The Republic of Iraq is home to a mosaic of ethnic cultures, predominately Arabs and Kurds. According to Wikipedia, 95% of Iraq’s population are Shia or Sunni Muslims.
The country is surrounded by 6 nations: Iran on its eastern border, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest, Syria to the west and Turkey to the north. Iraq’s population is 37,056,169 according to the CIA World Factbook.
Iraq shipped US$52.9 billion worth of products around the globe in 2015. That figure represents roughly 0.3% of overall global exports estimated at $16.329 trillion.
From a continental perspective, $34.1 billion or 64.5% of Iraq’s total exports by value in 2015 were delivered to Asian trade partners.
European importers purchased 25.6% of Iraqi shipments while 8.5% worth of products arrived in North American countries.
At 0.9%, a much smaller portion of Iraqi exports were bought by Latin American (excluding Mexico) and Caribbean importers with an even smaller share (0.3%) going to Africa.
Iraq’s Top Import Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Iraq’s top import partners, countries that imported the most Iraqi shipments by dollar value during 2015. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Iraqi exports.
- China: US$12.7 billion (23.9% of total Iraq exports)
- India: $11.3 billion (21.4%)
- South Korea: $6.3 billion (11.8%)
- United States: $4.6 billion (8.6%)
- Italy: $3.7 billion (7.1%)
- Greece: $3.4 billion (6.5%)
- Netherlands: $1.9 billion (3.5%)
- Taiwan: $1.4 billion (2.6%)
- Spain: $1.3 billion (2.4%)
- Singapore: $1 billion (1.9%)
- Japan: $997 million (1.9%)
- France: $931.3 million (1.8%)
- Poland: $675.3 million (1.3%)
- Germany: $499 million (0.9%)
- Brazil: $476.8 million (0.9%)
The vast majority (96.5%) of Iraqi exports in 2015 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Only three countries on the list of top importers increased their import purchases from Iraq from 2011 to 2015: Poland (up 11,254,533%), Greece (up 203.1%) and Taiwan (up 42.1%).
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
In 2015, Iraq incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- Turkey: -US$8.3 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2015)
- Russia: -$1.8 billion
- Jordan: -$749.4 million
- Germany: -$639.9 million
- Saudi Arabia: -$467.7 million
- Switzerland: -$441.7 million
- Kuwait: -$429.5 million
- United Kingdom: -$350.6 million
- Oman: -$326.3 million
- Sweden: -$242.8 million
Among Iraq’s import partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Iraqi deficits with Russia (up 1,670%), Kuwait (up 649.9%) and Switzerland (up 96.5%) grew at the fastest pace from 2011 to 2015.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Iraq’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Iraq to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
In 2015, Iraq incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- India: US$10.2 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2015)
- South Korea: $4.8 billion
- China: $4.7 billion
- Greece: $3.4 billion
- Italy: $2.7 billion
- United States: $2.6 billion
- Netherlands: $1.5 billion
- Taiwan: $1.3 billion
- Spain: $1.1 billion
- Singapore: $935.3 million
Among Iraq’s import partners that cause the greatest positive trade balances, only Iraqi surpluses with Greece (up 206%) and Taiwan (up 40.6%) increased in value from 2011 to 2015.
America led the decliners with a -82.6% pullback, followed by Spain (down -58.7%), Netherlands (down -48%) and India (down -39.4%).
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Iraq’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Iraq to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing Iraqi Import Partners
Not one Iraqi corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000 for 2015.
Wikipedia does list major companies from Iraq, some of which are active participants in international trade. Selected examples are shown below:
- Iraq National Oil Company (crude oil, natural gas)
- Iraqi Oil Tankers Company (maritime transport of petroleum)
- Trade Bank of Iraq (trade deal financing)
- Iraqi Airways Company (domestic/regional airliner)
See also Top Middle Eastern Export Countries, Iraq’s Top 10 Exports and South Africa’s Top 10 Exports
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on May 26, 2016
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on May 26, 2016
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on May 26, 2016
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Iraq. Accessed on May 26, 2016
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 26, 2016