On November 1, 2008, the Government of Iraq hosted senior U.S. and Iraqi Government officials to convene the Dialogue on Business & Investment Climate (DBIC). This high- level conference, which also drew attendance by private sector companies engaged in the Iraq market, enabled officials to discuss constructive views on Iraq’s commercial environment and private sector development. Deputy Secretary of Treasury Robert Kimmet led the American delegation, which also included Commerce Deputy Secretary John Sullivan, Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Mike Delaney, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Paul Brinkley, and George Laudato, Special Assistant on Middle East to USAID Administrator Ford. On the Iraqi Government side, Vice President Abdul Mahdi was joined by Deputy Prime Minister Rafae Issawi, Minister of Finance Bayan Jabr, Minister of Industry and Minerals Fawzi Hariri, Minister of Planning Ali Baban, Central Bank of Iraq Governor Dr. Sinan Shabibi, and former Oil Minister Thamir Ghadban. The Heads of the Finance and Economic Committees in the Council of Representatives were also in the attendance.
The Government of Iraq has strengthened governance significantly, which has led to greater stability in security and allowed the opportunity to further develop its private sector. The presence of senior U.S. and Iraqi government officials at the conference confirmed these gains, and signaled the importance of increased U.S. private sector engagement solidify these achievements and enhance development.
Deputy Commerce Secretary John Sullivan chaired a private sector panel that enabled representatives to engage senior Iraqi and U.S. government officials on some of the challenges companies face in Iraq. The discussion also focused on business opportunities, the commercial legal environment, and potential actions to attract additional U.S. investment. This multinational company delegation, which represented a variety of industries, included: BAE Systems, C3 Investments, Marshall Fund, Daimler-Mercedes, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The Dialogue’s participants agreed that foreign investment is critical to achieving Iraq’s goals of rapidly developing and diversifying its economy. Participants agreed on the benefits of stimulating increased American investment in Iraq to achieve these goals. The dialogue also produced a consensus amongst Iraqi officials on the need to improve the investment climate and remove existing obstacles, such as unclear regulations and business licensing difficulties, which impede foreign companies from doing more business and investing in Iraq.
For additional information on this conference, please visit the U.S. Embassy-Baghdad’s website at: http://iraq.usembassy.gov/rm_11012008.html
Commerce Deputy Secretary Brings American Companies to Northern Iraq
Deputy Secretary John J. Sullivan recently led a business delegation comprised of nine U.S. companies to Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The nine companies represented a cross-section of the economy and included agri-business, franchising, financial, medical, construction, logistics and engineering sectors. The business delegation had opportunities to be briefed by senior officials of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and participate in discussions with Iraqi business leaders eager for collaboration with American companies.
Deputy Secretary Sullivan engaged KRG Deputy Prime Minister Omer Fattah Hussain, encouraging him to continue to work to attract an increased U.S. commercial presence to Iraq. The Department of Commerce delegation also held discussions with other KRG senior officials, and private sector representatives to discuss ways to help the Iraqi economy grow, boost jobs and become more integrated into the global economy. U.S. companies and their partners have already planned more than $600 million in commercial investments in the Kurdistan Region in sectors as diverse as education, housing, and industrial goods.
Aside from the official meetings, Deputy Secretary Sullivan also toured the Hawler Citadel, dating from the 6th millennium BC, and visited a local Ford dealership.
This was the first U.S. government trade mission to Iraq in 20 years and the first official mission to the Kurdistan Region.
Investing in Iraq’s Industrial Sectors
The Government of Iraq, led by the Iraqi Ministry of Industry and Minerals (MIM) is currently in the process of evaluating investor proposals to enter into joint venture partnerships between many of Iraq’s lucrative State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and international companies. These partnerships will permit investors to acquire production output from Iraq’s productive factories in exchange for investment of expertise and capital to improve and rehabilitate these assets. This initiative is part of a larger process to transition and modernize key industries through 2012. Minister of Industry and Minerals Fawzi Hariri has publicly confirmed that companies taking up these early ventures will have the right of first refusal on eventual privatization. The government has also established an investment board to oversee foreign direct investment in Iraq and the development of SOEs.
From April 19-20, 2008 at the Shangri-La Hotel in Dubai, UAE, Iraq’s Ministry of Industry and Minerals convened to meet with foreign investors to discuss these deals. The two day summit, was attended by over 150 company executives from every corner of the globe who were met by an Iraqi delegation of 85 individuals, including senior officials from the Iraqi Ministry of Industry & Minerals and director generals from over 45 SOEs-the largest delegation seen at any commercial event on Iraq, according to event organizers.
Minister Hariri concluded the summit with a prestigious signing ceremony for two private-public partnerships: Kirkuk Cement Company and Al Qaim Cement. Iterating the successes of the summit, Minister Hariri said, “We have signed two very important contracts today for the cement industry, whereas in fact following the meetings of the past two days, I could have signed ten other similar deals.”
On May 8, 2008, MIM announced a further expansion of the SOEs eligible for such partnerships. These companies, many of which have long track records of success in the lucrative Iraqi market, come from various sectors, including engineering, cement, construction, petrochemicals, food processing, project management, services, and manufacturing. More information on these SOEs can be found online through the resources below or by contacting the U.S. Commerce Department’s Iraq Investment and Reconstruction Task Force toll-free at: (866) 352-IRAQ or IraqInfo@mail.doc.gov.
