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Iraq: Reconstruction

Volume 465: debated on Thursday 25 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what initiatives are being pursued by (a) his Department and (b) the British embassy in Baghdad to encourage investment by British companies and British nationals in reconstruction and other economic activity in Iraq; (157100)

(2) what categories of assistance are available from the British embassy in Baghdad to encourage and promote direct investment in Iraq by British companies and British nationals; what such investments have been made over the last 12 months; and what assistance was provided by the British embassy in each case;

(3) what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) investment and (b) contractual work in Iraq involving British companies over the period since formal hostilities were declared to be over.

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials in the UK, Iraq and Jordan, advise British companies on trade and investment opportunities in Iraq, as well as general economic, political and security developments. Details of Iraqi government tenders and other contracts are published on the UKTI website and FCO officials in Iraq lobby on behalf of British companies pursuing specific contracts, when required. UKTI officials in the UK support inward visit programmes, seminars and other events with a commercial focus: enabling British companies to engage directly with Iraqi Ministers and officials responsible for Government contracts.

UKTI officials in our embassy in Amman carry out a significant amount of Iraq-based work through contacts with leading Iraqi companies and business people based in Jordan. The UKTI team in Amman also maintains close contact with the World Bank and other international financial institutions working in Iraq that are based in Jordan, and has supported an annual British company presence at the Rebuild Iraq trade exhibition. UKTI officials based in both Amman and Baghdad have participated in two British trade missions to the Kurdistan region over the past year, with the support of FCO staff in the region.

Over recent years, UKTI and FCO officials have supported a large number of British companies interested in trade and investment opportunities in Iraq. However, records covering private investment by British companies in Iraq are not kept and it is, therefore, not possible either to summarise the private investments made over the past 12 months, or estimate the proportion of direct investment or contractual work involving British companies since formal hostilities were declared to be over.