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Iraq eyes construction deals with China in return for oil sales

Iraqis start reconstruction of their buildings after Mosul completely freed from Daesh in Mosul on 10 July, 2017 [Yunus Keleş/ Anadolu Agency]
Iraqis start the reconstruction of their buildings after Mosul was freed from Daesh on 10 July 2017 [Yunus Keleş/ Anadolu Agency]

raqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi will head to China at the end of March in an effort to encourage Beijing to invest in construction projects in war ravaged Iraq in return for oil sales.

Abdul-Mahdi will head a ministerial and advisory delegation, the largest of its kind since he took office last year, sources have said, and will focus on economic issues.

In a statement to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, a senior official in the Secretariat General of the Council of Ministers, said: “The visit will be a declaration to launch a new phase of economic, trade and investment relations with China.”

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, predicted “the conclusion of eight huge agreements concerning projects in housing and infrastructure, especially in the destroyed cities, and renovation of Iraq’s factories which stopped working in 2003, as well as the scheduling of debts owed by Iraq to China.” The debts amount to more than $1 billion, the source added.

READ: Iraq investigates tripling costs at state-run oil company

“If the visit is successful and the agreements are officially approved,” the source explained, “it will be the most important international partnership agreement signed by Iraq for many years, especially with regard to the entry of Chinese companies to Iraq, which will ensure its security and facilitate its work.”

In May, China’s Ambassador to Baghdad, Zhang Tao, said the trade exchange between the two countries amounted to $30 billion in 2018, and has been increasing by ten per cent annually.

Large parts of Iraq have been completely destroyed as a result of years of war. In 2003 the US expanded its “war on terror” to include Iraq in an effort to force regime change and bring and end to Saddam Hussein’s decades of rule.

READ: Qatar ready to contribute to reconstruction of Iraq

Toppling the dictator left the country with no leadership and allowed insurgents and terror groups to take hold of large swathes of the country. In December 2017, after a four year battle, Iraq declared victory over Daesh after Iraqi forces recaptured the last areas still under the terrorist group’s control along the border with Syria.

However sleeper cells remain operational and Daesh affiliates have continued to carry out attacks across the country, with security officials in the US warning that the group my regroup and gain control of parts of the country once again.

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