First Iraq National Trade Forum Connects Small Businesses to Growth Opportunities
Baghdad — As the country works to recover from an economic crisis, Iraq’s agriculture and agri-food sectors have the potential to contribute to much-needed economic growth and diversification, job creation and enhanced sustainability and resilience – under the right conditions. This was the message from public and private-sector leaders at the opening of the first Iraq National Trade Forum on 28 November 2022.
Held in Baghdad, the two-day forum provided an opportunity for Iraqi small and medium-sized businesses in farming and food processing, packaging and logistics to connect with international suppliers and investors.
Jointly organized by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Iraq, the Forum hosted over 400 participants from almost all Iraqi governorates, including business leaders, international suppliers, investors, banks, policymakers, business support organizations, representatives from local and national authorities, as well as international development partners.
Through financial support of the European Union and the Government of Germany through KfW, the Iraq National Trade Forum brought together over 100 small businesses to network, forge business deals and offer investment opportunities, including one-on-one meetings with international suppliers of agricultural inputs and equipment. It also featured an exhibition, “Made in Iraq”, where firms representing all Iraqi governorates could display their products.
‘It is key to build the capacities of Iraqi farmers and involve them in the entire agriculture value chain so they can benefit. Many producers suffer because their agriculture products are not in line with buyer requirements. We believe meaningful partnerships drive the success for sector development.’
H.E. Abbas Al Alayawi, Minister of Agriculture, Iraq
‘This event showed the best part of a vibrant Iraqi private sector that is ready to contribute to the economic growth and diversification of Iraq. And trade is a core element of this growth. The EU will continue to support the Iraqi government in its path towards the needed economic reforms that will help the private sector to expand and create jobs also in the new green economy.’
Agne Gleveckaite, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation - Head of Political Section
‘As the UN in Iraq, we have an ever-present responsibility to leave no one behind. We urge companies here today to think creatively: what role are you playing in promoting inclusive economic growth? In the UN’s effort to support the Government of Iraq, we ask similar questions: how to ensure the most vulnerable are not left behind, and those most at risk are protected? The UN is here to support such initiatives.’
Ghulam Mohammad Isaczai, United Nations Deputy Special Representative, Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq
‘Iraq's record oil-driven growth must be accompanied by smart investments, business opportunities, and further advocacy for essential economic reforms, which is what this forum is all about.’
Eric Buchot, Representative, Head of country programme, International Trade Centre
‘Inadequate livelihood opportunities are among the greatest barriers to the sustainable return and reintegration of displaced persons in Iraq; and in the country’s south, where climate change is increasingly felt in agricultural communities, limited livelihoods are an active cause of rural-urban displacement. Through its Enterprise Development Fund and events such as this one, IOM is pleased to work in collaboration with national and international partners to support agribusinesses and tap into the agricultural sector’s potential to strengthen food security, sustainable income generation and durable solutions to displacement.’
Giorgi Gigauri, Chief of Mission for IOM in Iraq
About the International Trade Centre’s SAAVI project
The ‘Strengthening the Agriculture and Agri-Food Value Chain and Improving Trade Policy’ (SAAVI) project, funded by the European Union, focuses on the development and implementation of sector strategies for high-potential products, as well as on defining market-oriented policies to improve predictability and efficiency in the business environment. SAAVI also helps enhance Iraq’s trade policy and supports the country in its WTO accession process.
SAAVI is implemented under the leadership of the Government of Iraq through the Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Trade.
The project forms part of the overall European Union Special measure for supporting employment creation and improving economic governance in Iraq. As such, SAAVI is fully aligned with the activities of FAO, IOM, ILO, UNESCO and GIZ in the domain of private sector engagement and agricultural development.
About the International Organization for Migration’ EDF Programme
IOM’s Enterprise Development Fund (EDF) is an innovative programme that supports livelihoods at the community level through private sector revitalization and economic development by targeting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Iraq.
The EDF provides financial capital to SMEs in primary, secondary, and tertiary economic sectors with a high demand for labour, with the objective of post-conflict economic recovery and inclusive economic development. Concurrently, targeting key sectors and businesses with the greatest potential to create jobs, the EDF encourages rapid and large-scale job creation. Piloted in 2018, the EDF has evolved and expanded over the years to cater for different socio-economic contexts both within Iraq and globally and has supported more than 1,300 SMEs and created more than 6,400 jobs in Iraq alone.
For more information, please contact IOM Iraq’s Public Information Unit, firstname.lastname@example.org
International Trade Centre’s Public Information Officer, Waqas Rafique, email@example.com
Delegation of the European Union to Iraq’s Press and Information Officer, Al-Sadiq Al-Adilee, firstname.lastname@example.org