ECONOMY

SE Turkey business fears Iraq trade row surge

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) – Business leaders in southeast Turkey voiced concern yesterday about a row between Ankara and Baghdad over oil trade which appeared to be widening to include Turkish meat exports to Iraq. Demands from the Iraqi national oil company SOMO that Turkish firms should deal in future with Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq drew a forceful rejection from Ankara on Monday. Turkey insists it will only deal with the central government in Baghdad. It fears Kurdish moves towards greater autonomy in northern Iraq could fan separatism among its own Kurdish population in impoverished southeast Turkey. Seyhmus Akbas, chairman of the DOGUNSIFED businessmen’s association in the southeast, said the difficulties with Iraq were causing problems for the freight sector – one of the most important in the region. «We don’t know the reason and we are concerned about the halt in red meat and poultry exports in the last few days along with the oil delivery troubles,» he said, «we are expecting a statement from the Iraqi government on this subject. The problem is causing serious economic losses on both sides.» He said there had also been a decline in deliveries of cement and pulses, but this had not yet become a problem.