BAGHDAD – Once a bitter enemy, Iran is emerging as a trade lifeline for Iraq as Baghdad seeks to rebuild an economy shattered by years of sanctions, neglect and corruption under Saddam Hussein and since his overthrow.
As Iraq picks up the pieces, it is becoming a key market for its neighbours, especially Iran which it fought from 1980-88. Many Iraqi business people say it is easier to get goods like vegetables from Iran than from some parts of Iraq itself, where insurgents sometimes target truck drivers.
“We import fruits and vegetables from Iran because we feel relieved about the safety of the roads our trucks are moving on,” Iraqi trader Ali Shahatha said.
Helping to thaw and improve relations with Iran is new Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, an Islamist Shi’ite who has close ties to Shi’ite Iran, where he once lived in exile.
Iranian Commerce Ministry estimates say trade with Iraq could reach $1 billion in the year to March 2006 in everything from fruit and vegetables to refrigerators and building materials. Goods worth $650 million were exported to Iraq in the first 10 months of 2005, official figures show.
Trade ties are much simpler now that Saddam, a Sunni Arab aggressively at odds with his Persian neighbours, has gone…
Iran has long wanted to cooperate with Iraq — a fellow member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) — by swapping crude oil and possibly developing joint border oil fields.
Oil aside, Iran has established a $1 billion line of credit to get exports flowing into Iraq and also has a deal to export about 200,000 tonnes of flour to the U.S.-backed country…
Iraq and Iran are also beginning to rebuild trade along southern sea routes. This will become easier after the rebuilding of Iraq’s battered port at Umm Qasr is complete…