Back to Iraq

Unemployment at historic highs, declining oil prices, plummeting government budgets and low investment due to persistent political uncertainty-one or more of these barriers to progress exist in many MENA states, but add them all and combine the security concerns in the aftermath of war and that is the unique challenge for Iraq. For years, arms and oil have been the major trade activity, but with security improvements being implemented in tandem with political, legal and regulatory reforms, investors are once again beginning to view the Mesopotamian cradle of civilisation also as a cradle of investment.

Supporting Investment Policy and Governance Reforms in Iraq 2007-2008 reflects MENA-OECD discussions with the Iraqi government concerning economic and governance reforms over the past two years. It looks extensively at Iraq's new investment law, implemented in 2006, assessing the challenges posed by corruption in Iraq, especially in government procurement, and examines how these factors will affect Iraqi efforts to attract foreign investment.

Iraq's vast energy reserves have long been a source of bribery and corruption surrounding the production and distribution of gas and oil. The Iraqi government, with investment needs especially in housing and construction, heavy industry, brick manufacturing and cement, agriculture, and tourism, must take steps to stamp out rampant corruption to assuage the concerns of potential investors.

All of the political and regulatory reforms will be of no use however, should the conflicts that are still common across the country lead to further breakdowns of security. One way to combat violence is to raise the living standards of the people. It is also imperative to improve the image of Iraq abroad to dispel the notion that the country is perennially in turmoil. Implementing the rule of law, raising the level of governmental transparency, and reaching out to potential sources of foreign capital will all go a long way to achieving that end.

ISBN 978-92-64-07724-9

© OECD Observer, No. 275, November 2009

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