Iraq, Pakistan agree to boost economic, trade and investment ties

Iraq and Pakistan have agreed to strive for strengthening and expanding the bilateral economic, trade and investment ties in the traditional and non-traditional sectors, and also through “Pakistan-Iraq Business Council” to further augment trade ties between the two countries.

This was announced in a joint statement, issued simultaneously here in Islamabad and Baghdad at the conclusion of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s visit to Iraq from June 05-07, 2023.

It stated that the foreign minister was received and accorded a warm welcome by the Iraqi deputy prime minister and foreign minister at the latter’s office in Baghdad.

“Reaffirming their cordial relations in their delegation talks, both leaders noted the strong and enduring bonds between the two fraternal countries marked by warmth, cordiality and mutual respect and reiterated their shared desire to continue to maintain regular high-level contacts, deepen friendly exchanges of visits, and expand cooperation in all fields,” it stated.

In addition to talks with his host counterpart, during the visit, the foreign minister held wide-ranging interactions with Iraqi leadership including with president, prime minister, speaker of the Parliament, interior minister, governor of Karbala, head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, president Al-Hikmet Party and Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Bashir Al-Najafi during the visit.

In these high-level interactions of the foreign minister, the two sides agreed to expand bilateral cooperation in diverse areas including agriculture, water management, inclusion of Pakistan in the Iraqi Development Corridor, establishing sister port cities relations between Basra and Karachi, defence production, health, textile, pharmaceutical and supporting Iraq’s efforts in their reconstruction and rehabilitation.

Both sides noted the vital importance of the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) meeting, and agreed to hold its next session in the second half of 2023. It was also agreed to hold inaugural session of Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC), at the senior officials’ level in 2023.

“Pakistan and Iraq would continue to promote Parliamentary diplomacy through the exchange of visits and regular contacts between the members of their respective bilateral Parliamentary Friendship Groups,” the joint statement further read.

It added that both countries would strive to strengthen and expand the bilateral economic, trade and investment ties in the traditional and non-traditional sectors, including by exploiting the existing complementarities and opportunities.

Recognising the huge tourism potential in both countries, the two sides discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation in the field of tourism, as well as continue to encourage tourism and hospitality investment in both countries.

In a landmark development, the host Iraqi authorities conveyed their full support for the establishment of a Pakistani Consulate in Najaf which fulfils a longstanding demand of Pakistanis who wanted complete consular services extended to them in the holy city of Imam Ali (AS).

The foreign minister announced opening up of a pilgrimage centre in the sacred land of Karbala which would fulfil another longstanding demand of Pakistanis visiting during Ashura, Muharram, and Arba’een.

The two signed an MoU on visa abolition for the holders of diplomatic and official passports between the two countries which will facilitate high-level exchanges and closer cooperation and engagements between the two governments.

The foreign minister underscored the vital importance of a flexible visa regime for the Zaireen and the businessmen. The Iraqi side assured of their full support and extending flexible visa regime. The MoU in this regard is scheduled to be signed during the forthcoming visit of Iraqi Interior Minister to Pakistan, the joint statement added.

The two sides stressed the need for cooperation between the concerned authorities and strengthening of measures against illegal cross-border movement and the fight against the smuggling of drugs and illegal substances.

Both leaders warmly welcomed the signing of the MoU on cultural cooperation which would positively engage the two countries in the realm of cultural exchanges and cooperation.

Both sides also oversaw and welcomed the signing of an MoU of cooperation between the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) of Pakistan and Iraq Chamber of Commerce which is aimed to enhance economic cooperation between the two countries and would prove to be a stepping stone towards building a robust economic partnership.

First edition of Pakistan-Iraq Business Forum was organised in Baghdad on 5 June 2023 during the visit which was very well attended and afforded a good opportunity of engagement for the businessmen and investors from both sides.

Both sides also witnessed the announcement of creation of Pak-Iraq Business Council which would provide a structured platform for the businessmen and investors from both countries to develop proper business-to-business linkages and networking for enhancement of bilateral trade ties.

Both foreign ministers witnessed the momentous and historic ceremony organized for laying the foundation stone of Pakistan Embassy Complex in Baghdad on the 6th June 2023.

Foreign Minister Bilawal also congratulated Iraqi leadership for their instrumental role as a peace broker between Iran and Saudi Arabia while emphasizing the need to building bridges and resolving issues amicably to engender economic dividends for the whole region and beyond.

“Both sides noted the immense sacrifices of both countries in their counterterrorism efforts. These gains need to be consolidated and channelled for the economic uplift of the respective countries and its people,” it stated.

It added that Pakistan’s defence production and defence training institutes were particularly noted due to their quality standards and price competitiveness for cementing and building upon the existing level of cooperation.

Foreign Minister Bilawal also extended invitation to the Iraqi president, the prime minister and other leadership including deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Iraq to visit Pakistan who graciously accepted the invitation. The dates convenient for the same would be determined through diplomatic channels, it added.

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