Private Sector Opportunities Abound in Iraq
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Having just returned from leading the Chamber’s first business delegation to Baghdad and Basrah, I am cautiously optimistic for the future of Iraq’s economic development and stabilization. What I saw and experienced there was not what I had anticipated. While the Iraqi government and private sector have much work to do to bring its legal, regulatory, and investment climate into the 21st century, I don’t doubt their capability. However, I am less optimistic about the role our private sector will play in this process.
In the majority of our meetings the consistent message from the Iraqi public and private sectors was that American companies are missing in action. After nearly a decade of investment in terms of U.S. lives and treasure, Iraqis want to see American suits, not boots, on the ground. And as the U.S. engagement in Iraq transitions from a military-focused effort to a more normalized diplomatic mission, it must be the private sector that fills the void, and to bring sharper commercial focus to the mission of Iraq’s development and reconstruction. There are incredible opportunities in virtually every sector, from electricity and housing to transportation, telecommunications, and healthcare. These commercial opportunities translate into jobs in both Iraq and the United States, benefitting both countries.
The Iraqis are very honest that there is much work to do as they grow their economy and rebuild their infrastructure. And while they ask for our patience in this process they urge us to get involved now.
Learn more about the U.S.-Iraq Business Initiative.