Iraq and Turkey should establish a customs union and joint market to improve and maintain the sustainability of commercial ties, a prominent Iraqi business representative has said, amid tremors in bilateral trade caused by violence in the country.
At the workshop of Turkish and Iraqi business representatives in Ankara, Jaafar Rasool al-Hamadani, chairman of the Iraqi Federation of Chambers of Commerce, said, “We have to think deeply and we need to create a customs union to eliminate the difficulties at customs.”
Members of Turkish and Iraqi trade chambers held the meeting in September 23rd for boosting trade between the two countries, as the conflict involving the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq has slowed Turkey’s exports to Iraq.
Speaking at the meeting organized by Turkey’s Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB), al-Hamadani said the constraints squeezing imports and exports should be rethought to be solved.
Al-Hamadani, who was due to meet with Turkish Customs Minister Nurettin Canikli on Sept. 24, said both sides would benefit from an economy and customs union that was signed between the two governments.
Iraq had been Turkey’s biggest trade partner after Germany, said TOBB Chairman Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu during the meeting. The Turkish private sector, which looked to expand with overseas projects, took a great role in Iraq’s reconstruction in the aftermath of the war that tore the country down, seeing bilateral trade and investments prospering.
However, in August the country dropped from the second to the fifth place among Turkey’s top export markets, with the recent turmoil in the country, as Turkey’s Exporters’ Assembly (TİM) figures show.
Hisarcıklıoğlu said during the meeting, “Around 300 Turkish companies working in Iraq were forced to [cease their activity] and evacuate their 7,000 employees for safety.”
Turkey’s exports to Iraq have contracted by around 40 percent since June, when the ISIL militants took control of northern Iraq’s largest city Mosul, mainly due to transportation security concerns.
Hisarcıklıoğlu said the TOBB is closely watching the situation in cooperation with the government and companies, also complaining about the “difficulties raised by Iraq.”
He concluded, “Attempts to impose fees due to delays and requests for Turkish companies to use routes through Iran when they cannot transport their goods due to closed roads have left us in a difficult situation.”