- Table of Contents
- Full Issue in PDF
- Business Opportunities in Iraq Explored During Trade Mission
- Baltimore-Area Businesses Hear About Opportunities in Iraq
- In Seven Emirates, Many Opportunities for U.S. Exporters
- Trade Calendar
- Featured Trade Event: Clean Tech and Health Care Technologies Trade Mission to Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank
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Business Opportunities in Iraq Explored during Trade Mission
During a trade mission to Iraq on October 5–7, 2010, Francisco Sánchez (left), under secretary for international trade, met with senior U.S. and Iraqi officials to discuss business opportunities for U.S. companies. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)
Iraq is making strides to reestablish itself as a center of commerce in the Middle East. Recently, representatives from 14 U.S. businesses explored business opportunities firsthand during a three-day trade mission to Iraq that was led by officials of the International Trade Administration.
As Iraq works to rebuild its economy and infrastructure after years of war and internal strife, the engagement of U.S. businesses will be an important factor in the success of those efforts. Some of the groundwork for that engagement was laid this past October 5–7, 2010, when representatives from 14 U.S. companies joined Francisco Sánchez, under secretary for international trade, in a three-day trade mission to Baghdad.
“The United States and Iraq have entered a new phase of commercial engagement, and I am confident that [this] recent transition will lead to a stronger economic relationship between our two nations,” said Sánchez during the visit. “This trade mission … marks the beginning of [a] new commercial relationship.”
Representatives from major U.S. businesses, including GE, Boeing, and Bell Helicopter, met with key Iraqi public- and private-sector decision-makers to explore opportunities and to enter or expand their presence in Iraq. They also took part in nearly 200 matchmaking meetings with potential Iraqi buyers and pursued investment and sales opportunities. The trade mission was the first to Iraq since the end of U.S. military operations.
A Growing Market
On October 5, 2010, during the trade mission to Iraq, representatives from U.S. companies and Iraqi officials gathered at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad to hear about business opportunities. They later participated in nearly 200 matchmaking meetings with potential business partners. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)
During the past several years, in the face of many political challenges, Iraq’s economy has made impressive strides. Iraq’s gross domestic product, which was $57 billion in 2007, is estimated to grow to more than $80 billion in 2010. In its 2010–2014 national development plan, Iraq’s government has budgeted more than $186 billion for some 2,700 projects, including large projects related to construction, highways, railways, telecommunications, and security and defense. In 2009, the United States exported about $1.8 billion in goods and services to Iraq. That amount is expected to grow even more during the coming years.
Bilateral Cooperation, Rule of Law
During the mission, Sánchez held bilateral meetings with several Iraqi officials, including Hussain Al-Shahristani, Iraq’s minister of oil and acting minister of electricity, and Sami Al-Araji, chair of Iraq’s National Investment Commission.
In his meeting with Al-Shahristani, Sánchez advocated for continued negotiations between Iraq’s federal and provincial governments on energy issues and for passage of Iraq’s hydrocarbons and electricity laws. Those actions would establish the rule of law in the energy sector and would support a legal and regulatory environment that is more conducive to international investment in these sectors 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 there,” Sánchez noted.
Sánchez encouraged Al-Araji to consider the benefits of ratifying several outstanding bilateral agreements with the United States that would further Iraq’s work to achieve a sound investment climate and expand regulatory reforms to promote investment. The agreements include three that were signed in 2005: a trade and investment framework agreement, an Overseas Private Investment Corporation investment incentive agreement, and a memorandum of understanding for cooperation on supporting reform and capacity building in the agricultural sector. Sánchez also stressed the importance of continued efforts by Iraq to join the World Trade Organization so that the country can better integrate into the global trading system.
For More Information
The Iraq Investment and Reconstruction Task Force of the U.S. Department of Commerce works closely with the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, other U.S. government agencies, Iraqi government agencies, international organizations, and the U.S. business community to coordinate activities in support of Iraqi economic development. For information on doing business with Iraq, visit the task force’s Web site at www.trade.gov/iraq.
Outgrowth of Investment Conference
The trade mission was a natural outgrowth of the successful U.S.–Iraq Business and Investment Conference that was held on October 20–21, 2009, in Washington, D.C. (See the November 2009 issue of International Trade Update.) That conference attracted more than 1,000 participants and highlighted the many opportunities for doing business in Iraq.“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 [there],” said Sánchez. “[It] must now begin to make the reforms necessary to ensure that these efforts produce real and tangible investment.”
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