Exports to Iraq expand despite political tension

Exports to Iraq expand despite political tension

Exports to Iraq expand despite political tension

Iraq bound trucks are seen lined up near Habur customs gate in this file photo. DHA Photo

Ongoing political tensions between Turkey and Iraq have not hampered exports to the neighboring country, the head of the Southeastern Anatolian Exporter’s Union (GAİB), Abdulkadir Çıkmaz, said yesterday.

Iraq made up 50.8 percent of exports, amounting to $5.9 billion, from the southeastern region of Turkey in the first nine months of the year, he told Anatolia news agency.

“Most exports are made to the Kurdish region of Iraq. Our exporter firms have warehouses there. Then goods are distributed to the rest of the country,” said Çıkmaz. “We also have direct sales to the central Iraqi government via tenders to procure oil and cleaning materials. In short, we export to the whole of Iraq.”

Security concerns

Truck drivers are unwilling to go to certain regions of Iraq for security reasons, however, goods are sold to the rest of the country by Turkish companies as well, he said.

Exports to Iraq from Turkey’s southeast region increased 25 percent year-on-year in the first nine months of 2012 to $3.1 billion, surpassing the total exports increase from the region by 15.5 percent. Iraq purchased mostly sunflower seed oil, iron, steel, wheat flour, cement and ready-made cloth from Turkey.

“Our firms have no difficulty in winning tenders issued by Baghdad. In the latest case, a Turkish firm won a tender for 100,000 tons of oil procurement two months ago. Political problems do not hinder commerce between the two countries,” Çıkmaz said.

Iraq’s fugitive Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, one of the nation’s highest-ranking Sunni officials, fled to Turkey after he was accused of terror charges, resulting in political tensions between Turkey and Iraq.

Turkey’s overall exports to Iraq totaled $6.8 billion between January and August, according to the latest data available from the Turkish Economy Ministry.

There are still some exports to Syria, Turkey’s other southern neighbor, at about $35 million via Latakia, he also said.

Middle Eastern countries made up 60.9 percent of all the exports from the region, followed by European countries with 14.6 percent and African countries with 9.1 percent in the first nine months, according to a recent press release by GAİB. The province of Gaziantep, the industrial hub of the region, made nearly $4.3 billion worth of exports in the period alone.