During the OECD Conference in Paris
Iraq is Elected to Chair the Mediterranean Investment Protection Program Working Group
investment program in Middle East and North Africa, dependent to (OECD), held a conference in Paris on 9/12/2013 under the title (Protecting investment in infrastructure in the Middle East and North Africa area: Minimizing risks in the times of instability ) with the participation of the representatives of (OECD ) member states and countries in the region , including Iraq as well as representatives of a number of important international institutions such as World Bank, European Investment Bank, EU Commission , Mediterranean Union and so on .
The conference discussed the best means to facilitate the investment process in infrastructure projects in Mediterranean and the Middle East by the private sector since the (OECD) believes that infrastructure is a key element of the Investment environment and a significant contributor to create jobs in addition to the growing demand for infrastructure which is hampered by low investment by private sector in large-scale projects as a result to international economic conditions and instability in some states in the region .
The conference focused in particular on using the partnership between public and private sectors structures, arbitration and ways of expanding utilizing of the currently available investment guarantees tools.
During the conference the official launch of Investment Protection Program Working Group was done which is part of the investment program in the Middle East and North Africa.
As, a representative of Iraq , NIC Chairman, Dr. Sami al-Araji participated in the conference in addition to Iraq ambassador in Paris Dr. Fred Mustafa , when during the first session of the conference Iraq and France were chosen for chairing the group .
The NIC Chairman, in his speech, expressed his deep thanks and gratitude to choose Iraq for chairing the group, the matter that indicated the organization’s appreciation to Iraq’s achievements, in rehabilitating its economy and creating encouraging investment environment that contributes to the process of rebuilding Iraq, and the OECD’s desire of strengthening Iraq’s role in the organization.
He indicated that choosing Iraq to be a head of a working group deals with investment protection sends a strong message to the investor about Iraq’s faith in investment importance to rebuild the country and its commitment to guarantee the investor’s rights.
Al- Araji also reviewed the cooperation between (OECD) and NIC which began since 2010 in important fields as executing the investment cities projects and different infrastructure projects, he also reviewed Iraq achievement in economic sphere during the last five years which witnessed intensive work in spite of difficulties ,referring that Iraq had succeeded in achieving a growth rate of 9% in 2012 and reduced the unemployment rate to 11% and the rate of poverty to be 19%, he also pointed to the big attention Iraq Government is paying to infrastructure development, as , water and sanitation, Electricity, Health , Education , Railways , Ports , Airports , Communications and so on adding that there are many ongoing projects and a large part of the budget of the current five-years plan (2013-2017) had been allocated to infrastructure and rehabilitating economic sectors .
He also stressed that the NIC establishment in 2007 came as a result to Iraq’s great interest in attracting investments by setting the suitable business environment and it is determined to create a legislative environment appropriate to investment and the investment law was the most important step on this road describing the current investment system with comfortable though it was not perfect while the Iraqi economy is still in a transitional stage from centralized economy to market economy; whereas GOI is looking forward to accomplish more .
Al-Araji also talked about the current existence of the foreign investment in Iraq and the continuous economic delegations visits to Iraq describing it as an important indicator to Iraq’s desire to attract more investors.
At the end of his speech the NIC chairman repeated his thanks and gratitude to (OECD) to select Iraq to be the head of Investment Protection Program Working Group and invited them to hold the next meeting in Baghdad.