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Italy-Iraq: De Mistura, creating business joint ventures

Presenting investment opportunities in Iraq to Italian businesses is the goal of the “Iraq Trade and Investment Forum” organized by UNIDO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for 23 May at the foreign ministry in Rome, whose participants include institutional and business representatives from both countries, and during which 400 business meetings are expected to take place.

Italy aims to set up joint ventures, Under-Secretary Staffan De Mistura explained in his opening speech, underscoring that “Iraq has vast resources and able people”, and “despite the difficult financial situation, its industries have strength, energy, enormous skill and a desire to get going again”.

A bridge between Asia and Europe

Iraq offers major possibilities to foreign partners, according to Deputy Minister for Industry Mohamad Mohammad: geographically positioned as a bridge between Asia and Europe, rich natural resources (minerals, gas and obviously oil, of which Iraq is the world’s 4th largest producer), a skilled labour force and a “hunger” for infrastructure. On the energy front, he added, the goal is to increase the production of crude oil from two to twelve million barrels a day, and regarding small and midsized enterprises, “we have a very ambitious plan”.

The “door to Iraq” is called Kurdistan, Minister for Industry of the Kurdish regional government Sinan Chalabi explained, specifying that his was one of the safest regions in the Middle East, offering fertile farm land, water, a rapidly expanding construction sector and ample educational offerings (20 universities already present).

Italy: Iraq’s top European partner

Italy is Iraq’s top European trade partner, recalled the MFA’s Director General for Country Promotion Maurizio Melani, noting a steady upward trend in exports and pointing out that large-scale works in Iraq are “major drivers for the development of both local production and for Italian firms”. He then pointed out how, through its businesses, Italy had already completed, among other things, a transport and infrastructure development plan and a dam at Mossul, while an Italian proposal was being drafted for a refinery in Kerbala.