Iraq's National Investment Commission, led by Chairman Dr. Sami Al-Araji, has just concluded an extremely successful business conference at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Washington D.C. In addition to Dr. al-Araji, Iraq was represented by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, the Ministers of Oil, Trade, Finance, and Agriculture, Governors of Iraq's provinces, and a contingent of prominent business leaders. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton represented the interests of the U.S. Government.
Approximately 1,100 investors attended the sold-out conference from across the U.S. and around the world. The conference consisted of a series of presentations highlighting the readiness of Iraq for international investment, several breakout sessions that delved more deeply into 12 main sectors of Iraq's economy, and a series of afternoon matchmaking sessions that were structured for direct business to business meetings between Iraqi and American businesses.
The National Investment Commission presented the conference attendees with a list of over 750 projects ready for investment, across all sectors of the economy. In his speech, Chairman Al-Araji highlighted several recent positive steps that Iraq has taken to improve its investment climate, including passing an amendment to its current Investment Law allowing foreign investors pursuing housing-related infrastructure projects to own land. He also highlighted the NIC's investor licensing and coordination department, known as the One Stop Shop. Dr. Al-Araji remarked:
"Why invest in Iraq? There has never been a better time to invest in Iraq. Iraq has emerged from the conflicts of the past with tremendous potential for investment from local, regional and global companies."
Secretary Clinton was equally forceful in encouraging investors to seize the opportunity in Iraq with all possible speed, as she remarked,
"The security situation has improved. The conditions for investment are stronger. And in the words of an Arab proverb, 'Dawn does not come twice to awaken a man' or a woman. The world is watching for every opportunity to invest in Iraq, and companies that wait too long may discover they are too late."