From the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC):
Iraq, Open to the world..an IBBC conference at the Mansion house, celebrating Iraq's return to international engagement.
On 16th June IBBC are hosting possibly the largest delegation of Iraq businesses and government officials to the UK in recent times. This event is itself an indication of the more internationalist approach Iraqis are taking to business, trade, culture and diplomatic engagement with their neighbours and the world.
You can hear sessions on finance and energy, from leading international speakers, such as BP and Basra Gas, Standard Chartered, TBI and UKEF, GE, Siemens and The Sardar Group, and high-profile speakers on Heritage from the British Museum. And a Tech session with SAP, Mastercard and Iraq's new streaming stars, 1001.Professor Frank Gunter will also be launching the IBBC advisory council's report on Ports and Airport and Mr Laith Al Shaher, Deputy Minister of Oil and
H.E. Dr Haider M. Mekkiyah, Chairman of the National Investment Commission are making keynote speeches.
Since Saddam Hussein's time, Iraq has been a semi closed society, with movement outside the country barred until 2003 and then with limited confidence and resources to travel, Iraqi businesses have largely been marooned by conflict till the defeat of ISIS and terrorism more widely. Since then, Iraq has stabilised, enjoyed high oil prices, higher government income, begun to take its place among regional countries, hosted its neighbours, been open to international investment, (especially interested in UK support) and The PM Mr Al Sudani, has travelled regularly, internationally since his appointment in 2023.
Baghdad and Basrah are bristling with new developments and the country is regularly hosting large business delegations from around the world. Whilst IBBC co-hosted the first UK Iraq Trade Fair in mid-May, large UAE, Saudi, Japanese business delegations were in Baghdad as well as the largest ever German business delegation with over 30 company delegates.
Iraqis are resilient and have always recovered, from Saddam, invasion, ISIS, oil price crashes, now is a golden time.
A diversifying economy. Iraq is still dependent on oil income, and all financial indexes, including income per head and GDP (+4% '23) are all looking good, with 2022 surplus of over $40bn. Other areas of the economy are expanding off the back of this, especially consumer products, telecoms, education, and tourism. KRG has seen a 30% increase in tourists in 2023, this and other areas of Iraq are projected to grow 10% pa to 2027, Healthcare by 19% pa, food market at 4.13 % (largest growth segment is Confectionery & Snacks), beauty and personal care 6%, Household appliances 5.42%, luxury goods 4%, home laundry care 6%.
A modernising govt. Iraq is finding its confidence and has been active with diplomacy and hosting regional conferences, broking relations between Saudi, Iran, and Turkey, while also stimulating infrastructural development, from oil refineries to dry canal and housing projects, new electricity and renewable energy production, airport, and airline travel facilitation. Making access faster with Visas on arrival and travel between Baghdad Basra and Erbil easier. Much of the government's agenda is partly driven by catching up the public and business demands for products and capacity. But initiatives on invention, tech and digital communications differentiate it from previous governments thinking.
Investment. A tangible example of improved stability and diplomacy is the new Saudi Public investment fund (PIF) set to invest in Iraq, and IBBCs Iraq visits to Saudi, while IBBC has more Iraqi members and international companies than ever before.
Stability and security have also paid dividends in Basrah hosting of the Gulf cup which occurred without incident, and the bourgeoning number of tourists at religious and heritage sites.
Still challenges. The international community is still lagging in its view of Iraq, as international travel caution remains from US, EU and UK, and corruption is still prevalent, but on both counts, things are improving as the country moves towards international standards.
Come and meet the key international businesses and officials at our conference on June 16th, including over 20 private Iraqi banks, where we are exploring these themes with energy companies, educational panels, heritage, tech, infrastructure, the KRG, and significant investment and finance panels.
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