provide security for the loans.89
Political risk insurance is being made available through the Overseas Private
Investment Corporation (OPIC) to cover currency inconvertability, expropriation, and
political violence. Coverage is also offered that is more appropriate to contractors,
exporters, and those providing technical assistance and management services. Stand-
alone terrorism coverage is also being provided.90 In addition, OPIC has joined with
Citigroup to establish a $131 million lending facility designed to revitalize small and
medium-sized businesses in Iraq. Loans will be provided to Iraqi financial
institutions, who will in turn lend the funds to Iraqi enterprises to fund their
investment and working capital requirements.91
Normalizing Trade Relations
The Bush Administration, as authorized by Congress, has lifted most U.S.
sanctions on Iraq, beginning with Presidential Determination 2003-18 of March 24,
2003, in which the President determined that “the provision of assistance or other
financing for Iraq important to the national security interests of the United States.”92
On May 7, 2003, the President suspended the Iraq Sanctions Act of 1990 (P.L.
101-513, implemented U.S. trade embargo and U.S. compliance of U.N. economic
sanctions against Iraq), as authorized by sec.1503 of the Emergency Wartime
Supplemental Act, 2003 (P.L. 108-11). 93
On July 29, 2004, in Executive Order 13350, the President terminated the
emergency with respect to Iraq previously declared in Executive Order 12722,94
determining that the situation that gave rise to the declaration of a national
emergency under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C.
1701 et seq) and the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1501 et seq) has been
significantly altered by the removal of the regime of Saddam Hussein.95 The
89 “Export-Import Bank Support for U.S. Exports to Iraq,” Export-Import Bank Fact Sheet,
90 U.S. Department of Commerce. “Doing Business in Iraq,” Iraq Investment and
Reconstruction Task Force web page, [http://www.export.gov/iraq/bus_climate/faq.html].
91 “OPIC and Citigroup Establish Lending Facility to Revive SMEs in Iraq.” Overseas
Private Investment Corporation. Press Release, March 16, 2005. [http://www.opic.gov].
92 Presidential Determination No. 2003-18 of March 24, 2003 (68 F.R. 16165), as authorized
by sec. 507 of P.L. 108-7, the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs
Appropriations Act, 2003.
93 Presidential Determination No. 2003-23 (68 F.R. 26459), May 7, 2003.
94 Executive Order 12722 of August 2, 1990, “Blocking Government Property and
Prohibiting Transactions with Iraq,” 55 F.R. 31803.
95 Executive Order No. 13350 (69 F.R. 46055), July 29, 2004. The executive order revoked
termination of the national emergency formally ended the economic sanctions
imposed by the United States on Iraq following the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
A national emergency still exists with respect to protecting the Development
Fund for Iraq (DFI) and Iraq’s petroleum assets, and blocking property of the former
regime. Executive Order 13303 (May 22, 2003), as amended, protects the
Development Fund for Iraq (DFI), Iraqi petroleum and petroleum products from”the
threat of attachment or other judicial process.”96 The President found that such
judicial processes would constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the
national security and foreign policy of the United States.
Executive Order 13315 of August 18, 2003, blocking the property of the former
regime and certain senior officials under the same presidential authority, is also still
in effect. The executive order also authorizes the confiscation and repatriation of
additional property of the former regime, or the property immediate family members
of officials, and controlled entities, and designates that these properties be transferred
to the Development Fund for Iraq.97
On October 7, 2004, Iraq was removed from U.S. list of state sponsors of
terrorism.98 Countries on this list are barred from receiving U.S. foreign assistance,
votes by U.S. representatives in favor of international loans, sales of munitions list
(arms and related equipment and services), and stiffer licensing procedures for
exports of dual-use items (commodities that may have military as well as civilian
Congress did not authorize the lifting of sanctions on sales of “advanced
conventional weapons,” however, it did allow the President to authorize exports of
nonlethal military equipment.99 However, any nonlethal or lethal military equipment
specifically designated by the Secretary of State for use by a reconstituted (or interim)
Iraqi military or police force, and small arms designated for use for private security
purposes, are authorized.100 New regulations shifting the remaining restrictions on
Executive Order 12722 of August 2, 1990, and modified Executive Orders 13290, 13303,
96 Executive Order No. 13303 (68 F.R. 31931), May 22, 2003. Amended by Executive
Order 13364 (69F.R. 70177), December 2, 2004.
