Washington, D.C. – On the 14th of June 2019, the second session of the United States-Iraq Trade and Investment Council convened in Washington, D.C., which was established under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement signed between the two countries in 2005. The Council was co-chaired by Iraq Minister of Trade Dr. Mohammed Hashim Al-Ani and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish.
During the meeting, Iraq and the United States discussed a range of bilateral trade and investment issues. U.S.-Iraqi cooperation in these areas aims at further integrating Iraq into the global economy and seeking ways to promote greater reciprocal market access, thereby creating jobs and attracting investment to both countries. In this regard, the United States expressed its support for Iraq’s decision to reengage in the accession process of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and to undertake the domestic reforms required to conform to WTO obligations and liberalize tariffs and trade in services. The United States also expressed its support for the decision by Iraq to accept tax declarations prepared according to international financial standards.
To attract foreign direct investment in priority areas, Iraq acknowledged the need for a strong, appropriate, and suitable investment environment with transparent regulations. Iraq has assured the United States that it will issue 12-month multiple entry visas to U.S. citizens and facilitate visits by the National Investment Commission for U.S. investors through granting 6-month multiple entry visas via a visa-issuing special office located at the airport. In the meantime, the Commission is working on implementing a single window system to facilitate and streamline procedures, and working with the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank to improve Iraqi banks’ performance and furthering their support to small and medium projects.
Furthermore, the Government of Iraq is working with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development to implement the single-window system for business registration that could reduce challenges encountered by investors.
To improve bilateral and reciprocal market access, the United States raised the issue of reducing unnecessary documentation requirements and using international standards. The United States also encouraged Iraq to reduce its tariff on poultry. Iraq and the United States also discussed rice and wheat imports and the transparency of Iraq’s grain tendering process under two memoranda of understanding. To increase purchases of medicines, medical devices, and equipment, Iraq and the United States are collaborating on a memorandum of understanding.
Both governments committed to make progress in advance of the next Council meeting.