The Therapy Sessions
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
A US-Iraq Free Trade Pact?
There have been a number of good ideas for helping Iraq along.
The first good one, which I'm afraid has been discounted, was to open up Iraq's oil revenue to general population - handling it in a manner similar to Alaskan Oil Trust.
Every Iraqi adult citizen - male, female, Sunni, Shiite and Kurd - would get a slice of the revenue. The government - with its state-owned oil companies and hungry coffers (with all the attendant corruption) - would be kept out of it. The free enterprise economy would do well with this infusion of cash, and it could have served as a shot in the arm for the Iraqi economy.
The idea that the Iraqi people would all benefit from this national resource would be heresy in the region, and the populations of many of Iraq's neighbors would be jealous (good). Iraqis might well decide that the money in their pockets was more important than OPEC production quotas. It might have doomed the cartel (good).
I'm sad that it is not being considered.
But the second idea is still doable: A US-Iraq Free Trade Pact. All goods produced in Iraq would enter the US tariff free.
Right now, one of the big problems is getting investors to put their money in Iraq is security. That's understandable: security is an investor's first concern.
But having free access to America's economy is a huge incentive. And it may lead many in in Iraq to invest their own money, in their own country.
How come nobody else is talking about this idea?