For additional information, from Iraq’s Ministry of Industry and Minerals.
Historic Erbil Citadel Seeks U.S. Archaeological Support
The Erbil Citadel lies in the middle of the Greater City of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Northern Iraq. The Erbil Citadel, also known as the Hawler Citadel (Hawler is the Kurdish word for Erbil, which is Arabic) is between 7,000 to 10,000 years old, making it one of the longest continuously inhabited sites on Earth. The existence of a plentiful supply of ground water sustained the Citadel's inhabitants throughout its long history. This ancient citadel witnessed the rule of many historical nations, like the Sumarians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Achaemenid Persians, Greeks, Iranian Parthians, Persian Sassanids, Ottomans, and the Muslim Caliphate. It’s rich history can be found along the winding, breezy alleyways of the town, the ornate dusty mosaics, old mosques, public baths, mixed architecture, and other historical intrigues.
Today it remains an oasis in the middle of modern Erbil, rising 38 meters (≈125 feet) above the heart of the busy central commercial district. Residents of the Citadel were relocated in 2007 to preserve the historical nature of the site, although a single family does remain. UNESCO has developed a project to rehabilitate a single site in the citadel and provide it with necessary supplies and equipment to serve as a focal point for the rehabilitation of the citadel and as a hosting place for cultural activities. The UNESCO restoration project provided a strategy to enforce local capacities in the field of conservation and restoration techniques, undertake study for urgent remedial works to prevent further damages and establish a Conservation Master Plan. It is hoped that after conservation and restoration, that the real age and origin of the citadel are discovered. A better understanding of the ancient Erbil Citadel requires systematic and scientific archaeological excavations to maintain the historical site.
The Citadel site director, Mr. Dara Al-Yaqubi, has expressed a strong desire to cooperate with U.S. universities, non-profits, or other organizations with historical, excavation, archaeological, and engineering support interested in becoming a part of the long, rich history of this truly special piece of our global heritage. For more information on the Citadel, visit, www.erbilcitadel.org, or contact Mr. Dara Al-Yaqubi at: dara.alyaqubi[at]erbilcitadel.org.
Boeing Signs $5 Billion Commercial Aircraft Deal with Government of Iraq
On May 5, 2008, Prime Minister of Iraq, Al Maliki hosted a ceremonial signing with Boeing representatives to announce the Government of Iraq's purchase of thirty 737 and ten 787 commercial aircraft. In collaboration with Embassy Baghdad, including the Senior Commercial Officer, the Transportation Attaché, and the Iraqi Ministry of Planning's Procurement Action Center, Boeing concluded negotiations with the Iraqi Minister of Finance on March 24th, with the signing of the Boeing agreement. On May 5th, Boeing representatives traveled to Baghdad at the invitation of the Prime Minister to attend the ceremonial signing and official announcement of the aircraft purchase. Guests included Ambassador Crocker, GEN David Petraeus, Minister of Finance Jabr Al-Zubaydi and Ahmed Al Saadawi, DG of Iraqi Airways. This agreement marks the single largest purchase ever made by the GOI.
Iraqi Businesses Optimistic on Economy and Security for 2008
February 29, 2008 – Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE)
A recent survey shows that an overwhelming majority of Iraqi businesses are open to international trade and are optimistic for further economic growth and improvements in security for 2008. Business owners who participated in this survey were selected randomly from the registers of various Iraqi chambers of commerce and the Iraqi Businessmen Union. 78% of those business owners expect the economy to significantly grow over the next two years and the majority of business leaders (84%) believe security is better now than the previous year. Over 70% of Iraqi companies are open to working with international companies, expressing the belief that international trade and economic openness would improve their businesses and Iraq’s economy in general.
2008 Iraq Business Survey Presentation
Survey Results of the 2008 Iraq Business Survey
Previous Iraqi Business Surveys:
2005 - available in English and Arabic
2004 - available in English and Arabic
Read more about CIPE's work in Iraq
Commerce Secretary Gutierrez Travels to Baghdad to Promote Private Sector Growth and Participate in 2nd Meeting of the U.S.-Iraq Business Dialogue
Baghdad (Feb. 9)—U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez met with Iraqi and U.S. business leaders to collaborate on ways to strengthen Iraq’s economy and to build upon recent security gains that have resulted from the U.S. troop surge. “There is no better time than now for economic liberalization and the growth of the Iraqi private sector,” Gutierrez said. “We are committed to working with our Iraqi counterparts to attract private investment into the country because an economically prosperous Iraq will advance hope and peace in Iraq.” (Release) (Remarks)
In Baghdad, Secretary Gutierrez participated in the second meeting of the U.S.-Iraq Business Dialogue (USIBD). The creation of the Dialogue was one of the objectives Secretary Gutierrez outlined with Iraqi Minister of Trade Abd Al-Falah Al-Sudani during his 2006 visit to Baghdad. The USIBD is a bilateral council of private sector leaders from the United States and Iraq charged with advising the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and Iraqi Minister of Trade on private sector views, needs, and concerns about Iraqi private sector growth and the expansion of U.S.-Iraq commercial relations. In Baghdad, the USIBD presented its first formal recommendations, including improving transparency in public procurement and the creation of a joint U.S.-Iraq initiative to restart dormant private Iraqi industry. Copies of the recommendations can be found here in English and Arabic.