97 Executive Order No. 13315 (68 F.R. 52315), August 18, 2003.
98 Department of State Public Notice 4863 (69 F.R. 61702); Presidential Determination No.
99 Section 1608(1)(A) of the Iraq-Iran Non-Proliferation Act (P.L. 102-484) defines these
as long-range precision-guided munitions, fuel air explosives, cruise missiles, low
observability aircraft, military satellites, electromagnetic weapons, and laser weapons as the
President determines destabilize the military balance or enhance defense capabilities in
100 Pursuant to Sec. 1504 of Public Law 108-11, as amended by sec. 2205 of P.L. 108-106.
The President must notify the applicable Congressional committees that the export of this
transactions with Iraq from the Department of the Treasury to the Department of
Commerce were issued on July 30, 2004.101
Generalized System of Preferences
On September 7, 2004, the President designated Iraq as a beneficiary developing
country for purposes of the generalized system of preferences (GSP), effective
September 22, 2004.102 U.S. imports GSP beneficiary countries receive preferential
treatment — low or zero duties for designated products.
Eligibility criteria for Presidential designation of GSP status is outlined in
sections 502(b)(2) and 502(c) of the Trade Act of 1974.103 The President is directed
to take into account the level of economic development of the country, its
commitment to a liberal trade policy, the extent to which it provides adequate
protection of intellectual property rights, and its observance of internationally
recognized workers rights. The law prohibits (with certain exceptions) the President
from extending GSP treatment to other industrial countries, Communist countries,
countries that provide preferential treatment to the products of a developed country,
and countries that nationalize or expropriate the property of U.S. citizens, or
otherwise infringe on the property rights of U.S. citizens. The Trade Act of 1974 also
restricts the President’s discretion in designating eligible products. It lists categories
of import-sensitive products — certain textile and apparel products, watches,
electronic articles, steel products, footwear, glass products, and other items — that
are not eligible for GSP treatment. In addition, the act establishes “competitive need
limits,” which require the President to suspend GSP treatment when U.S. imports of
a product from a single country reach a specified threshold value or when 50% of
total U.S. imports of the product come from a single country.104
Iraq’s economic involvement in the world market, largely dependent on oil
exports, varied dramatically during the regime of Saddam Hussein. Trading patterns
have seemed to reflect the domestic situation in the country, from the Iran-Iraq war
in the 1980s, to the invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent imposition of
international economic sanctions.
Currently, Iraq’s economic future is dependent on its ability to draw on its vast
oil resources. These efforts are being hindered due to continued sabotage of oil
pipelines and the weakened state of Iraq’s oil infrastructure, which had been allowed
equipment is in the national interest within five days prior to export.
101 69 F.R. 46090.
102 Proclamation 7808 of September 7, 2004, 69 F.R. 54739.
103 19 U.S.C. 2462(b)(2) and 2462(c).
104 CRS Report 97-389, Generalized System of Preferences, by William H. Cooper.
to deteriorate during the Hussein regime. Despite concerns over the continued
insurgent activity and the stability of Iraq’s interim government which have deterred
most long-term foreign investment, Iraq’s domestic economy is reportedly booming.
The economic resurgence is brought about, in part, by U.S. appropriated funds being
spent on reconstruction contracts in the country, and by pent-up demand brought
about during economic sanctions and economic repression during the Hussein
The United States has lifted most economic sanctions on Iraq, and the President
has designated Iraq as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalized
System of Preferences. Bush Administration officials have stated that Iraq’s stability
is a compelling national interest for the United States, and have expressed
commitment to helping the country develop politically and economically.
