Politics & Economics

Iraqi Prime Minister Visits China to Encourage Economic Cooperation

Iraq

The Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi is traveling with a delegation to China to discuss bilateral ties with a focus on economic relations.

Iraqi Prime Minister, Adil Abd al-Mahdi, is scheduled to travel to China on Thursday with a delegation composed of over 50 people including Ministers, Provincial Governors, advisors and businessmen. According to several sources, the trip will last until next Tuesday (24th September), and will largely focus on economic cooperation and development with an “oil for infrastructure” deal being the main proposed arrangement. Funding connected to the Iraqi-Chinese Reconstruction Fund will also be discussed.

While Iraq has had a relatively friendly relationship with China, this visit will be an opportunity for Iraq to strengthen its cooperation and bilateral relations with Beijing.

A Chinese delegation had visited Iraq in April to assess the situation in the country and discuss ways that China can be involved in the reconstruction process following the defeat of ISIS.

Although the meetings are focused mainly on economic issues, there is also a geopolitical element to negotiations between the countries. China has been investing in its Belt and Road Initiative, especially in countries closer to China, for example Pakistan. China is now looking to expand its economic influence beyond and Iraq provides an opportunity for such an expansion. The country is also set to be the largest importer of oil in the world, of which Iraq is one of the most major suppliers.

As for Iraq, it is looking to diversify its international partners especially in the context of neighbouring Syria, still in the midst of a civil war, and an Iran heavily blighted by international sanctions. The level of current trade between Iraq and China is said to be around 30 billion dollars on an annual basis.

Contracts have already been signed between the two states over the past year, including a contract between Iraq and the Chinese company Zhenhua Oil to develop the southern section of the Eastern Baghdad oilfield.