Question of KRG referendum looms over trade

DAILY SABAH WITH WIRES
ISTANBUL
Published 20.09.2017 23:32
Updated 20.09.2017 23:52

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani's insistence in holding the controversial referendum on Kurdish independence, which has failed to garner international support with the exception of Israel and has been met with outspoken opposition from Turkey, Iraq and Iran, is also stirring concern in the business world. Opining that the referendum will have a negative impact on trade volume between Iraq and Turkey, representatives of the business world are now awaiting the decision of the National Security Council, scheduled to convene tomorrow.

Emphasizing that bilateral trade volume between Iraq and Turkey currently stands at around $10 billion, professionals from the business world have made stern calls not to close border gates to Iraq.

The chairman of the Turkey-Iraq Industrialists and Businessmen's Association Nevaf Kılıç stated that 700,000 trucks are sent to the region every year and stores in the region sell Turkish goods to a large extent. Kılıç warned that a KRG referendum could cause trade volume between the said countries to shrink if the border gates are closed, expressing that business people hope the KRG referendum does not have a negative effect on trade.Eastern-Southeastern Industrialists' and Businessmen's Federation (DOGÜNSİFED) Chairman Şah İsmail Bedirhanoğlu remarked that $8 billion in trade volume from Iraq is generated from Turkey's trade with the KRG, saying that both sides should act with temperance. Moreover, Diyarbakır Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association Chairman Burç Baysal also stressed that closing Turkish-Iraqi border gates would create trouble for tradesmen.

Stating that Kurdish business people in the region have ongoing operations in Turkey, Women Entrepreneurs Council Adviser of Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) Erkut Temiz said Turkey might close its border gates to Iraq, potentially creating problems for future trade transactions.

Reiterating that Iran and the central Iraqi government also oppose the KRG referendum, the chairman of the Turkey-Iraq Business Council of the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK) Emin Taha said that business people will closely monitor post-referendum developments, stressing that trade between the two countries must continue without interruption regardless of the outcome.

Pointing out that the number of tourists coming to Turkey from the region has begun to increase, he said that Turkey's exports to Iraq are expected to reach $10 billion by the end of the year. "Our trade in the region must continue, as trade is vital to the economic welfare of Turkey's southeastern cities. If the factories we have established amid aims to send exports to the KRG were to become inoperative, this would result in an unemployment problem that would ultimately lead to terrorism," Taha previously told Deutsche Welle Turkey.

While bilateral economic relations reached their peak level from 2012 to 2014 with a trade volume of more than $1 billion, trade volume has seen a significant decline in recent years. Despite this, political rapprochement between the two countries is expected to boost trade relations in the future.

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