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Volume 404: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2003

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what work has been undertaken (a) to assess the basic economic indicators in Iraq and (b) to overcome the failure by the Iraqi regime to supply figures to international economic institutions; [111453](2) whether the IMF has issued interim reports on the work of its Iraq task force; [111454](3) whether his Department is working with the World bank to provide it with primary economic information on Iraq. [111452]

Iraq's isolation from the international community, combined with the impact of two wars and 12 years of sanctions, means that reliable data on the Iraqi economy are extremely scarce. The World bank has not maintained active operations in Iraq (the last loan approved was in 1973) and regular reports by the international financial institutions on the economy, such as IMF Annual Article IV reports, have not been compiled for some years.In accordance with its guidelines for working with countries in conflict, the World Bank closely monitors developments in Iraq and maintains contacts with the United Nations and international donors to exchange information and build a knowledge base on the evolving socio-economic and humanitarian conditions on the ground.The UK Government are working with their international partners to ensure the effective engagement of the International Financial Institutions in the rehabilitation of post-conflict Iraq. The collection of accurate data and the preparation of a comprehensive needs assessment are key steps in that process. The UK Government are in regular contact with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund on these matters.In a communiqué issued following their spring meetings, both the International Monetary and Finance Committee of the IMF, chaired by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Development Committee of the World bank have noted that 'the IMF and World Bank stand ready to play their normal role in Iraq's re-development at the appropriate time'. Staff in both institutions have begun initial preparations for these tasks. Beyond information available on their websites, neither the World Bank nor the IMF has so far published any recent reports on Iraq.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what tariffs exist on the importing of Iraqi goods to (a) the EU and (b) the UK. [111553]

All imports from Iraq remain prohibited without an import licence while United Nations sanctions remain in force. Prior to sanctions being imposed in 1990, imports from Iraq were eligible for reduced rates of customs duty under the Generalised System of Preferences.Customs duty rates of the EU and UK are one and the same. The HM Customs and Excise Tariff lists both full and preferential rates of duty and includes information on the Generalised System of Preferences. A copy is available in the Library of the House.