UK announces £1 billion in support for British firms investing in Iraq

Water treatment, electricity production projects
President Barham Salih received the British Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox, and his accompanying delegation, at the Presidential Office in Baghdad (Photo Credit: Twitter/@IraqiPresidency)

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SULAIMANI — Britain's Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox has announced that his department will make an £1 billion in support available to British firms operating in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.

Following a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi, Fox announced on Tuesday (April 16) that UK Export Finance (UKEF) will provide £1 billion ($1.3 billion) in loans and other support to British firms in order to facilitate investments and build infrastructure in Iraq.

Fox is wrapping up a three-day visit to Iraq, where he also met with President Barham Salih to discuss the countries’ bilateral trade relationship.

The additional support brings the UK's total support for Iraq to £2 billion and is aimed at providing jobs and promoting stability in the region, the British government said in a statement.

“The measure is designed to promote Iraq’s economic development and nation-building, ensuring that UKEF can continue to help the Government of Iraq deliver critical infrastructure,” the statement read.

Fox’s visit comes after the Iraq Britain Business Council‘s Spring Conference in London on April 10, which brought together business leaders and public officials from the UK and Iraq to discuss how to develop Iraq’s economy and improve financing for projects there.

The UKEF was represented at the conference and reportedly has been encouraging other export credit agencies to invest in Iraq, according to a consultancy firm that tweeted during the event.

In terms of the practical outcomes of the new funding, the statement highlighted several projects that would benefit. At the top of the list appeared to be investments in critical infrastructure in southern Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.

The Department of International Trade (DIT) will provide a £26 million ($35 million) loan for the scoping phase of a water and wastewater treatment project in the Kurdistan Region built by UK company Biwater.

DIT will also provide £770 million ($1.02 billion) to support the construction of two new-gas fired power stations in the Basra region by Enka UK and General Electric and enable UK-based GE Grid Solutions to build and refurbish fourteen power sub-stations throughout the country.

An additional £26 million would support a Siemens UK contract to refurbish the 320-megawatt Al Mussaib power station in southern Iraq and facilitate a loan to support a £169 million contract for a UK subsidiary of GE to refurbish other gas-fired power stations, according to the statement.

“The atmosphere in Baghdad is one of optimism – it is a country which is having an increasingly stable period at a time of significant unrest in the wider region,” Fox said.

“Iraq’s future is bright, and my international economic department will continue to work tirelessly to ensure it maintains this stability, allowing the hard work of its talented citizens to flourish for the benefit of all,” he added.

(NRT Digital Media)