Past Events

Seminar: Investment and Business Opportunities in Iraq

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Brussels – 7 October 2013

seminar-investment-in-iraq-07-10-13 01

On the 7th of October, the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq in Brussels, the Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce (ABLCC) and the Belgian Federation for the Technology Industry AGORIA organized a seminar entitled “Investment and Business Opportunities in Iraq” with the participation of a ministerial and high level delegation from Iraq, high level representatives of the European Commission, the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and business delegations from Iraq, Belgium and Luxembourg.

H.E. Dr. Rowsch Nuri Shaways, Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, opened the seminar with an overview of important developments that have taken place in Iraq over the last year, underlining the continuous efforts of the Iraqi government to develop a productive and sustainable economy. Warm words of welcome were also pronounced by the organizers of the seminar, H.E. Mr. Mohammed Al Humaimidi, Ambassador of Iraq to Belgium, Luxembourg and the EU, Mr. Pieter Jan Provoost, Director of the Carbon Energy Club at AGORIA and Mr. Qaisar Hijazin, Secretary General of the ABLCC.

The reality of Investing in Iraq

seminar-investment-in-iraq-07-10-13 02Moderated by Mr. Ghassan Ejjeh, Vice President of BESIX and member of the ABLCC Board of Directors, the opening workshop tackled the Iraqi Investment environment as well as benefits, guarantees, and exemptions offered in the Iraqi investment laws.

H.E. Dr. Sami Al Araji, Head of the National Investment Commission in Iraq, presented the 2013-2017 National Development Plan outlining the measures that should allow Iraq to benefit to the largest extent possible from the continuously improving macroeconomic situation and tackle obstacles to investment.

According to Mr. Herish Muharam, Head of the Investment Commission in the Kurdistan Region, and Dr. Ali Al Sindy, Minister of Planning in the Kurdistan Region Government, the latter region constitutes a forerunner in the country in terms of macroeconomic developments. The needs of the Kurdistan Region and a plan for action are identified in the Socio Economic Investment Need Analysis released by the Ministry of Planning of the Kurdistan Region and the UNDP in September 2013, and in the Kurdistan Vision 2020.

Investment opportunities also abound in Najaf, as was pointed out by H.E. Mr. Wafy Al-Bahash, Head of the Najaf Province Investment Commission. The province aspires to enhance development in the IT and communications sector, and is heavily investing in the development of infrastructure for cities, hotels, universities and other projects. More information about investing in Najaf can be found on

Presentation of H.E. Dr. Sami Al- Araji, (National Investment Commission in Iraq)
Presentation of H.E. Mr.Ali Al- Sindi (Ministry of Planning - Kurdistan region)
Presentation of H.E. Wafy Al-Bahash (Najaf Province Investment Commission)

seminar-investment-in-iraq-07-10-13 03Front row, fltr: Mr. Christian Berger, H.E. Ambassador Al Humaimidi and H.E. Dr. Rowsch Nuri Shaways, Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq

The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Iraq and the EU in the light of political developments in Iraq and the region

The EU is the second trading partner of Iraq, accounting for 20.7 % of Iraqi trade, while also ranking second internationally in terms of exports to the country where the Tigris and the Euphrates meet. Financial support from the EU has amounted to almost one billion euro since 2013, covering both reconstruction and humanitarian assistance.

Mr. Christian Berger, Director for the Middle East at the European Commission’s External Action Service, explained that the EU has a long-standing commitment to support Iraq in its reconstruction and transition to democracy. EU overall support to Iraq since 2003 has amounted to over 1 billion euro, not counting the bilateral contributions of Member States. Moreover, a new chapter of the bilateral relationship has been inaugurated through the signing of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) in May 2012.

