Thursday, March 5, 2009

Iraq eyeing WTO membership for boost to economy

Iraq, whose plans to rebuild after years of war have been undermined by a collapse in oil prices, could get a boost from joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO), a top official said.

"Iraq has all the components to be able to accede" to the Geneva-based multilateral body, Trade Minister Abdul Falah al-Sudany said in a statement after a meeting with U.S. officials in Baghdad.

Violence has dropped sharply in Iraq, but Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government is increasingly alarmed about the impact of a drop in oil prices on plans to provide essential services and create jobs.

The price of oil, which accounts for more than 90 percent of government revenues, has fallen by more than $100 from a record $147 per barrel last July.

A steady stream of oil dollars will be key to paying police, paving streets, boosting power supplies -- all crucial to ensuring Iraq does not return to the horrific violence of the years since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

According to the WTO, Iraq applied to WTO membership in 2004, and the last meeting of a working group on joining it was held in April 2008.

No comments: