Iraq has become one of the most important trading countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as a result of high oil prices and a dramatic increase in imports, figures compiled by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) show.
In 2000, Iraq was ranked fifth among MENA importers and sixth according to exports. Iraqi imports totalled $13,700 million, compared with $8,524 million in 1999. Iraq imported goods worth $7,660 million in 1990, but, in the following six years, imports dropped below $1,000 million a year. In 1997, after Iraq agreed to co-operate with the UN oil-for-food programme, imports jumped to $4,260 million. However, they did not increase appreciably the following year because of the fresh conflict with the US.
Iraqi exports totalled $19,300 million in 2000, compared with $12,000 million in 1999. The previous highest total for exports was in 1990, at $12,380 million.
In the regional rankings, Iraq was bracketed with Algeria and Kuwait in terms of exports. Saudi Arabia was the clear leader at $84,060 million, followed by the UAE at $39,900 million, and Iran at $30,017 million.
The UAE was the top importer, but the figure of $31,930 million includes a significant amount of goods destined for re-export. The WTO figures clearly illustrate the extraordinary growth in UAE trade over the past decade. In 1990, UAE imports were just $11,199 million. Exports totalled $20,730 million.
Saudi Arabia was in second spot in the regional importer rankings in 2000, at $30,300 million. There is then a large gap before a cluster of three countries around $15,000 million: Iran, Egypt and Iraq.
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