06 March 2014
Senior representatives of the governments of Iraq and the United States advanced trade and bilateral relations between the two countries at the inaugural meeting of the United States–Iraq Council on Trade and Investment (TIFA Council) in Washington March 5.
The TIFA Council was established under the United States–Iraq Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), and the dialogue under the agreement 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,” the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said in a March 5 news release following the meeting. “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.”
The TIFA process is a key part of the sustained and multifaceted high-level engagement between the two governments and focuses on tackling major trade and investment challenges.
In the meetings, 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, USTR said.
Representatives from both countries also discussed business development and trade diversification, USTR said, with an emphasis on trade and investment cooperation in the following sectors, which 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.
Iraq is currently the United States’ 27th-largest goods trading partner and 60th-largest export market, according to the USTR. U.S. goods exports to Iraq from January to December 2013 totaled $2 billion, and 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.
“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,” USTR said. In a number of areas, it added, 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.
USTR said the bilateral discussions during the meeting covered the following areas: investment climate issues, business development, government procurement, import policies, labor issues, agricultural trade and 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.
The U.S.-Iraq TIFA (PDF, 837KB) is available in English and Arabic on the USTR website.