OTTAWA -- More than U.S. troops are surging in Iraq. As the international edition of Newsweek magazine reported at year-end, the Iraqi economy is expanding at a rapid rate: "Civil war or not," writer Silvia Spring says, "Iraq has an economy and -- mother of all surprises -- it's doing remarkably well." Amid anarchy and savage violence, Iraq's construction industry is booming.
Retail and wholesale trade sectors are thriving. Real estate prices are soaring -- up by several hundred per cent in the past couple of years. Iraqi oil production (at two million barrels a day) approaches Venezuelan production (2.4 million barrels a day) and could easily double in the next few years. On average, Iraqis earn 100 per cent more, in real terms, than they did under Saddam Hussein.
Public opinion surveys indicate that Iraqis are now, in economic expectations, at least, expansively optimistic.
Newsweek describes Iraq's economic revival as a product of "vibrancy at the grassroots." Three years ago, Iraq had 8,000 registered companies. Last year it had 34,000. Two years ago, Iraqis owned 1.4 million cellphones. Last year, they owned 7.1 million. (Iraqna, the country's leading mobile phone company, reported revenue of $333-million [U.S.] in 2005, $520-million in 2006.) Baghdad now has five times as many cars as it had before the war.
Global Insight, the economic research company, puts Iraq's GDP growth for 2005 at 17 per cent and for 2006 at 13 per cent. "The U.S. wanted to create the conditions in which small-scale enterprise could blossom," the magazine quotes Jan Randolph, head of sovereign risk at Global Insight's office in London. "In a sense, they've succeeded." ...
Just more evidence of what an unmitigated disaster Iraq is. :)