Remarks at the Kuwait Reconstruction Conference for Iraq

Brett McGurk
Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition To Counter ISIS, Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition To Counter ISIS
Kuwait City, Kuwait
February 14, 2018

As prepared for delivery

Thank you, your Highness Sheikh Sabah al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti Government, and the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry for hosting this important event on behalf of Iraq; Prime Minister Abadi and the Iraqi National Investment Commission for prioritizing the areas of new investment for reconstructing Iraq; and the EU and World Bank for supporting the conference. And with that, on behalf of the United States, I want to recognize our friend, my friend, Foreign Minister Jafari, and all the Iraqi people who have suffered so much with 18,000 having sacrificed their lives in this fight against ISIS really on behalf of all of us, and that's why we are here.

On Monday, the Government of Iraq, with the support of the World Bank, rolled out its 10-year Reconstruction and Development Framework. This framework compliments its ten-year Vision 2030 and National Development Plan. It boldly combines government reforms, anti-corruption programs, incentives for private sector investment, and international contributions, all to effectively rebuild the Iraqi economy and identify sustainable long-term solutions to foster economic stability after Iraq's historic victory over ISIS.

I want to commend the Government of Iraq for the breadth of this program, its honesty, ambition and prioritization. We particularly welcome its focus on private sector investment and a clear articulation of Iraqi government intent to utilize its own funding to support Iraq's long journey to recovery.

As Secretary General Guterres noted this morning, 80% of Iraq’s urgent humanitarian needs were funded by the Iraqis themselves. Iraq is not seeking a handout, it seeks a hand up after fighting the scourge of ISIS on behalf of all of us.

The Government of Kuwait’s leadership in this historic meeting follows its hosting of the 2016 Pledging Conference in Support of Iraq, co-hosted with Canada, Germany, Japan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, and the United States. That meeting raised $2.3 billion for the Iraqi people.

In the wake of this 2016 pledging conference, Kuwait offered to host this follow-on conference, one focused on the transition from stabilization to longer-term recovery and reconstruction, given the enormity of needs facing Iraq after ISIS’s defeat.

All of us in this room today understand that it will take years for Iraq to recover from the devastation caused by ISIS. What we have seen this week in Kuwait, nearly 100 countries, and more than 1500 private sector representatives from around the world, and dozens of NGOs, sets the foundation for this process: from here to 2030 and a stable and secure Iraq integrated into the region and into the global economy.

The United States endorses Iraq's National Reconstruction Framework and its Vision 2030 program, and we are prepared to support them through our unique capabilities.

The U.S. Government is already the largest humanitarian donor for Iraq, and the largest donor for stabilization assistance in areas liberated from ISIS. This support is ongoing, together with our partners in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. Just yesterday, Secretary Tillerson called on our Global Coalition to fill remaining gaps in stabilization funding. Our Coalition will meet that challenge.



To enable the defeat and stability in the wake of ISIS, the United States has also contributed more than $2.2 billion for Iraq in economic and security assistance since 2014. In June 2016, we provided a $2.7 billion Foreign Military Financing (FMF) loan to support the professionalization of Iraq's security forces. We are currently finalizing the details on a second FMF loan to build on the historic gains these forces have made -- with much sacrifice -- over the past three years. This week, the Department of Defense announced an additional nearly $1B to further support, train, and equip Iraqi forces over the coming year. This is in addition to the significant support from our Global Coalition.



The United States has also supported Iraq to leverage billions more from international financial institutions and support essential Iraqi reforms. We secured a $1 billion Sovereign Loan Guarantee in January 2017, enabling the Government of Iraq to successfully complete a $1 billion unenhanced bond sale in August 2017. These efforts, together with Iraq's essential work with the World Bank, and IMF, have helped maintain its macro-economic stability even throughout the terrible war against ISIS over the last three years.

Iraq's long-term reconstruction, however, will not come from the largess of donations – as its own development plans make clear – but rather through reforms, public and private investment, economic growth, and smart financing.

The private sector will be critical, and promoting U.S. business interests in Iraq is a top priority for the Trump Administration. As Secretary Tillerson discussed yesterday, we are working to mobilize the innovative capabilities of U.S. companies to expand economic ties and increase foreign investment in support of Iraq's reconstruction in the wake of ISIS.

The United States, of course, brings some of the best companies in the world to the table. Over the past few months, American companies have completed several commercial agreements to supply Iraq with nearly $2 billion worth of agricultural products, electricity equipment, and renewable energy technologies. Boeing, General Electric, ExxonMobile, Chevron, Constellis, Sally Port, Hillwood, Halliburton, and Honeywell are a few American brand name companies already doing business in Iraq.

GE, for example, has signed billions of dollars’ worth of contracts with Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity. GE equipment now supports an estimated 60 percent of Iraq’s electricity needs.

Other American companies, such as Orion, Trac Development Group, and Blue Sky Energy are also finalizing or currently implementing new investment projects around the country, including capturing flared gas to provide additional revenue for reconstruction and investment.

This is what we now seek to unleash, the power of the private sector — with some of the most innovative companies in the world— to help identify sustainable long-term solutions to the challenges identified in the Iraq's reconstruction framework and Vision 2030 program.

At the private sector event yesterday, Secretary Tillerson announced that the United States is committed to supporting the U.S. private sector in Iraq through the work of the Export-Import Bank (EXIM) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

Last night, the EXIM Bank and Iraq’s Ministry of Finance signed a $3 billion Memorandum of Understanding that will set a stage for the future cooperation across key sectors of Iraq’s economy including oil and gas, transportation, and commodities.



The Iraqi Ministry of Finance has agreed to identify potential projects in Iraq for procurement of goods manufactured in the United States and services produced by American workers including infrastructure, rail and road transportation, aircraft, energy, health care, and security, among others.



Similarly, OPIC, which supports development through a model of investment rather than aid, has five active projects in Iraq totaling $250 million and is currently reviewing over $500 million in new project proposals. These projects are helping increase the supply of affordable housing in the country, and helping entrepreneurs and small businesses access financing to start and expand their businesses. This will create jobs and economic opportunity.

And this is only the beginning; as this financing is utilized, there will be more behind it.

In total, with this new $3 billion in financing, and nearly $1 billion in security sector support, announced this week, the United States has contributed over $10 billion in security, economic, and commercial sector support since 2014.

These contributions, all pursued under our Strategic Framework Agreement with Iraq, helped set the foundation on which the impressive 10-year Iraqi program introduced this week rests, and from which Iraq can now work towards sustainable growth and long-term recovery.

In conclusion, Prime Minister Abadi and the Government of Iraq’s vision is impressive; it is ambitious; and, it is right. We are proud to support it, and we are encouraged by this historic gathering here today in Kuwait.

Thank you for your attention and your partnership.