Former Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qassemi said Iran’s share in the reconstruction of the neighboring Iraq is meager, and urged the country’s businessmen and private sector to play a more active role in the Muslim country’s market.
“Iraq’s big market which is in our neighborhood can be a lucrative for our private sector,” Qassemi, now an advisor of Iran’s First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, told FNA on Monday.
Qassemi, who is also the secretary of the Headquarters for the Economic Development of Iran-Iraq Relations, noted that Iraq is currently Iran’s second trade partner, and said, “The volume of trade transactions between the two countries was $11 billion in the last Iranian year (ended March 20, 2013)."
Last month, the former Iranian oil minister said that Iraq is a federal state and Iranian traders should grow more active in Iraq's provinces. “We recommend that holding exhibitions and introducing goods can be effective.”
“Iraq is among those countries that have both money and jobs; hence, we should try to increase our presence in the Iraqi market,” Qassemi said.
He pointed to the role that Iran can play in the reconstruction of Iraq, and said, “Iraq is planning to build 2mln houses for the poor people.”
“And Iran has taken up construction of 200,000 of these residential units,” he added.
Iran and Iraq have enjoyed growing ties ever since the overthrow of the former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, during the 2003 US invasion of the Muslim country.
Early December, Senior Iranian and Iraqi officials, in a joint news conference in Tehran, stressed the need for the further expansion of mutual cooperation in economic fields.
During the news conference, the Iranian first vice president and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki reiterated the necessity for increasing exchange of visits between the two countries’ businessmen and trade officials in a bid to further consolidate Iran-Iraq economic ties.
The Iranian first vice-president reiterated that enhancement of bilateral ties tops the agenda of both Tehran and Baghdad, and said “the agreements between Tehran and Baghdad have provided proper opportunities for Iranian businessmen to play a bigger role in the gas and housing industries and other sectors in Iraq”.
The Iraqi prime minister, pointed to his meeting with the Iranian first vice-president, and said, “We agreed to have extensive activities and we also agreed on establishing different ways for conducting (joint) economic activities.”