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8/23/03 - THE IRAQI ECONOMY - 2003-08-26

The August 19th attack on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad shows that remnants of Saddam’s regime, aided by foreign terrorists, are trying to prevent order and stability in Iraq. But as President George W. Bush said, “We’re on the offensive against these killers”:

"We’re going after them. We’ll raid their hiding places, and we’ll find them.... The terrorists will meet their end. And in the meantime, the Iraqi people are making steady progress.”

An important area of significant progress is the economy of Iraq. Just over a hundred days after the end of military operations, the Iraqi economy is beginning its recovery. The marketplace in Baghdad has many goods that were previously unavailable because of sanctions or because they were prohibited under the previous regime. Items such as satellite dishes are now readily available to Iraqis. Bookstores are stocked with books no longer banned and are selling posters that would have been forbidden by Saddam’s regime. Cellular phone service is available and Iraqis are free to surf the Internet and send and receive e-mail.

Banks are open in Baghdad and the U.S.-led coalition is working with Iraqis to open banks throughout the country. Iraq’s two major banks will soon start making small-business loans to help Iraqi entrepreneurs restart their businesses.

A unified currency for Iraq has been announced. The exchange of old banknotes for new ones is set to begin October 15th. And the Iraqi dinar has maintained its value against the dollar, preserving the savings of Iraqi citizens.

Oil production is increasing in Iraq. The daily production of crude oil averages one-million barrels a day. Proceeds from the sale of petroleum are used to benefit the Iraqi people, including rebuilding the country’s infrastructure and paying the salaries of teachers, police, and other public sector employees.

As the economy of Iraq improves, Iraqi entrepreneurs and others are meeting the needs of the Iraqi people. As Captain Adel Khalaf, director of the port at Umm Qasr, told a reporter: “More and more businessmen are coming to Iraq. It is a rich country and the Iraqi market is enormous.”