Population growth, bilateral trade on agenda

British ambassador conducts wide ranging interview on Iraq

Baghdad, Iraq— In an interview with Jareda platform published Thursday, British Ambassador Stephen Hitchens discussed the dangers of Iraq being embroiled in regional conflicts, the growing trade relationship between Iraq and the UK, Iraq’s burgeoning population, and the critical need for economic reforms aimed at diminishing reliance on oil revenues and bolstering the private sector.

In the course of the interview, Ambassador Hitchens tackled three pivotal questions that illuminate the UK’s stance on the rising regional tensions, the flourishing trade ties between Iraq and the UK, and the pressing demographic challenges Iraq faces.

Ambassador Hitchens underscored the intricate and unpredictable nature of the escalating tensions in the region, recognizing Iraq’s susceptibility to regional turmoil. Nonetheless, he acknowledged the enhancement in the overall security scenario for many Iraqis, while warning that the presence of armed factions outside government purview poses a risk of dragging Iraq into wider regional conflicts. He emphasized the importance of a robust and effective state reaction to regional events as vital in safeguarding Iraq from foreign disturbances.

Hitchens disclosed that the trade volume between Iraq and the UK reached a milestone of £1 billion last year, marking the first time since 2014 and reflecting a 54% increase from 2022. This upward trajectory over three years highlights the strengthening of trade relations, with efforts from both governments to facilitate business endeavors that enhance trade, boost investor confidence, and stabilize business operations in Iraq.

The Ambassador addressed Iraq’s population growth as a component of wider challenges, underscoring the pressing need for economic reforms and the capability to sustain livelihoods for its populace. Iraq’s dependence on oil exports leaves it exposed to the global transition towards renewable energy sources. Paired with demographic growth, the current economic framework is deemed unsustainable for the future. Economic diversification, including a robust private sector, is vital for accommodating Iraq’s demographic expansion.

He pressed the need for a political consensus on economic reforms to reduce oil dependency and invigorate the private sector. With projections of Iraq’s population reaching 70 million by 2040 and the potential for diminished oil revenues, addressing these concerns is deemed imperative.