Reuters reports that Iraq is expected to attract more overseas investment this year after foreigners were net buyers on its stock exchange in 2010, snapping up $53 million worth of shares, the market’s head said on Sunday.
Taha A. Abdulsalam, chief executive of the Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX), said foreign investors were showing interest across the board’s 85 listed companies and this was expected to increase as sentiment improved after the formation of a new government.
“They [foreigners] bought about 36 billion shares and they sold only 5 billion shares,” Abdulsalam told Reuters in an interview. “I believe the numbers will be increased [this year].”
He said foreigners – mainly from the United States, Europe, the Gulf and Egypt – had bought 62 billion Iraqi dinars ($53 million) worth of shares in 2010. Eight billion Iraqi dinars worth of shares had been sold, he added.
Iraq’s battered infrastructure is in desperate need of investment as the country slowly gets back on its feet after decades of war and economic sanctions.
Foreign firms have started putting money into the oil-rich country but security and red tape remain concerns as U.S. troops withdraw from the country eight years after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
However, the formation of a new government more than nine months after inconclusive elections has raised hopes among foreign investors of greater stability in the country, Abdulsalam said.