For Immediate Release: October 6, 2010
Contact: Mary Trupo (202) 482-3809
Obama Administration Trade Official Promotes Private Sector Development and Investment in Iraq
Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez, Joined by 14 U.S. Businesses, Encourages Iraqi Leaders to Create a More Open Investment Environment
BAGHDAD, IRAQ – Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez during bilateral meetings with Iraqi officials today highlighted the importance of an open investment and trade regime for Iraq’s long-term success and economic development.
Sánchez held bilateral meetings with Dr. Hussain Al-Shahristani, Iraq’s Minister of Oil and Acting Minister of Electricity, and Dr. Sami Al-Araji, chairman of Iraq’s National Investment Commission, during the final day of an historic trade mission to Baghdad.
During his meeting with Dr. Al-Shahristani, Sánchez advocated for continued negotiations between the federal and provincial governments on energy issues and passage of the Hydrocarbons and Electricity Laws by the Council of Representatives. These actions would establish the rule of law in the energy sector and support a legal and regulatory environment more conductive to international investment in Iraq.
“These reforms should encourage more U.S. companies to enter Iraq, as the reduction in risk and further clarity would lower the costs of operating here,” Sánchez noted.
Sánchez encouraged Dr. Al-Araji to consider the benefits of ratifying several outstanding bilateral agreements that would assist Iraq in achieving a sound investment climate and expanded regulatory reforms to promote investment. These include the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), OPIC Investment Incentive Agreement (IIA) and a Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation on Supporting Reform and Capacity Building in the Agricultural Sector, all signed in 2005. He also stressed the importance of Iraq continuing to move forward on WTO accession as a part of the country’s efforts to integrate into the global multilateral trading system.
“Iraq has done a great job of getting the word out that it is open for business and it has held high-profile events around the world to demonstrate the vast opportunities available in Iraq,” Sánchez said. “Iraq must now begin to make the reforms necessary to ensure that their efforts produce real and tangible investment.”
Iraq’s GDP has nearly doubled since 2006, soaring from $57 billion to $112 billion in 2009. According to the Government of Iraq, by 2014, its per capita gross domestic product will increase by 50 percent as its economy continues to grow. Iraq’s private sector offers a vast array of business opportunities for U.S. firms in many industries.
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