Canada Opens New Trade Office in Northern Iraq

Minister Yelich leads first trade mission to Iraq in 25 years

February 13, 2014 - The Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular), demonstrated Canada’s strong commitment to supporting Iraq’s democratic development by supporting an unprecedented four-day visit to the cities of Basra, Baghdad and Erbil. While in Iraq, Minister Yelich also opened a Canadian Trade Representation Office in Erbil. This was Canada’s first trade mission to Iraq in 25 years.

“Canada is expanding its presence in Iraq to support Iraqis in their efforts to build a brighter future,” said Minister Yelich. “Canada wants to help Iraq rebuild its infrastructure, develop its natural resources and create wealth for its citizens. Only by creating economic opportunity for all will Iraq regain political and social stability.”

In Baghdad, Minister Yelich delivered remarks at the first Conference on Canada-Iraq Commercial Relations, and in Erbil she spoke to the first Conference on Canada-Kurdistan Commercial Relations. These conferences brought together business leaders from Canadian companies and local Iraqi business representatives wanting to conduct business in Canada or with Canadians. The trade mission, organized by the Canada-Arab Business Council, primarily comprised companies in the oil and gas and infrastructure sectors.

During this trade mission, Minister Yelich met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Vice-President Khodair al-Khozaei, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hoshyar Zebari, Basra Governor Majid Al-Nasrawi, and President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani. She confirmed Canada’s resolve to support Iraq’s efforts in reconstruction and combatting terrorism. She also reiterated Canada’s commitment to supporting the Iraqi people in their ongoing efforts to build democracy and pluralistic federalism, including the important elections on April 30.

Minister Yelich also thanked the authorities in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan for their generosity in hosting Syrian refugees and promised continued Canadian support. Canada’s assistance in response to the Syrian crisis encompasses $353.5 million in humanitarian assistance and $210.6 million in development assistance to refugee-hosting countries, including $8.8 million to Iraq.

In addition, the Minister met with Sami Al-Araji, Chair of the National Investment Commission, to discuss how to work together to break the perceptions on challenges in Iraq so businesses in Canada can better take advantage of the country’s booming economy. Through their leadership and leading-edge technologies, Canadian investors promote sustainable development and responsible business practices in countries around the world.

Reconstruction efforts in Iraq will continue to create significant business opportunities for Canadian companies, which have become increasingly involved in the infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, housing and power generation sectors.

As part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to expanding engagement with a key regional player, Canada reopened its diplomatic mission in Baghdad in April 2013. Canada’s new Trade Representation Office in Erbil is responsible for trade with all of Iraq and will serve as a gateway for expanding dialogue between Canada and Iraqi Kurdistan—an important part of Canada’s re-engagement with Iraq.

“A secure, stable and democratic Iraq is essential for regional peace and prosperity,” said Minister Yelich. “Canada is increasing its presence in Iraq at a critical period in the country’s transition to democracy.”

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Saro Khatchadourian
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular)
613-944-2300
Saro.Khatchadourian@international.gc.ca

Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
613-995-1874
media@international.gc.ca
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