By John Lee.
Mawtani reports that the Iraqi government has approved the construction of a private free-trade zone south of Baghdad.
Sabah al-Qaisi (pictured), the chairman of the Ministry of Finance's General Commission for Free Zones, told Mawtani:
"[The Ministry of Finance's General Commission for Free Zones] approved two requests submitted by a group of local investors to set up a private free-trade zone on an area of no less than five dunams (12,500 square metres) in the area of Uwaireej, south of Baghdad, to be used for commercial activities."
This investment project will be the first of its kind in the country, as no free-trade zone area was ever set up by the private sector before, but the commission is about to approve two other private free zones, one in Sulaimaniya, and the other in Dohuk, near the Ibrahim al-Khalil crossing with Turkey.
Iraq already has three main free-trade zones belonging to the public sector, located in Khor al-Zubair in Basra, Flaifel in Ninawa province, and another in al-Qaim, Anbar province.
"We set a condition that all investors must hire 50% of [the workers needed from] local manpower," al-Qaisi said, adding that it is important to "diversify sources of funding and to avoid total reliance on oil as the sole source of financial revenue".