First Iraq National Trade Forum connects small businesses to growth opportunities
As the country works to recover from an economic crisis, Iraq's agriculture and agri-food sectors have the potential to contribute to much-needed economic growth and diversification, job creation and enhanced sustainability and resilience - under the right conditions. This was the message from public and private-sector leaders at the opening of the first Iraq National Trade Forum on 28 November 2022.
Held in Baghdad, the two-day forum provided an opportunity for Iraqi small and medium-sized businesses in farming and food processing, packaging and logistics to connect with international suppliers and investors.
Jointly organized by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Iraq, the Forum hosted over 400 participants from almost all Iraqi governorates, including business leaders, international suppliers, investors, banks, policymakers, business support organizations, representatives from local and national authorities, as well as international development partners.
Through financial support of the European Union and the Government of Germany (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, KfW), the Iraq National Trade Forum brought together over 100 small businesses to network, forge business deals and offer investment opportunities, including one-on-one meetings with international suppliers of agricultural inputs and equipment. It also featured an exhibition, "Made in Iraq", where firms representing all Iraqi governorates could display their products.
'It is key to build the capacities of Iraqi farmers and involve them in the entire agriculture value chain so they can benefit. Many producers suffer because their agriculture products are not in line with buyer requirements. We believe meaningful partnerships drive the success for sector development.'
-- H.E. Abbas Al Alayawi, Minister of Agriculture, Iraq
'This event showed the best part of a vibrant Iraqi private sector that is ready to contribute to the economic growth and diversification of Iraq. And trade is a core element of this growth. The EU will continue to support the Iraqi government in its path towards the needed economic reforms that will help the private sector to expand and create jobs also in the new green economy.'
-- Agne Gleveckaite, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation - Head of Political Section
'As the UN in Iraq, we have an ever-present responsibility to leave no one behind. We urge companies here today to think creatively: what role are you playing in promoting inclusive economic growth? In the UN's effort to support the Government of Iraq, we ask similar questions: how to ensure the most vulnerable are not left behind, and those most at risk are protected? The UN is here to support such initiatives.'
-- Ghulam Mohammad Isaczai, United Nations Deputy Special Representative, Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq
'Iraq's record oil-driven growth must be accompanied by smart investments, business opportunities, and further advocacy for essential economic reforms, which is what this forum is all about.'
-- Eric Buchot, Representative, Head of country programme, International Trade Centre
'Inadequate livelihood opportunities are among the greatest barriers to the sustainable return and reintegration of displaced persons in Iraq; and in the country's south, where climate change is increasingly felt in agricultural communities, limited livelihoods are an active cause of rural-urban displacement. Through its Enterprise Development Fund and events such as this one, IOM is pleased to work in collaboration with national and international partners to support agribusinesses and tap into the agricultural sector's potential to strengthen food security, sustainable income generation and durable solutions to displacement.'
-- Giorgi Gigauri, Chief of Mission for IOM in Iraq