German Trade With Iraq Reaches New Highs

Business between Iraq and Germany has picked up dramatically and trade has reached levels not seen since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Germany's Economy Ministry said on Thursday, according to a report from Reuters.

Trade volumes between the two countries grew by an annual 63 percent last year, surpassing 1 billion euro ($1.5 billion) for the first time since the conflict, and highlighting the growing role played in Iraq by Europe's largest economy.

Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle (pictured) said Germany was planning to boost business ties with the country in response to a huge demand for investment, especially in infrastructure.

"The business relationship with Iraq is developing outstandingly," he said in a statement. "We want to intensify our cooperation even further in the future."

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari paid a visit to Berlin on Wednesday, during which Germany relaxed its travel guidelines for Iraq, saying business trips with professional security measures could now be considered.

German exports to Iraq, mainly machinery, cars, electrical goods, chemicals and steel, rose 54 percent last year to 926 million euros. Imports to Germany, almost exclusively oil, nearly doubled to 160 million euros.

Increased production would give Iraq the money it needs to rebuild, but everything depends on whether the OPEC member can secure its oilfields, refineries and other infrastructure.

Eight years after the invasion which removed dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraq says it needs investment of about $600 billion, after war and sanctions crippled its economy.

Last year, Baghdad agreed it would allocate $186 billion for a five-year plan to rebuild the economy, planning about 2,700 projects in different sectors with the government funding more than 50 percent of costs and the rest paid by private investors.

(Source: Reuters)

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