Iraq's imports have declined dramatically in the last decade, as a direct result of the UN sanctions. In 2001, Iraq's total imports were estimated at US$8.9 billion, almost 40 percent lower than their 1989 levels of US$22 billion. Iraq was not allowed to import any goods until 1997. After the conclusion of the food-for-oil agreement, Iraq's imports have been regulated by the UN, which approves all goods entering the country.
|Exchange rates: Iraq|
|Iraqi dinars (ID) per US$1|
|Note: Rates are black market rates and are subject to wide fluctuations;Iraqi dinars have been officially fixed at 0.3109 since 1982.|
|SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].|
Iraq imports a variety of goods, but food imports (wheat, rice, barley, sugar and meat) and medicine are by far the largest component of the import bill. However, the Iraqi government and its agencies control the purchase and marketing of imported goods. Before the Gulf War, Iraq imported the majority of its goods from the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil and Turkey. By the late 1990s, France (19.2 percent of total imports), Australia (18 percent), China (12.5 percent), Russia (8.2 percent), and the United States (2.1 percent) are the largest exporters of goods to Iraq.
The majority of exports are dominated by oil, which accounted for about 95 percent of total sales abroad before the Gulf War. Iraq in 2000 had restored three-quarters of its pre-war oil export levels, which means that oil sales in 2001 account for around 70 percent of total exports. Other non-oil exports included fertilizers and dates. Sales of liquefied natural gas are expected to surge, but the prospects for that eventuality are far from certain. In 1999, Iraq exported the majority of its oil to the United States (US$3,879 million), the Netherlands (US$848 million), Japan (US$644 million), France (US$521 million), and Spain (US$402 million). Given its weak industrial base and the unlikely removal of the UN sanctions, oil is expected to continue to be the country's major export. Total exports in 1999 reached US$12.7 billion, with the vast majority of export earnings coming from the sale of oil.