Promoting Inclusive Economic Growth and Job Creation in Iraq

Project launched to promote inclusive economic growth and job creation in Iraq

A ceremony was held to formally launch the 'Strengthening the agriculture and agri-food value chain and improving trade policy' (SAAVI) project.

The five-year project worth EUR 22.5 million is funded by the European Union and is being implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) in close collaboration with the Government of Iraq and other local partners.

Representatives from public and private sector, innovators, farmers, and development partners attended the event that served as an occasion to discuss opportunities and present solutions to build more inclusive agri-food value chains in the country.

A fast-paced business breakfast opened the day. ITC presented the key findings from the nation-wide market analysis for high potential agri-products. Private sector representatives shared their experiences in the Iraqi market offering ideas to improve the competitiveness of agribusinesses in the country.

A plenary session brought together private sector actors, innovators, farmers, and development partners to discuss opportunities and present solutions to build more inclusive agrifood value chains from 'farm to fork'.

Participants experienced unique flavours and a live 'cooking demonstration' using ingredients from the local cuisine by a renowned chef. This was followed by a technical session dedicated to climate change risks and opportunities in Iraqi agrifood value chains concluded the event before the closing remarks.

SAAVI seeks to enhance the competitiveness of agriculture and related activities and improve trade policy in Iraq.  It addresses farm and firm level challenges and strengthens the value chains in the agriculture sector. This is done through the elaboration of strategies for high potential products, by building productive and commercial agricultural value chain analysis, while introducing upgrades in the production and marketing systems through capacity building to farmers and firms, the provision of a wide range of business development services, and technical agriculture training, among others. By fostering more competitive food systems, SAAVI also makes a considerable difference in enhancing food security through the improvement of people's access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food.

SAAVI also builds the capacities of micro, small, and medium enterprises and broadens the knowledge and skills base for youth including training on entrepreneurship and business skills. Through SAAVI, technical and vocational skills programmes are also strengthened to better match the needs of the private sector.

Support is given to policymakers and key institutions involved in the WTO accession process, including capacity building on trade negotiation, policy formulation, and coordination.  WTO membership will help Iraq to complete domestic policy and reforms for the modernization of its business environment and achieve effective integration into global economy. Since the process of negotiation towards WTO accession is unique to each country, project activities will assist officials throughout the process.

Speaking at the ceremony, Ms. Barbara Egger, Head of Cooperation, European Union Delegation to Iraq said:

"The EU is proud to support the Iraqi government and its people in the development of the agricultural sector. SAAVI is a very important project that will provide an example of how public and private sector can work together in order to successfully promote diversification in Iraq by supporting agricultural value chains."

Dr Mahdi Al Jubori, Iraq's Deputy Minister for Agriculture and other high level government representatives participated in the launch ceremony.

Ms. Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano UN Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator also participated.

Ms. Pamela Coke Hamilton, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre in her message on the occasion said:

"Together with the EU and the government of Iraq, ITC is excited to work with MSMEs in Iraq to increase their competitiveness. We see improved food production as a pathway to diversify the economy and create jobs. This can also support Iraq's accession to the WTO. In this way, SAAVI is contributing to inclusive, sustainable, and resilient growth in Iraq."

In his speech, Mr. Eric Buchot, who leads the SAAVI project highlighted that:

"SAAVI builds the capacities and brings together key economic and institutional actors across the agrifood industry to enable Iraqi producers and firms to compete and connect to their own market".

(Source: UN)


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