In his joint press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on December 12, 2011, President Barak Obama noted that “In the coming years, it’s estimated that Iraq’s economy will grow even faster than China’s or India’s.”
Foreign and regional investors interested in Iraq’s economic potential, but uncertain about the country’s investment regulations, arbitration laws and tax structure, should consider consulting a series of recently published Investor Guides. Produced by the USAID-Tijara Provincial Economic Growth Program, Investor Guides are an example of US-Iraqi cooperation to support private sector development and economic growth in Iraq under the auspices of the Strategic Framework Agreement.
Three guides – to Anbar, Kirkuk and Baghdad – are available as practical tools that serve as roadmaps to local investment opportunities. Guides to Basrah, Najaf and Karbala will be published in early 2012.
Each guide contains a detailed accounting of the province’s demography, economy, geography and government structure. Potential investors will find a summary of the privileges and guarantees afforded by Iraq’s prevailing investment law. Specific regulations pertaining to industrial projects also are outlined, as are laws relating to free trade zones and dispute settlements.
“The Investor Guide lets potential investors know that in addition to producing over one million barrels of oil a day, Kirkuk also has modern hospitals, reliable electrical power and a major university producing graduates skilled in nursing, science, mathematics and foreign languages,” says Falah Abdul Rahman Mohammed, chairman of the Kirkuk Investment Commission. “This is the first document about Kirkuk that is useful for foreign investors because it includes instructions on how to obtain licenses and permits necessary to establish an investment project.”
Provincial investment commissions in Kirkuk and Baghdad plan to make their guides available to visiting businessmen with questions about tax rates and the banking system.
The USAID–Tijara Provincial Economic Growth Program published a national investment guide to Iraq in 2009, but realized that provinces also needed a document clarifying their investment procedures. Provincial investment commissions are ready to welcome investors interested in developing hotels, housing, retail shopping malls and recreation facilities.