Officials shift focus for new investment

Iraq considers China’s Belt and Road Initiative

BAGHDAD, January 30 — Iraq is contemplating entry into China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. This move comes as Iraqi officials increasingly seek international investments to fuel development projects nationwide.

A key meeting took place on Tuesday, led by Salman Al-Bahadli, head of the Technical Department at the Ministry of Transport. Participants included representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office, Cabinet, and various ministries including Finance, Trade, Foreign Affairs, and Planning. Additionally, members from the Central Bank and the departments of ports, maritime, and railways were present.

A post-meeting statement revealed the gathering’s focus: “The 70th Diwan Order Committee of 2018, under Mr. Salman Al-Bahadli’s chairmanship, explored Iraq’s engagement with the Belt and Road Initiative and its potential membership in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.”

The statement further highlighted an urgency in procedures, as directed by Transport Minister Razzaq Mohieb Al-Saadi, aiming to “formulate recommendations benefiting the nation and supporting the financing of ministry projects.”

The Belt and Road Initiative is a global development strategy that involves infrastructure development and investments in nearly 70 countries and international organizations. It’s seen as a way for China to expand its economic and political influence by connecting Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks. This initiative has been met with both interest and skepticism globally, with participating countries anticipating economic growth but also wary of potential debt dependency on China.