The investment outlook in Iraq will be probed at a key summit in Bahrain. In its ongoing commitment to provide intelligent market analysis for the region in a frank and open forum, Economist Conferences, part of The Economist Group, will host the Iraq Business and Investment Summit.
It will be held at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, Hotel and Spa on Wednesday 29th September.
The summit will provide a platform for panelists to discuss the broader Iraqi economy.
The event will feature senior ministers from the Iraq government and Kurdistan alongside business leaders and experts from The Economist Group, to engage in a debate on the critical issues affecting the investment outlook of Iraq.
Government speakers include Iraqi government spokesman Ali Dabbagh; Iraqi Minister of Industry and Minerals, Fawzi Al Hariri; Kurdistan Regional Government Minister of Planning, and Ali Sindi; and senior adviser to the prime minister Farhad Alaaldin.
Key findings of an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) white paper on international investor perceptions of Iraq will be distributed at the event.
The report is based on a programme of desk research, a survey of 367 senior executives, and 13 in-depth interviews with business executives, diplomats and investment experts.
The research argues that against a backdrop of difficult political and economic transitions, Iraq is once again opening its doors to foreign business overall.
The inflow of oil revenue, and expectations of substantial increases, has allowed the government to pass expansionary budgets and announce ambitious investment plans of approximately $186bn over the next five years. Eleven technical service contracts have been signed since last year that will see international oil companies help boost existing oil production, and the EIU forecasts that production could almost triple to over six million barrels per day by 2016.
Beyond the hydrocarbons sector, opportunities abound for enterprising businesses looking to enter the Iraqi market.
The study concluded that investor opinion about Iraq is divided with 49 per cent of respondents judging that "the ongoing violence means doing business in Iraq will remain too risky for some time".
However, 51pc said their perceptions of Iraq as a place to do business had improved in the past two years, compared to only 12pc who said it got worse.
Construction was seen as the most promising sector after oil and gas with 46pc of investors seeing real estate as the country's single most promising non-hydrocarbons sector, followed by chemicals, 25pc.
The report found that the most attractive aspect of Iraq is the country's oil and gas resources, which are cited by 58pc as one of the top three attractions. However, Iraq's untapped consumer market is almost as big a draw, selected by 49pc of those surveyed, with the chance of achieving first-mover advantage being the third most popular choice.
The full results of the survey, along with the latest issues on Iraq's investment challenges and opportunities, prospects for recovery in the non-oil economy, and its political future, will be discussed at the summit.