Kadhimi calls on int. community to boost investment in Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and representatives of NATO state members in Brussels, Belgium, June 30, 2021. (Iraqi PM office)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Wednesday called on the international community to enhance investment opportunities in Iraq, as the country aims to develop its economy.

Kadhimi paid a visit to Belgium on Tuesday to hold talks with EU and NATO officials in Brussels.

He met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and permanent representatives of NATO member states as well as President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo on Wednesday.

During his meeting with NATO member states, Kadhimi said economic reforms could not be achieved without having an economic growth.

“Iraq seeks to encourage the international community to enhance investment opportunities in Iraq in a way that ensures sustainable development that contributes to supporting economic reform,” Kadhimi added.

Recently, Iraq has intensified efforts to encourage the international community to invest in the country.

In April, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi agreed with Saudi Arabia and the UAE on investment projects in Iraq, worth more than $6 billion.

Iraq has been grappling with an unprecedented liquidity crisis, particularly after an oil price crash in 2020.

OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer relies almost exclusively on its crude exports to fund its budget, which includes a bloated public sector and mass subsidies.

Kadhimi’s calling for investment by the international community is also a way to drop the unemployment rate, which led to protests across the country.

Iraq struggles with growing rates of unemployment due to a shattered economy and corruption. According to Iraqi prime minister’s adviser Mazhar Mohammed, the unemployment rate among youths in Iraq has risen to 29 percent.

Kadhimi further said during the meeting with NATO member states that Iraq’s white reform paper aimed to restore balance to the Iraqi economy.

In October, the prime minister issued a much-anticipated 95-page “white paper” for economic reform.

If the paper is implemented, it will prompt a drastic overhaul of the entire system within three to five years, according to Iraqi officials.

“Our government sought to present an economic reform paper called the White Paper, which is a comprehensive roadmap aimed at reforming the Iraqi economy and addressing the serious challenges it faces,” Kadhimi said.

“The white paper aims to restore balance to the Iraqi economy, and put it on a path that allows the state to take appropriate steps in the future to develop it into a diversified economy that creates opportunities for citizens to live a decent life,” he added.

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