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December 20,2009

Taha & Partners Group attended the Iraq-Japan Economy Forum at Baghdad International Airport held on December 20, 2009. This was organized by the National Investment Commission.

A Japanese group consisting of 130 public and private sector members, the biggest of its kind since the 2003 Iraq War, met on December 20, 2009with Iraqi government officials at Baghdad International Airport.

The team included State Secretary for Foreign Affairs – Koichi Takemasa, Senior Vice Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry -Tadahiro Matsushita, and Fumiaki Watari – Chairman of Nippon Oil Corp, who also serves as vice chairman of the Japan Business Federation, which is Japan’s biggest business lobby. In addition to the prime minister, senior Iraqi officials met with the Japanese team in an airport waiting lounge under tight security.

The aimof this meeting was to deepen bilateral economic ties and promote the Japanese investment in the war-torn country.

According to Forum sources – Japan arrived to the conference hoping that the meeting would provide an opportunity for them to promote their entry into the Iraqi economy and also that Iraq would be aiming to lure more investment from Japan.

The second Japan-Iraq economic forum meeting comes as Japan is lagging behind the United States, European countries and China in the reconstruction of Iraq, which possesses with the world’s third-largest proven crude oil reserves.

”The Iraqi economy is rapidly developing and promoting the improvement of the investment environment,” Iraqi Prime Minister NouriAl-Maliki said at the outset of the meeting. ”We want Japan to use its experience of rehabilitation from the World War II.”


Opening remarks:

Masashi Nakano – Senior Vice Minister of the Economy, Trade and Industry

Nouri Al-Maliki – Prime Minister of Iraq

Tariq Al-Hashimi – Vice President of Iraq

Keynote speech

Fawzi Hariri – Minister of Industry and Minerals

Taha & Partners Group was also invited to give a speech on the Iraqi Property Market but due to last minute changes in the schedule the speech was cancelled.

Session 1: Public security and political situation in Iraq

Session 2: Iraq’s investment environment

Session 3: Needs assessment on Iraq’s reconstruction and development

Session 4: Kurdistan investment environment

Session 5: Oil and gas

Closing remarks: Gotaro Ogawa, Ambassador in Charge of Reconstruction Assistance to the Republic of Iraq

Since the establishment of the new administration in Iraq, this was the first forum to focus on the economy, business and investment in Iraq. It provided participants from both the government and private sectors of the two countries; an opportunity to directly exchange opinions.

Participants of both countries recalled the excellent business relationship they had once had and showed keen interest in revitalizing such relations while confirming the importance of sharing information on the economic policy and business environment of Iraq and the necessity of frequent exchanges of information between the public and private sectors of both sides. Thus ultimately both countries acknowledged the importance of this forum and expressed their willingness to continue the process.

What made this forum unique was a business matching session for companies in the two countries. In this respect the participants recognized the need to establish a relevant contact group. The Government of Iraq expressed their readiness to host the next meeting in the near future at a mutually agreed venue.

Success of the Forum

More companies than expectedparticipatedfrom both Japan and Iraq, suggesting that both sides have great interest in mutual business cooperation. The Iraqi side expressed its gratitude to Japan for participating at the forum showing interest and having helped it reconstruct the country over recent years and strongly requested bilateral economic exchanges, especially those involving Japanese companies, to be accelerated. At the matching session, many Japanese business executives individually exchanged opinions with their counterparts from Iraq as well as Iraqi government officials. Many participants appreciated the opportunity.

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