U.S. Commerce Department said on Wednesday that it will lead an historic trade mission to Iraq in October, the first since the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq.
Francisco Sanchez, under secretary of Commerce for International Trade, will lead the mission, which will include representatives from 15 U.S. companies including Boeing and General Electric, the Commerce Department said in a statement.
The announcement came one day after U.S. President Barack Obama formally announced the end of combat operations in Iraq, saying the United States has met its responsibility, and “it is time to turn the page.”
“The U.S.-Iraq bilateral relationship is entering a new phase of commercial engagement,” Sanchez said. “This trade mission will connect American and Iraqi companies in a partnership to rebuild the Iraqi economy. This mission will be economically and commercially beneficial to U.S. and Iraqi firms, and the citizens of Iraq.”
“This mission brings business expertise into the country at a critical time, and will enable U.S. companies to position themselves to enter or expand their presence in Iraq,” Sanchez said.
The mission will provide U.S. participants with first-hand market information and access to government decision makers. Additionally, one-on-one meetings will be arranged with potential agents, distributors, and partners, according to the Department.
The U.S. government sees great opportunities for increased trade and investment in Iraq, whose Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has more than doubled since 2006, soaring from 57 billion dollars to 112 billion dollars in 2009.