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Iraq invasion = bad for business

Remember all the nonsense, and lies, the 3 amigos, George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard, blathered on about what the invasion in Iraq would achieve? Nothing has been borne out at all.

This piece in The Atlantic paints a bleak picture of establishing any sort of business in Iraq:

"If you are planning to open a business in Iraq, I would advise you to bring a book. Something substantial, perhaps Tolstoy or Proust, or the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary. You’ll want a sizable knapsack, too, so you can comfortably carry not just all 20 volumes, but the enormous stacks of cash that the process will require.

Here is what the World Bank estimates you must do to open a new firm in Iraq. First, you will need to spend a couple of days deciding on a company name, determining whether it is already registered, and obtaining a “name reservation letter” from the Baghdad Chamber of Commerce at a cost of 350,000 Iraqi dinars ($300). Then, for about 900,000 dinars ($770), you must hire a lawyer to spend a day drafting articles of association for your company. You will need a couple more days to deposit 5,000 dinars ($4.30) in a commercial bank and obtain a confirming receipt, and up to two weeks and another 350,000 dinars ($300) to file for registration at the Commercial Registry. Advertising your incorporation notice in the local paper will set you back 80,000 dinars ($70), and you will lose another three days. Following that, you will expend two days and 20,000 dinars ($17) to make a company seal, but take heart—only one more day is needed to obtain your registration certificate from the Commercial Registry, which includes it absolutely free in the price of your registration filing.

Don’t get too giddy, however, because you’re not done yet. Registering with the tax authority and legalizing your accounting books will suck up four more days and 625,500 dinars ($535), followed by three days to register your employees for social security. Then you find a chair, open up Volume III of the OED, and settle in for the long wait: the 30-to-60-day process of applying for a trade license. All in all, the World Bank says, the process takes an average of 77 days and more than 2 million dinars, or nearly $2,000—more than 100 percent of Iraq’s annual per capita income. That’s why the World Bank ranks Iraq 174th out of 183 countries for starting a business; by contrast, in America (ranked ninth) the process takes six days and about $675. In America, in exchange, you’ll get a safe environment, ready electricity, clean water, and adequate roads. In Iraq, you’ll get a certificate from the Commercial Registry.

Eight years have passed since the invasion of coalition forces into Iraq. There seems to have been no one reason the war was launched, but certainly one of the things we often heard was that Operation Iraqi Freedom would liberate markets as well as people from the predations of Saddam Hussein’s odious regime. It’s hard not to cringe while reading George W. Bush’s October 2002 speech in Cincinnati, where he promised,

'Freed from the weight of oppression, Iraq’s people will be able to share in the progress and prosperity of our time … rebuild their economy, and create the institutions of liberty in a unified Iraq, at peace with its neighbors.'"

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