The UK’s Foreign Office Minister, Lord Howell, addressed the Iraq-British Business Council (IBBC) on 24 May:
It is a pleasure to address you today here at the IBBC’s Iraq Day Summit Conference. The IBBC’s commitment to Iraq is much welcomed by this Government.
The UK Government continues to develop a strong and supportive bilateral relationship with Iraq and trade and commerce is a key strand of this.
The recent events across the Middle East and North Africa have shown the world that the peoples of this region no only want more democracy – in one form or another – but also now feel empowered to demand it. They want a voice and to be able to influence how they are governed. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq is already walking that path and has taken many steps towards democracy. Iraq is also increasingly establishing its regional policies. Bilaterally we have seen Iraq establish strong and positive relations with Turkey, which has both improved Iraq’s security and business environment. Iraq also holds the Presidency of the Arab League, showing how far Iraq has come in recent years. Internationally, the Government of Iraq has voiced strong support for the democratic movements across the region. Foreign Policy is rarely a smooth road, but it is important that Iraq plays an active and positive role shaping the region.
The investment environment is changing in Iraq. The country has seen improvements in the security situation, progress in political governance and knowledge that strengthening the economy will bring with it prosperity for her people. But there is still work to be done to ensure strong independent institutions are embedded that deliver transparent governance, basic services and increased employment opportunities for all Iraqis. International trade will play its part in helping Iraq to continue down the positive path of democracy and development, and to deliver prosperity for its citizens.
British business interest in Iraq is growing as new opportunities open up to foreign investment. But there are also challenges that need to be overcome in doing business in Iraq, such as high levels of bureaucracy, further improvement in the security situation and bolstering the central government capacity that assures the Rule of Law. But the FCO and UKTI stand ready to support British businesses in overcoming these challenges and will continue to work with the Iraqi government to continue to improve the investment environment.
So what are we are doing to support British Business?