Appendix: Trade Tables
Table 5. Top U.S. Imports from Iraq, 2002 - 2004
(General Imports, Customs Value, Actual U.S. dollars)
2709Petroleum oils and oils frombituminous minerals, crude$3,590,343,217$4,561,534,495$8,352,349,051
9801U.S. goods returned withouthaving been advanced0$983,226$76,697,471
9999Salvage; Low valuetransactions00$70,475,431
Petroleum oils and oils from
2710bituminous minerals, other$2,427,889$11,274,000$11,759,452
Unused postage, bank notes,
check forms, etc.
1302Vegetable saps and extracts0$30,756$922,823
9014Direction finding compasses00$751,862
9706Antiques of an age exceeding100 years00$452,456
8529Parts for television and radarapparatus00$64,730
8537Circuit board panels00$19,331
Source: International Trade Commission Trade Dataweb, [http://www.usitc.gov].
Table 6. Major U.S. Exports to Iraq, 2002 - 2004
(Total Exports, FAS Value, Actual U.S. dollars)
8502Electric generating sets and rotary0$96,057,983$107,751,904
8702Public transport-type passenger0$8,500$67,935,636
1001Wheat and Meslin0$9,341,992$50,763,507
8703Motor cars and motor vehicles0$2,135,976$46,858,925
8471Automatic data processing0$2,331,481$45,981,621
8503Parts of electric motors0$22,000$38,679,926
8803Parts of balloons, aircraft0$5,266,034$25,459,181
8705Special purpose motor vehicles,$1,005,350$3,375,545$21,186,012
8411Turbojets, turbo propellers and$129,335$82,489,561$17,179,905
other gas turbines, etc.
207Poultry meat, fresh, chilled, or0$263,304$15,888,522
8421 Centrifuge s $19,850 $838,965 $14,260,989
8529Parts for television, radio, and$114,449$1,303,668$13,992,120
8424Mechanical appliances for spraying$3,461,155$75,341$13,002,866
8708Parts and accessories for tractors,0$364,020$12,803,429
public transport vehicles, cars
8517Telephone electrical apparatus0$1,232,366$11,395,473
9880Low value export shipments00$11,136,037
8473Parts and accessories for office0$594,691$11,020,088
8704Motor vehicles for transporting$1,156,566$37,773$10,749,297
9027Instruments and apparatus for$178,373$355,673$9,824,269
8479Machines and mechanical$6,997,342$204,444$9,800,488
8406Steam turbines and parts$64,234$11,106$8,743,729
9014Direction finding compasses and0$4,365$8,337,291
other navigational equipment
9801Exports of articles returned for0$7,150$7,942,279
8481Taps, cocks, valves, etc.$12,466$283,901$7,187,348
8426Ship’s derricks, cranes, lifting0$195,000$7,161,561
8431Parts and accessories for ship’s$11,591,111$34,093$5,986,052
derricks, cranes, lifting apparatus
9802Exports of articles donated to relief0$10,443,356$5,479,938
Source: International Trade Commission Trade Dataweb, [http://www.usitc.gov].
Table 7. Iraq: Top 30 World Import Commodities, 2001-2003
(SITC Rev 3 Commodities, Actual U.S. dollars)
Code and Description200120022003
7165 — ELECTRIC GENERATING$148,858,446$59,167,987$182,659,894
8110 — PREFABRICATED$762,018$1,764,281$118,823,759
0222 — MILK AND CREAM,$74,941,293$201,242,185$109,268,163
CONCENTRATED OR SWEETENED
0423 — RICE, MILLED WHETHER$75,449,752$7,118,830$108,221,023
POLISH/GLAZE/PAR BOIL (BROKEN
7812 — MOTOR VEHICLES FOR$178,204,812$281,818,478$102,773,867
THE TRANSPORT OF PERSONS,
8722 — INST & APPLS, MEDICAL,$70,974,427$54,679,017$101,984,620
INCLD SIGHT TESTING
3442 — GASEOUS$0$0$97,131,423
0542 — LEGUMINOUS$22,314,426$12,017,883$88,524,341
VEGETABLES, DRIED, SHELLED
5429 — MEDICAMENTS, N.E.S.$64,868,947$93,601,201$83,152,717
7149 — PARTS OF TURBOJET$38,231,101$17,002,923$74,977,043
ENGINES & GAS TURBINES N.E.S.
