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India, Iraq Explore Ways to Diversify Trade from Oil to Non-Oil Sectors

India and Iraq discussed ways to diversify trade while stressing the importance of expanding their economic partnership and technological engagement. The extensive talks were held during the second round of the India-Iraq Foreign Office consultations in Baghdad in February 2023.

The Indian delegation was led by Ausaf Sayeed, Secretary (CPV & OIA), while Iraq’s delegation was led by Hisham Al Alawi, Undersecretary for Political Planning Affairs from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iraq. Sayeed also called on Iraq’s Deputy PM and Minister of Oil, Hayyan Abdul Ghani; Iraq’s Minister of Trade, Atheer Dawood Salman; Iraq’s National Security Adviser, Qasem Al Araji; and Iraq’s President of the Sunni Awqaf Board, Mesh’an Al Khazraji. They discussed a range of bilateral, regional, and international issues of mutual interest, as stated by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

There were also detailed discussions about the further strengthening of bilateral relations and the acknowledgment of the already warm and friendly relations. The future direction of growth in bilateral relations was levied on political affairs, economic affairs, defence, security, trade, and investments while developing partnerships, a scholarship programme and capacity building, and cultural relations.

Both countries were also content with the figures for bilateral trade, which exceeded USD 34 billion for 2021–22, and discussed further means to diversify trade options. The discussions of exploring investment opportunities, particularly in the fields of oil and gas, infrastructure, healthcare, power, transport, agriculture, water management, drugs, pharmaceuticals, ICT, and renewable energy. The emphasis was also laid on businesses to mutually engage for long-term benefits.

Sayeed also interacted with the Indian community, Iraqi and Indian businesses, and leaders of the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, both of which have alumni from Iraq. He also inaugurated the newly-constructed Indian Consular Application Centre which will help Indian and Iraqi nationals seeking visas and consular services.

Both sides agreed on conducting regular visits and consultations while focusing on the importance of continuing the upward momentum in the relationship.

In the years prior, Iraq has exported products like crude petroleum ($22.1B), refined petroleum ($1.23B), and tropical fruits ($85.7M) to India, and in the last 26 years, their trade relations have increased at an annual rate of 70%, from $23.8K in 1995 to $23.5B in 2021. On the contrary, India exported products worth $2.03 billion to Iraq. Rice ($522 million), frozen bovine meat ($205 million), and refined petroleum ($511 million) were the products. The last 26 years have seen a rise in Indian exports at an annual rate of 36.3%, from $646k in 1995 to £2.03B in 2021.