Haider al-Abadi overseeing the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Iraq and the Export-Import Bank of the United States extending a $3 billion line of credit in Kuwait on Tuesday. Photo: Iraqi PM office
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Iraqi government is “open for investors” at the second day of the Kuwait donor conference that focused on private investment opportunities, but looks like it will fall well short of its goal.
Presenting more than 200 projects, ranging from oil refineries to housing and transportation, “Iraq is open for investors,” said Sami al-Araji, chairman of Iraq’s National Investment Commission.
Baghdad has taken a number of steps to make it easier for private investment and ensure transparency, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told the conference. He arrived in Kuwait on Tuesday.
Iraq estimated it would need $88 billion to rebuild the country after ISIS, but may walk away with just $4 billion in pledges, the New York Times reported.
“I am not expecting any contracts to be signed,” Araji told the Times.
Abadi held several meetings on the sidelines of the conference.
He met with the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Muller, accompanied by heads of German corporations.
Muller presented a proposal for strategic projects in Iraq, Abadi’s office stated after the meeting.
“Some are related to the electricity sector, creating thousands of job opportunities, training Iraqi youth in specialist fields by the best German companies and establishing a centre for professional training,” his office detailed.
Abadi also met with the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, who confirmed EU support for Iraq in the post-ISIS phase, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahisa Sato, and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
The United States is not pledging direct financial aid, but is encouraging private investment.
“Our policy posture has changed since previous administrations – remember we used to be in the whole nation-building. The United States Government is not doing that any longer,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters last week.
The US did extend to Baghdad a $3 billion credit line to “set a stage for future cooperation,” Tillerson announced in Kuwait where he urged members of the global anti-ISIS coalition to remain committed to post-ISIS Iraq.
“We must continue to clear unexploded remnants of war left behind by ISIS, enable hospitals to reopen, restore water and electricity services, and get boys and girls back in school,” he said.
On the first day of the conference, NGO’s pledged more than $330 million.
KRG officials seeking funding for some 80 projects are attending the conference that wraps up on Wednesday.