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Iraqi PM ends China visit with flurry of agreement signings

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region —  Iraq’s Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi concluded his five-day trip to China with the signing of eight broad-ranging agreements on Monday in a bid to diversify ties between the two countries.

Abdul-Mahdi was heading a delegation consisting of, among others, Iraqi ministers and provincial governors.

On the fifth day of the visit, the Iraqi PM met with the Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Premiere of the State Council Li Keqiang.  In the meeting, the two sides signed agreements in a variety of fields, including finance, trade, security, construction, communications, culture, education, and foreign affairs, according to a readout from the Iraqi PM’s office.

Signed financial agreements included one between Iraq’s Ministry of Finance and Sinosure – the China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation – another on economic and technical cooperation, and an agreement between the Iraqi Ministry of Finance and the Chinese Trade Ministry concerning “cooperation for reconstruction following the [ISIS] war in Iraq].”

The Iraqi delegation’s visit to China aimed to form a “framework relations for strategic partnership for Iraq to rise and rebuild its infrastructure, economy and society.”

As part of the visit, the PM toured the car manufacturing company JAC, a solar panel manufacturing company, the Shanghai Electric Company, and other sites.

“We belong to Asia, and we want to be part of its rise,” Iraq’s Prime Minister said in Shanghai on Saturday.

Trade volume between Iraq and China surpassed $30 billion in 2017. Iraq-China trade relations currently rely on the export of Iraqi oil and Chinese manufactured goods.

However, in a bid to diversify their economic ties, one of the agreements signed involve the building of a joint Iraqi-Chinese manufacturing city in Iraq to produce goods meeting “world standards,” according to Iraqi Minister of Industry and Minerals Saleh Abdullah al-Jabouri. The agreement is the sixth of its kind.

Jabouri added that his industry ministry presented 200 “projects and investment opportunities” to Chinese companies during the Iraq-Chinese Economic Cooperation Forum.

According to a Ministry of Finance and Economy readout, Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity signed an agreement with the Chinese Heavy Equipment Engineering Company, who are already involved in construction projects in Iraq, most notably that of the Saladin Electric Station.

In a development of cultural ties between the two countries, a Chinese library is set to be established in Iraq’s Baghdad University, and a cultural cooperation memorandum of understanding was also signed.

Source: Rudaw, September 23, 2019

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