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Washington, D.C. - Today, senior representatives of the governments of the United States and Iraq held the inaugural meeting in Washington of the United States-Iraq Council on Trade and Investment (TIFA Council), which was established under the United States-Iraq Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The dialogue under the TIFA reaffirms both governments’ commitment to increase bilateral trade and investment.
Both governments place strong importance on broadening their strategic partnership beyond military and security ties. Today’s meeting demonstrates the continuing close cooperation between Iraq and the United States on economic, trade, and investment issues. U.S. – Iraqi cooperation in these areas is aimed at further integrating Iraq into the global economy and thereby creating jobs and attracting investment in both countries. In that regard, the United States expressed its continued support for Iraq’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the two governments discussed ways for Iraq to advance its WTO accession process. Iraq is currently the United States’ 27th largest goods trading partner and 60th largest export market. U.S. goods exports to Iraq from January to December 2013 totaled $2 billion. Iraqi goods exports to the United States in that period totaled $13.3 billion. Total U.S. foreign direct investment in Iraq is $1.2 billion.
During today’s TIFA Council meeting, representatives from Iraq and the United States discussed business development and trade diversification with an emphasis on trade and investment cooperation in the following sectors that are quickly growing in Iraq: agriculture; electric power; housing projects and infrastructure; water, sewage, and sanitation; roads and bridges; engineering; metallurgical and petrochemical projects; light and heavy industry; and health, financial, and educational services. Iraqi representatives explained that Iraq is making important progress to facilitate the importation of goods into Iraq and to ensure that U.S. companies can participate in Iraqi government procurement tenders by reducing unnecessary documentation requirements. In a number of areas, the United States is providing technical assistance to help Iraq improve its capacity to regulate trade in a way that does not unnecessarily burden commerce.
The TIFA process is a key part of the sustained and multi-faceted high-level engagement between the two governments and focuses on tackling major trade and investment challenges.
The bilateral government -to-government discussions during today’s TIFA Council meeting covered the following areas: 1) investment climate issues; 2) business development; 3) government procurement; 4) import policies; 5) labor issues; 6) agricultural trade; and 7) services sector issues. The two governments also identified three general areas for additional attention during future TIFA Council meetings: government procurement, women’s economic empowerment, and intellectual property rights.