A wide range of different local products including many household appliances, cabinets, chairs, beds, furniture, rugs, detergent and cleaning products were showcased at the exhibition. Photo: Rudaw video
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Over 100 Kurdish manufacturing companies have taken part in a four-day exhibition in Erbil in a bid to promote domestically produced goods as the government plans to boost local industries by imposing tariffs on imported products, among other measures.
A wide range of different local products including many household appliances, cabinets, chairs, beds, furniture, rugs, detergent and cleaning products were showcased at the exhibition some of the which have already found a growing market both in Kurdistan Region and other provinces in Iraq.
“We produce 72 different detergent products here in Erbil and distribute them in 17 Iraqi provinces in addition to the Kurdistan Region,” said Safiq Teha owner of the Luxx company in Erbil. “There is an expanding demand for such items and most probably we need to accelerate the output,” Teha added.
The bulk of consumed goods in Kurdistan Region is imported from neighboring countries, including over 90 percent of food products, which the government struggles to limit by empowering local manufacturing businesses.
“The new regulations are already at work generally to set up a balance between local and imported products in the market. At the moment we need to support domestic industries which are greatly challenged,” said Nawzad Adham, from the ministry of commerce.
Daily imports of goods is carried out through 5 border gates and two international airports into the Kurdistan Region, enjoying relatively modest custom taxes for much of the last decade.
According to the ministry, over $10 billion worth of goods was imported to the country in 2016 from primarily 14 countries, while during the same period the Kurdish exports stood at around $1 billion.
The government has said it will invest in both domestic production and its fragile private sector in a country where almost half of the adult population are dependent on government salaries.
The ministry has taken extraordinary measures to promote domestic production in severe competition with foreign goods with largely lower prices. Authorities say they have based their plans partly on the recommendations of the World Bank with regard to stimulating private sector and facilitating long-term loans to smaller businesses.
The tariffs were put on imported products in 2014 amid the deepening financial crisis following the decline of oil revenues.
Agricultural imports stood for nearly 70 percent of all consumption in Kurdistan in 2016 despite the tariffs, according to the ministry’s data.