In addition to the PCA, the EU Framework Program for Research and Innovation called “Horizon 2020” and initiatives such as the EU-Iraq Energy Center will provide a useful framework for the development of business activities in Iraq, according to Mr. Khalid al Khero, Deputy Head of the Department for Europe at the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Commenting on the excellent Belgian-Iraqi bilateral relations, Mrs. Michèle Deneffe, Director for the Middle East and North Africa at the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that a Belgian Honorary Consul will be appointed to facilitate business contacts between both countries. Mrs. Deneffe also referred to the MoU on Bilateral Political Consultations that was concluded at the beginning of 2013 and which will allow for the organization of political consultations on questions of common interest at the level of high civil servants once a year, alternatively in Brussels and Baghdad. Meanwhile, high level political contacts continue to take place on an ad hoc basis.

seminar-investment-in-iraq-07-10-13 04Fltr: Prof. Dr. Bichare Khader, Mrs. Michèle Deneffe, Mr. Khalid Al Khero, Mr. Christian Berger and H.E. Mr. Al Humaimidi

Investment in Transportation

Moderated by Mr. Henrik Hololei, Head of Cabinet at the DG Transport of the European Commission, the workshop on Investment in Transportation discussed opportunities linked to the development of the Al-Faw Grand Port and Iraq’s Dry Canal Project, amongst other projects. According to Dr. Al Araji, the former is to become one of the most important ports of Asia over the next 5 to 6 years, and will be embedded in an economic zone covering the chemical, petrochemical and logistics sectors. Investment opportunities also abound in the airport and railroads sectors.

Turning from Iraqi to Belgian ports, Mr. Albert Pegg, Senior Advisor at the Port of Antwerp, explained what the latter has on offer for Iraqi shippers and receivers. Handling 184 million ton per year and harboring a large number of specialized logistic companies, the Port of Antwerp can call itself the primary hub for cargo originating in Europe and the market leader in break bulk to and from all sailing areas. The port moreover offers international training and consultancy.

Presentation of Mr. Albert Pegg (Port of Antwerp)

Investment in Energy

Michael Hager, Head of Cabinet at DG Energy of the European Commission served as ‘Master of Ceremony’ for the workshop on Investment in Energy, in which Advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, Mr. Ihsan Al Attar, and his colleague at the Ministry of Electricity, Mr. Adel Hamid, shed light on Iraqi oil contracts, gas investment in the light of the Iraqi-EU PCA, Iraq’s Strategic projects in oil and gas sectors (including the Basra-Haditha-Aqaba pipeline project), the Oil and Gas Law, and the Iraqi Centre of Excellence and the Energy Academy.

Mr. Koen van Peteghem, General Manager at EMEA and in charge of Iraq-related projects at ABLCC member company CG Holdings Belgium, shared with the audience the product portfolio of CG, a global leader in the management and application of electrical energy, covering the entire value chain of engineering offerings.

Presentation of Mr. Koen van Peteghem, (EMEA, CG Holdings Belgium)
Presentation of Mr. Adel Hamid, (Iraqi Ministry of Electricity)

Investment in Iraq: Opportunities and Obstacles

The concluding workshop, moderated by Dr. Al Araji, aimed to shed light on the Iraq Investment Law, the effect of government intervention on the investment process, the security situation, infrastructure required to create an appropriate investment environment, and financial and administrative corruption.

Mr. Waleed Eidi, Director General of the Department of Statistics at the Central Bank of Iraq and Mr. Selim Haddad, Commercial Manager at ABLCC member company Byblos Bank Europe, moreover discussed in detail the Iraqi Economy and the state of the Iraqi banking sector.

Another ABLCC member company that shared its extensive experience in the Iraqi market was environmental solutions provider WATERLEAU. Vice President Sales and Marketing Mr. Willy Gils discussed the opportunities and obstacles encountered by his company when helping municipal and industrial clients in Iraq to go green.

Presentation of Mr. Willy Gils (WATERLEAU)
Presentation of Mr. Selim Haddad (Byblos Bank Europe)
Presentation of Mr. Amer Farhan Al-Mohammedi (Anbar Province Investment Commission)

Wrapping up the seminar, Deputy Prime Minister H.E Dr. Rowsch Nuri Shaways expressed the wish that a mutually beneficial partnership would develop between business communities from both sides in a wide range of sectors. A representative of H.E. Mr. Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and European Affairs of Belgium, who had to be excused, expressed the Belgian Minster’s wish to witness the creation of a concrete agenda and mutually beneficial cooperation in the framework of the MoU on Bilateral Political Consultations.

The seminar was followed by a reception allowing attendees to continue networking activities over a drink and a bite to eat. Moreover, companies were given the opportunity to engage in bilateral meetings.

More information: A detailed overview of benefits, guarantees and exemptions available under the Iraqi investment laws can be found in the 2013 Investor Guide to Iraq, available through

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