Iraq eyes non-oil investments

Iraq wants to form joint ventures with foreign investors to overhaul some 240 idle factories around the country over the next five years, Deputy Minister of Industry and Minerals Adel Karim said on Tuesday.

“The ministry’s new policy is to offer these companies to investors, which means to start a strategic partnership with international companies,” he told Reuters in an interview. “The best way to do so up to the moment is through production sharing.”

Sectors open for investments range from construction, engineering, petrochemicals and fertilizers, to food, drugs and textiles, he said. Many of the factories are either outdated, were looted in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion or are located in areas still controlled by Islamist insurgents.

Karim said despite all the problems his ministry is facing, it had managed to award a few tenders to foreign companies and restore some factories, bringing them back on line. The ministry spent more than $1 billion to rehabilitate factories in the past two years, and plans to allocate another $500 million in 2010.

“We are ready to make a deal with any investor who has the will to invest or to rent one of our factories for a specified time to rehabilitate it,” he said.

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