EU, German support for Growth and Jobs in Iraq

European and German support for economic growth and jobs in Iraq

Governmental bodies of Federal Iraq and the Kurdish Region, including the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Offices and Ministries of Planning, discussed progress made in implementing economic reforms and creating sustainable job opportunities for Iraqis.

They met  as members of the steering committee of the "Private Sector Development and Employment Promotion Project (PSD)",  jointly commissioned by the German Government and the European Union with a total budget of 53 million EUR and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The meeting was hosted by the Ministry of Planning in Baghdad.

After discussing the current challenging economic context and its consequences on employment prospects and business growth in Iraq, the participants reviewed the achievements of the PSD project. Overall, the project led to 1,830 young people in Baghdad, Basrah, Nineveh, Diyala, Diwaniya and Erbil finding employment. Beneficiaries were trained on topics such as entrepreneurial knowledge and sector-specific skills (marketing, manufacturing of products, food processing, etc.).

The topics were selected with government partners based on the needs for these qualifications in the labour market. To ensure the sustainability of the approach, the project trained staff from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in conducting labour market assessments in sectors with high potential for employment creation.

The project, furthermore, supported structures such as chambers of commerce and industry. After initial training measures, the chambers provided business advice to over 800 micro-, small and medium companies, helping them expand their business or access loans.

Additionally, the project trained more than 250 civil servants and employees from the Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Ministry of Youth and Sport as well as the Federal Commission of Integrity, on topics ranging from modern statistical tools for economic policy, vocational skills development for job seekers, and provision of career guidance to young graduates and job seekers.

In the Kurdish Region, the project advised the government on key reforms in areas such as rural development and economic diversification. With the establishment of Public-Private Dialog Platforms, the project created processes to identify and work on challenges for small and medium-sized companies and enhance the companies' capabilities to participate actively in policy-making processes.

The project's representatives highlighted the crucial role and strong commitment that the government partners, but also other cooperation entities - including business chambers and associations, governmental training centers, universities and non-governmental partners - played in achieving these results.

Dr. Maher Johan, Deputy Technical Minister in the Ministry of Planning, expressed his gratitude for the support from the German government and the European Union. He reiterated the commitment of the Iraqi side to ensure the sustainability of the project's achievements:

"With the great efforts from all partners in the implementation of this project, we have already achieved many tangible results. It is the duty of the Iraqi government to ensure that we continue our efforts to provide sustainable solutions for the challenges Iraq's private sector is facing."

Dr. Kanar Fadhil Hidayat, Director General of Development Cooperation and Coordination at the Ministry of Planning of the KRG, praised the successful cooperation and emphasised the high relevance of the project:

"Private sector development is one of the key priorities of the KRG's 9th Cabinet. Given the high number of unemployed youths, we need to work together to ensure that private sector jobs are a viable option."

Mr. Niels Schütt, representing the German Embassy, highlighted the importance of the project for the German cooperation in Iraq:

"The strong commitment of our government partners, as seen in the quality of our discussions in the steering committee, is once again a sign that the support Germany is channeling through the PSD project is providing a useful contribution to our partners in Iraq and bearing concrete and tangible results.

"This is important to us because Iraq has been a key priority for the German cooperation since 2014 and currently represents the largest portfolio for the GIZ; one of the German agencies implementing the technical cooperation projects on our behalf."

Ms. Barbara Egger, Head of the European External Action Service at the EU Delegation, congratulated the project and its partners on the recent achievements. She stated that the European Union will further bundle activities under the Team Europe Initiative to avoid duplication of efforts and save resources:

"The Team Europe Initiative is a truly European approach based on already existing strong coordination and collaboration between the EU, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands. It aims to further expand the collaboration through joint projects, thus facilitating coordination with our Iraqi partners".

GIZ highlighted that many activities already take into account challenges such as climate change and the transformation to a green economy. Therefore, the project works directly with its partners on possible solutions and the development of innovative business ideas. Christoph Feldkötter, Country Director of GIZ, highlighted:

"Especially in the fields of photovoltaic and sustainable agriculture, steps have been made to untap hidden potentials in the markets and support SMSE in developing innovative ideas along value chains."

(Source: GIZ)

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