Connecting U.S. Companies to Opportunities in Iraq

October 6, 2010
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Francisco J. Sánchez is the Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade

A Historic Opportunity

This week I led 14 U.S. companies on the first trade mission to Iraq since the end of combat operations. It was very exciting to facilitate the connection between these firms and potential buyers in Iraq. I also met with many of my counterparts to engage and enhance the commercial dialogue between the United States and Iraq.

I am honored to bring with me companies from Washington and California,  New York and Michigan to meet with Iraqi businesses and government ministries who are poised to capitalize on a vast array of infrastructure and construction projects planned in the near future.

Under Secretary Sanchez meets with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey

Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sanchez (l) meets with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey (r)

Iraq’s government has budgeted more than $80 billion for infrastructure development, including projects constructing highways, railways, telecommunications and defense. Iraq’s private sector also offers opportunities in oil and gas, construction and communications technology.

The United States and Iraq have entered a new phase of commercial engagement, and I am confident that the recent transition will lead to a stronger economic relationship between our two nations. This trade mission that I am leading is a symbol of the U.S. commitment to develop a lasting friendship with Iraq based on mutual respect and shared interests. This marks the beginning of a new commercial relationship between the United States and Iraq.

The unprecedented interest generated by last October’s U.S.-Iraq Business and Investment Conference held in Washington, D.C., and the activities of the U.S.-Iraq Business Dialogue have demonstrated that there is great opportunity for increased trade and investment in the region. Iraq’s GDP has more than doubled since 2006, soaring from $57 billion to $112 billion in 2009

During my time here I’ve met with Deputy Minister of Trade Walid Habib Al-Moswee, Dr. Hussain Al-Shahristani, Iraq’s Minister of Oil and Acting Minister of Electricity, and Dr. Sami Al-Araji, chairman of Iraq’s National Investment Commission. My hope is that the meetings we’ve had will be the first of many in the coming months.

During my meeting with Dr. Al-Shahristani, I advocated for continued negotiations between the federal and provincial governments on energy issues and passage of the Hydrocarbons and Electricity Laws by the Council of Representatives. These actions would establish the rule of law in the energy sector and support a legal and regulatory environment more conductive to international investment in Iraq.

These reforms should encourage more U.S. companies to enter Iraq, as the reduction in risk and further clarity would lower the costs of operating here.

Some of my discussions with Dr. Al-Araji included the benefits of ratifying several outstanding bilateral agreements that would assist Iraq in achieving a sound investment climate and expanded regulatory reforms to promote investment. I also stressed the importance of Iraq continuing to move forward on WTO accession as a part of the country’s efforts to integrate into the global multilateral trading system.

All of this attention on improving the economy and investment climate in Iraq will ultimately benefit the Iraqi people and help to integrate Iraq into the global economic system.

The companies who traveled with me have participated in nearly 170 meetings with prospective clients in Iraq. As Fox Business News described it, it’s like speed dating for business. The potential for doing business is certainly plentiful.

Expanded Exports and Jobs

This is Commerce’s 24th trade mission since President Obama announced the National Export Initiative (NEI) during his State of the Union earlier this year. As of today, Commerce has led more than 250 companies on trade missions to 28 countries. The NEI aims to double U.S. exports in the next five years, supporting several million new jobs.

To learn more about commercial opportunities in Iraq visit trade.gov/iraq


  1. Just a quick cautionary note:

    A new study by Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch points out that exports to those countries that we have free trade agreements with have actually been slower than to those with which we don’t have FTAs.

    The report is here: http://www.citizen.org/Page.aspx?pid=4398, and details how the export calculations done by the Chamber of Commerce are flawed.

    I hope the much talked-of NEI will recognize that FTAs are not the way to go if you want to promote exports.

  2. thanks for this

  3. Very exciting that we are doing business with Iraqi after all the efforts we have put there. Will we be taking U.S. contract workers overseas or will the jobs all go to Iraqis?

    • The Iraqi government is seeking mostly American companies to do all sorts of work. Like any other Country it is required to hire local people. The challenge is the language barrier, will need to hire a person able to speak, Kurish, Arabic, English.

  4. Dear Mr Sánchez,

    What would be your evaluation of two important factors.

    What is the current status of the local telecom industry? Does it support or hinder the establishment of local businesses?

    What is the local attitude to FDI and foreign partnerships? (Though governmental support may be plenty, at the end of the day, it is the locals who will either appreciate the effort, or make it impossible to operate.)

    My company markets mobile VAS solutions to emerging markets, and we have customers in the entire EMEA region. However, Iraq has been a challenge as it requires in-depth local knowledge and poses/posed serious security risks. What is your view on these issues now?

    Thank you.


  5. The blog describes the relationship of two countries The United States and Iraq have entered a new phase of commercial engagement, and I am confident that the recent transition will lead to a stronger economic relationship Between two countries. These new laws should encourage more U.S. companies to enter Iraq, as there is low risk and lower operational costs

  6. It’s nice to read this article. It just a new start of building a great relationship of Iraq and US. I’m looking forward for some updates on this.

  7. Anything to help a war ravaged country get back on its feet is a good act. This is just the first step in many other steps to help redevelop Iraq.

  8. It’s kind of funny to see Irak contracted the destroyers to rebuild the country.

    • Most of them are thank-full for saving them from the previous regime, specially the Kurdish people.

  9. what will be the actual output? need some details about it

  10. The best area to do business Kurdistan region such as Erbil, Duhok, and Sulaymaniyah. It is very safe, a great opportunity and people like Americans and want us here. I currently have my export business in Erbil, Iraq.

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