The view from Kuwait

The view from Kuwait
Published: 30 June 2004

Most Kuwaitis supported the war of liberating Iraq from the regime of Saddam Hussein. However, in the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the general American confusion in Iraq after its military victory, a split has developed in public opinion here. Some are demanding a swift end to the US occupation; some doubt American intentions in Iraq. Yet trade between Iraq and Kuwait is ongoing. Kuwaiti traders are making sizeable profits exporting materials to be used in Iraq’s reconstruction. Before the war, cement was approximately US$2.35 per bag. But after the war, it was about US$5 per bag. Likewise, construction iron rose from US$305 to US$576 per tonne.

Such price rises, although they reflect an improvement in the market, caused so much chaos in the domestic market compelling  the government to stop exporting cement and iron to Iraq so that prices could return to more normal levels of local consumption in Kuwait. Yet, cement has decreased only to US$4 a bag, and iron per ton only to US$542.