On September 6, 2012 the Russian Chamber of Commerce (CCI) and Industry of Russia hosted a Russian-Iraqi Business Forum, an event organized following an efficient cooperation between the Ministry of Trade of Iraq and the Russian-Arab Business Council. The Forum offered new opportunities for both Russian and Iraqi entrepreneurs and was preceded by a very successful participation of Iraqi officials and businessmen delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Rosh Nuri al-Shawish to St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June, 2012.
Before the forum was officially opened, the Russian CCI Vice-President Alexander Rybakov held negotiations with Kazem Turki Jamil, Advisor to the Minister of Trade of Iraq, who served as the head of Iraqi delegation. The parties praised the efforts undertaken by the Russian-Arab Business Council and aimed at strengthening of the Russian-Iraqi economic ties as agreed on the necessity to boost the activities of the bilateral Russian-Iraqi Business Council.
The Iraqi delegation comprised a number of high level officials including Sadyk Hussain Sultan, Director General of the Iraqi General Organization for Exhibitions and Commercial Services, Azad Hussain Rashid, Deputy Director of the Department of Foreign Economic Relations of the Ministry of Trade of Iraq, Liama Khaled Hilal, Director of the Depratment of Trade and Export in the Ministry of Trade, Jaafar Rassoul Jaafar, President of the Federation of Trade Chambers of Iraq, high level representatives of the Ministries of Electric Energy, Transport, and Communications. The forum was organized with full support from the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq in Moscow.
Russian participants in the event included Vladimir Strashko, Vice-President of the Russian CCI, Oleg Kozlov, Deputy Director for MENA Countries in the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia, Ivan Volkov, Head of Asia and Africa Department in the Ministry of Energy of Russia, other officials and businessmen. The forums’ schedule included an official part, that provided participants with a helpful insight into the present-day condition of Russian-Iraqi economic relations, and presented some mutually interesting opportunities on Iraqi markets. The Iraqi delegation had a chance to witness presentations by the following Russian companies:
- ANK Bashneft
- NPP Burservice
- Start CBS Concern
- Military and Industrial Company
- Hydroproject Institute
- Penetron Russia
- BL Trade, etc.
The event also included discussion of the economic and investment potential of the Republic of Bashkortostan – a key Russian region with vast oil&gas potential, and immense opportunities for organizing supply of halal products abroad.
During his speech at the forum, Kazem Jamil, Advisor to the Minister of Trade of Iraq, pointed out that the Iraqi market has a lot of opportunities, however sees constant lack of qualified and experienced contractors, which impacts prospects of large scale infrastructure development projects in the country. Therefore Russian companies could seize various opportunities on Iraqi markets, backed by the long standing traditions of Russian-Iraqi friendship.
Jaafar Rassoul Jaafar, President of the Federation of Trade Chambers of Iraq noted that domestic issues and lack of stability in some sectors in the last decades are factors that could potentially scare Russian companies off potentially profitable projects, which impacts the process of rebuilding of his country’s economy. However Iraq looks forward to setting up strategic partnerships with Russian companies, opening domestic markets for Russian firms, goods, services, and the immense potential of the Russian industry. According to Mr. Jaafar, the development of bilateral cooperation would also contribute to the increasing of the volume of oil production in the country.
As the event’s main goal was to provide platform for direct b2b contacts, the Russian-Arab Business Council organized a number of fruitful meetings for Russian and Iraqi participants and invited them to a networking dinner in “Godunov”, a traditional Russian food restaurant in the heart of Moscow. The dinner programme offered the Iraqi guests a unique possibility to continue talks with Russian partners in an informal way, while also enjoying the traditional atmosphere of Russian hospitality, delicious food, and music.
Full support for the forum organization and establishment of bilateral contacts was provided by H.E. Faik Farik Abdelaziz An-Nerwi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Iraq in Moscow. H.E. Ambassador honored the Russian and Iraqi participants with a special reception held in the Embassy, that offered an additional chance for them to continue informal talks, and study the activities of the Embassy aimed at promotion of trade and economic cooperation.
Vladislav Lutsenko, Deputy Director of the Russian-Arab Business Council, invited Russian and Iraqi participants to take part in the 3rd International Exhibition “Arabia-EXPO”, due to take place in St. Petersburg in May 30-June 1, 2013 simultaneously with the Eleventh Joint Session of the Russian-Arab Business Council. This presentation was followed by negotiations during which the Arabia-EXPO company and the General Organization of Fairs and Commercial Services of Iraq agreed to exchange exhibition delegations in 2013. Within the framework of this agreement and Iraqi delegation will take place in the Arabia_EXPO exhibition, and a delegation of Russian businessmen will participate in the 40th International Fair in Baghdad in November, 2013. The parties unanimously agreed that forums and exhibitions are one of the key elements of development of bilateral cooperation, enhancing of trade capabilities, and promotion of investment exchange.
During the forum, the Iraqi side expressed its interest in continuing and developing the cooperation between Russia and Iraq and attracting Russian companies and firms to participate in various projects in Iraq. The forum was covered by representatives of media, including “Russia 24” and “Rusiya Al-Yaum” TV Channels, “Voice of Russia”, and “TPP Inform” agencies.