Country Focus: Iraq

GDP: $59 billion/$2,500 per capita (2001)<br><br>GDP Change: -5.7 percent (annual)<br><br>Population: 24 million<br><br>Exports, all products: $15.8 billion<br><br>Imports, all products: $11 billion<br><br>Key products: Oil is essentially Iraq’s...

GDP: $59 billion/$2,500 per capita (2001)

This story first appeared in the March 21, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

GDP Change: -5.7 percent (annual)

Population: 24 million

Exports, all products: $15.8 billion

Imports, all products: $11 billion

Key products: Oil is essentially Iraq’s sole export, and since December 1999 the United Nations has allowed that country to export as much as it needed to provide humanitarian supplies, primarily food and medicine.

Currency: 3,249.7 dinar = $1 U.S.

Economic concerns have played second fiddle to military ones in Iraq for much of the past two decades, and even if the U.S. invasion runs smoothly, Iraq’s economy will likely require at least months of intensive management if social stability is to be ensured. Since President Saddam Hussein came to power in 1979, the nation has been involved in several wars, starting with an eight-year conflict with Iran that ended in 1988. Iraq’s invasion of neighboring Kuwait in 1990 prompted an attack by U.N. coalition forces, led by the U.S., that destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure. For much of the past decade, the U.N. severely limited Iraq’s oil exports, which traditionally provided about 95 percent of its export earnings. Though the secretive Iraqi regime provides little reliable public information about goings-on inside the country, the Iraqi economy is believed to have been in a sharp contraction as a result of lost oil revenues. In December 1999, the U.N. ruled that Iraq could export as much oil as required to purchase humanitarian supplies, like food and medicine. President Bush, whose father backed the U.S. attack on the country a decade ago during his term in the Oval Office, in his 2002 State of the Union address identified Iraq as part of an “axis of evil” and for much of the last year has been berating Hussein for not complying with U.N. orders to disarm. The Middle East has a vibrant textile history, and Iraq is home to a number of government-owned and privately owned textile and apparel companies, which primarily serve Iraq’s domestic market. It is not a significant supplier to the U.S. market.