0612 — CANE/BEET SUGAR NES,$29,298,205$91,320,851$68,764,215
CHEM PURE SUCROSE, SOLID
7148 — GAS TURBINES, N.E.S.$34,340,823$7,292,876$65,900,007
6612 — PORTLAND CEMENT$3,107,379$2,460,226$65,659,748
4312 — ANIMAL OR VEG FATS,$66,205,606$99,575,443$61,387,598
OILS, FRACTIONS HYDRGENATD
0910 — MARGARINE;EDIBLE$51,748,336$28,693,559$52,911,427
PREPS & MIXTURES OF ANIMAL
5542 — ORGANIC SURF-ACT$26,145,722$50,656,073$51,251,265
AGENTS NES, AND PREPARATIONS
PARTS NES, OF IRON OR STEEL
Code and Description200120022003
7821 — MOTOR VEHICLES FOR$214,686,142$343,556,861$47,558,590
THE TRANSPORT OF GOODS
7742 — APPARATUS BASED ON$19,074,034$25,525,578$44,857,775
USE OF X-RAYS, ETC
7611 — TELEVISION RECEIVERS,$1,711,168$4,946,487$44,241,366
1110 — NONALCOHOLIC$1,256,554$1,610,984$43,686,386
7752 — HOUSEHLD TYPE$1,178,206$1,444,553$42,211,895
REFRIGERATORS & FOOD
1223 — TOB. MFG (INCL$21,263,271$35,565,265$41,751,000
0989 — FOOD PREPARATIONS,$36,375,723$36,208,563$40,286,620
7429 — PARTS OF PUMPS FOR$45,158,907$20,169,165$37,051,259
LIQUIDS & LIQUID ELEVATORS
6595 — TEXTILE FLOOR$7,426,557$14,222,196$35,181,510
COVERINGS, WOVEN NES, MADE-
UP OR NOT
4211 — SOYBEAN OIL AND ITS$616,197$566,931$35,113,732
7731 — INSULATED WIRE, CABLE;$63,798,599$34,385,649$32,353,900
OPTICAL FIBER CABLES
0567 — VEGETABLES, PREPARED$6,418,127$3,950,192$30,371,933
OR PRESERVED, N.E.S
7163 — EL MOTORS EXCEEDING$28,838,209$19,886,885$30,085,254
37.5 W & GENERATORS, AC
Source: United Nations Trade Data, compiled by CRS using the Trade Policy Information System,
Department of Commerce.
Table 8. Iraq: Top 30 World Export Commodities, 2001-2003
(SITC Rev 3 Commodities, Actual U.S. dollars)
Code And Description200120022003
3330 — CRUDE OIL FROM$11,597,693,861$8,720,575,180$7,534,592,692
2882 — NONFERROUS BASE$6,912,004$3,813,330$50,184,817
METAL WASTE & SCRAP NES
6821 — COPPER, REFIN OR$0$21,423$20,785,766
NOT; COPPER ANODES; COP
7232 — MECHANICAL$0$459,486$16,964,738
6841 — ALUMINUM AND$0$0$12,346,538
0411 — DURUM WHEAT,$2,398,952$2,625,597$9,744,215
0430 — BARLEY, UNMILLED$19,833,983$23,397,853$8,921,455
2823 — FERROUS WASTE &$157,899$215,830$7,753,423
SCRAP, EXC CAST IRON &
2631 — COTTON (OTHER$86,402$0$5,762,946
THAN LINTERS), NOT
CARDED OR COMBED
3431 — NATURAL GAS,$17,951,832$22,206,392$4,974,633
0412 — WHEAT (INCLUDING$0$0$4,048,839
SPELT) AND MESLIN,
0449 — MAIZE (NOT$0$22,781$3,147,873
INCLUDING SWEET CORN)
UNMILLED, NO SEED
5621 — MINERAL OR$1,584,257$1,266,592$2,541,929
7822 — SPEC PUR MTR$0$0$2,497,358
VEHICLES, OTH THN FOR
TRANSPT OF PERS
6842 — ALUMINUM AND$9,283$0$1,870,756
Code And Description200120022003
7231 — BULLDOZRS,$507,266$430,454$1,494,396
ANGLEDOZRS, GRADRS &
9310 — SPECIAL$107,701$749,762$1,291,292
TRANSACTIONS & COMMOD
NOT CLASSIF BY KIND
6724 — IRON (UNDER 99.94%$0$0$1,246,157
PURE) & STEEL IN PRIMARY
0811 — HAY AND FODDER,$4,227,218$3,353,683$1,129,138
GREEN OR DRY
7224 — WHEELED$12,128$163,182$1,005,550
0542 — LEGUMINOUS$2,105,398$940,994$996,073
7441 — WORKS TRUCKS;$18,305$0$990,662
TRACTORS; PTS N.E.S.
7239 — PARTS, N.E.S., CIVIL$220,565$935,011$873,644
0579 — FRUIT, FRESH OR$1,416,271$2,228,783$831,492
7165 — ELECTRIC$0$0$748,589
7431 — AIR OR VACUUM$26,317$450,395$734,044
7233 — MOVING, GRADING,$0$0$595,561
LEVELING ETC MACH FOR
0423 — RICE, MILLED$582,907$100,418$441,074
7843 — PTS & ACCESS OF$39,258$165,742$420,091
TRACTOR, MTR VEH, SPEC
7423 — CONCRETE PUMPS$5,507$168,621$411,211
Source: United Nations Trade Data, compiled by CRS using the Trade Policy Information System,
Department of Commerce.
Table 9. Iraq’s Major Trading Partners, 2001-2003
(in Actual U.S. dollars)
Exports .WORLD 11,037,200, 000 9,130,040,000 8,242,280,000
Imports .WORLD 5,634,610,000 5,956,240,000 4,895,650,000
Trade BalanceUnited States5,674,140,0003,418,060,0004,119,290,000
Total TradeUnited States5,776,220,0003,487,580,0004,813,610,000
Exports EU15 2,839,935,716 2,403,367,735 1,571,518,792
Imports EU15 1,902,200,950 1,827,290,430 1,146,268,334
Exports T urkey 0 0 102,365,000
Imports T urkey 0 0 911,963,000
Exports Jordan 622,650,000 682,707,000 340,578,000
Imports Jordan 587,224,000 664,366,000 596,767,000
Exports Canada 523,923,000 694,781,000 797,726,000
Imports Canada 4,213,130 9,712,720 3,672,400
Exports Brazil 25,576,000 328,623,000 345,862,000
Imports Brazil 6 ,668,900 82,136,100 52,337,700
Exports Australia 0 20,524,800 27,576,500
Imports Australia 482,765,000 398,906,000 178,826,000
Exports Russia 8 86 27
Imports Russia 206,073,000 403,170,000 183,866,000
Exports Japan 127,780,000 96,253,300 99,525,300
Imports Japan 208,910,000 311,298,000 84,128,600
Exports T hailand 70,381,400 37,393,200 22,947,600
Imports T hailand 63,551,800 83,279,200 121,814,000
Exports India 54,048,100 57,470,700 68,182
Imports India 82,541,400 85,371,300 120,890,000
Exports Egyp t 895,207 951,897 1,154,000
Imports Egyp t 99,614,800 103,030,000 114,519,000
Exports China 66,383,600 87,493,600 295,455
Imports China 437,609,000 462,938,000 61,661,600
Source: International Monetary Fund Direction of Trade Data, compiled by CRS using the Trade
Policy Information System, Department of Commerce.
a. Trade Balance equals Exports minus Imports
b. Total Trade equals Exports plus Imports