A Turkish flag is seen at the Baghdad International Fair. A total of 35 Turkish firms have attended the event. AA photo
Iraq opened its biggest trade fair in more than 20 years Nov. 1, the latest step in Baghdad’s efforts to rebuild an economy battered by decades of conflict and sanctions and combat unemployment. However, not many Turkish firms attended the event.
More than 1,500 companies from Iraq and 21 other countries are taking part in the Baghdad International Fair, which was opened by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and is due to run until Nov. 10. The fair’s overall attendance was the highest in more than 20 years, Agence France-Presse reported the deputy chief of the fair’s organizing committee Bassem Saddam Sultan said.
“Iraq tops its region in terms of investment opportunities, because everything in Iraq needs to be reconstructed. We are in the process of rebuilding the entire infrastructure,” Maliki said in his opening speech. He said laws regarding investments were designed to protect and grease the wheels for domestic and foreign capital despite volatile conditions there. Despite improved conditions compared to the worst of Iraq’s bloodshed, seen in 2006 and 2007, the fair opened under heavy security in a city that still regularly sees violent attacks. Journalists underwent multiple searches before being allowed entrance, AFP reported.
Turkey’s principal trade consultant in Baghdad Harun Koçak said 35 leading Turkish companies participated in the event. “There is nothing for the Turkish companies to worry about. Turkey’s commercial ties with Iraq are quite good,” he said.
Turkey’s exports to Iraq hit $8 billion as of August this year, posting a 30 percent year-on-year increase, he said.