By Stephen Beecroft, US Ambassador to Iraq.
Last month marked the one-year anniversary of the U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq and the beginning of a new chapter in our bilateral relationship. Over the past year, Iraq has assumed an increasingly prominent place in the region politically and economically.
For example, Iraq hosted an Arab League Summit as well as “P5+1” negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. It now produces more oil than at any time in the last 30 years and is projected to be the fastest growing economy in the world in 2013.
The United States welcomes Iraq’s success and will continue to strive to support all the Iraqi people, through the Strategic Framework Agreement that governs our bilateral relationship, in safeguarding the constitutional rights of all citizens, providing essential services to the people, developing its economy, and establishing a modern military to defend its sovereignty.
For the United States, a top priority is to expand American investment and commercial ties with Iraq, especially since bolstering the private sector here is critical to growing the economy, reaching full employment, and raising the standard of living.
As a matter of fact, the U.S. Pavilion at the Baghdad International Fair in November featured a broad range of leading American companies eager to do business in Iraq. Iraqi exports to the United States rose 40 percent in 2011 while U.S. exports to Iraq rose 47 percent. Iraq recently took possession of an American-built Boeing 777 passenger aircraft, which can carry more passengers and cargo farther than any other jetliner today. Iraq also is scheduled to begin taking delivery of 30 Next-Generation Boeing 737s in mid-2013.