Iraq Fact of the Day

“In theory, the Iraqi government buys fuel from neighboring countries at market rates and then resells it to Iraqis at cheaper subsidized prices. Subsidized diesel, for instance, was sold by the government for less than three cents a gallon for most of 2005, meaning that a 9,000-gallon tanker truck carried fuel officially worth around $250. But the same fuel was worth perhaps a dollar a gallon on the black market. With typical rates of $500 for protection money or police bribes and $800 to pay the truck driver, a smuggler could make at least $7,450 by bringing in fuel from Jordan, Syria or Turkey, according to Mr. Alak's report to the Oil Ministry.

After filling their trucks in neighboring countries, the drivers sell their load at a higher rate on the Iraqi black market. The beauty of the system from the smuggler's standpoint is that if arriving at an Iraqi fuel depot with an empty truck cannot be smoothed over with a bribe, the truck can be filled again elsewhere in Iraq at the cheap subsidized price….

Iraqi and American officials said they could not offer a total figure for what smuggling is costing the country every year, beyond asserting that it is in the billions.

But Oil Ministry data suggest that the total was $2.5 billion to $4 billion in 2005, said Yahia Said, a research fellow at the London School of Economics and director of the Iraq Revenue Watch at the Open Society Institute, a policy foundation.

Even at the low end, that would mean smuggling costs account for almost 10 percent of Iraq's gross domestic product, $29.3 billion in 2005.”

- Attacks on Iraq Oil Industry Aid Vast Smuggling Scheme (via Brad Setser)

See also Venezuela’s Non-Paradox of Value; In fact, gas in Venezuela is cheaper than mineral water, a seeming violation of the Paradox of Value.

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This page contains a single entry by Paul published on June 11, 2006 11:47 PM.

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