U.S. official says war on Iraq could boost global economy
By Pawel Kozlowski (Rueters)
WARSAW (Reuters) - A senior U.S. Commerce Department official said on Wednesday that a possible war on Iraq could boost the global economy by eliminating a terrorist threat and releasing fresh oil supplies onto world markets.
The comments in Poland by Under Secretary Grant Aldonas came amid diplomatic wrangling over sending weapons inspectors to Iraq, which U.S. President George W. Bush says is threatening the world with weapons of mass destruction.
Aldonas told a news conference that war was not inevitable and the impact on the world economy would depend on how long the conflict lasted, if it happened.
"The combined effect may actually be positive economically because it would eliminate one of the real sources of terror and one of the real clouds hanging over the world's economy," he said.
"At the same time it will open up the spigot on Iraqi oil, which would certainly have a profound effect in terms of the performance of the world economy for those countries that are manufacturers and oil consumers.
"That obviously isn't the point of any action taken against (Iraqi leader) Saddam Hussein and Iraq but certainly it would be one of the results economically," he added.
Iraq is allowed currently to export controlled volumes of oil under U.N. supervision imposed in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf war. But it has shut down supplies sporadically to rattle oil markets as part of a campaign to get U.N. sanctions lifted.
Aldonas' comments came after World Trade Organisation Director General Supachai Panitchpakdi said on Tuesday an Iraq war could have a limited, but negative, impact on the world economy. The WTO chief said military action might cause exchange rate volatility and boost transport and insurance...