Today, the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Iraq Affairs hosted a Doing Business in Iraq Workshop in Washington, D.C, where over 100 U.S. businesses interested in all sectors of the Iraqi economy registered. The workshop is part of a larger initiative that aims to engage, educate, and support U.S. businesses as well as provide information on the business climate, risk factors, and upcoming business opportunities in Iraq. It is intended to broaden the pool of U.S. businesses interested in the Iraqi market.
Speakers included the Iraqi ambassador, officials from the Department of State, the Department of Commerce, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Export Import Bank, and U.S. diplomats in Iraq via live video feed from three locations. The various presentations addressed upcoming business opportunities, information on relevant Iraq legislation, and financing options. There was a particular focus on the near term priority areas for Iraq: electricity, transportation, public works, water and oil The Government of Iraq has allocated $32 billion of its 2012 budget for public investment.
This workshop, beyond building the economic agenda with Iraq, is part of Secretary Clinton’s Jobs Diplomacy effort, a series of actions that are part of the Economic Statecraft agenda focused on promoting American businesses abroad. Building upon Deputy Secretary Nides’ June 2011 Business Forum on Iraq, Department economic officers have met U.S. businesses potentially interested in the Iraqi market and successfully encouraged over 30 U.S. businesses to participate in the first American pavilion at Baghdad International Trade Fair in 20 years. Moving forward, similar workshops will be held for U.S. businesses, with both webinars and workshops for specific sectors. The State Department will continue to work on extending U.S. business ties with Iraq as well as supporting the business promotion efforts of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
While Iraq has experienced significant economic growth over the last several years, efforts to rebuild its economy are still in the early stages. Business engagements like these are one way to ensure Iraq’s economy continues to recover from war and isolation and that U.S. businesses are aware of and able to benefit from new opportunities in Iraq.