US, Iraq sign trade agreement

The United States and the US-backed government in Iraq have signed a formal agreement aimed at boosting economic ties between the two countries, the US Trade Representative's office said.

by
    US investment into Iraq aims to reconstrct the country

    The pact, which could lead to a free trade agreement between Washington and Baghdad, was signed during a meeting of the US-Iraq Joint Commission on Reconstruction and Economic Development in Amman, Jordan.

    The trade and investment framework agreement, or

    TIFA,

    establishes a joint council to work on a wide range of commercial issues, USTR said on Monday.

    "Iraq is making a major effort to reintegrate into the international economy and the meetings of the joint council should assist Iraq in this important endeavour," Assistant US Trade Representative Ashley Wills said in a statement.

    Foreign investment

     

    Abdullah Muhsin, Iraqi Federation of Workers' Trade Unions (IFTU), international representative told Aljazeera.net: "What is important for Iraq now is the need for foreign investment to build infrastructure and technology. Neglect for the last three decades focused investment on militarisation, and civil industry was destroyed.

     

    "We see investment as something different from privatisation; privatisation is not beneficial or helpful to Iraqis. We need to encourage and welcome foreign investment be it American, European, Middle Eastern, from people who can bring skilled economies.

     

    Some fear US privatisation of
    the Iraqi oil industry

    The IFTU is a trade union organisation that is an umbrella group for 13 national unions.

     

    Sabah Jawad, the secretary of London based Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation (IDAO), told Aljazeera.net: "The US is trying to implement it's own economic policy on Iraq including privatisation of major companies and the oil industry."

     

    Violence

     

    "We defend Iraqi private assets, oil reserves, electricity, water, hospitals… we shall defend and keep them for public use... We want to use dialogue not violence, but we are not shy of using muscles in terms of holding protests or lobbying," Muhsin added.

     

    Jawad does not believe violence in Iraq is a product of resistance to free trade agreements as some critics have suggested.

     

    He said: "Violence in Iraq is from the people's resistance to US and British occupation coupled with a lack of security. I don't think it is related to free trade agreements.

    Economic sanctions

    The United States and members of the United Nations had economic sanctions on Iraq for more than a decade prior to the US-led invasion in March 2003 that toppled the regime of former President Saddam Hussein.

    US exports to Iraq surpassed $856 million in 2004, in the first full year after sanctions were lifted. Major items were goods to help rebuild the country such as generators, telecommunications equipment and trucks.

    Spare parts for the US military were another leading export, as well as consumer and household products such as cars, clothing, TVs, toys and sporting goods.

    The United States imported $8.5 billion worth of mostly oil from Iraq last year.

    Iraq was a major market for US agricultural goods before the first Gulf War in 1991.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR



    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    We visualised 1.2 million votes at the UN since 1946. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the world today?

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.