The two countries want to resolve the issue of delay in payments to exporters

India and Iraq are exploring the possibility of making payments in domestic currencies through an understanding between the Central Banks of the two countries to resolve the issue of delay in payments to exporters.

Iraq is also working on making the tendering process for sourcing equipment amenable for Indian companies, which at present are left out because goods of Indian origin are not allowed to participate in tenders floated by Iraqi companies.

These assurances were given by the visiting Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri Kamil Al-Maliki and Indian and Iraqi business leaders at a gathering organised jointly by FICCI, CII and Assocham.

Addressing the business leaders, Mr. Al-Maliki said that his visit was aimed at speeding up the process of integrating the capacities and expertise of the two countries to take trade and investment cooperation to the next level. He invited Indian businesses to engage with their counterparts in Iraq in oil exploration, setting up of refineries, petrochemicals, agriculture education and health sectors.

``We rely heavily on India for the reconstruction and development of Iraq which has been devastated by war and adventure. We are setting up democratic institutions which had been destroyed by dictatorship. Iraq had passed a number of legislations on investment promotion and management of the business sector,’’ he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma said India is exploring the possibility of bilateral trade with Iraq in domestic currencies. He said the issue of payment for trade in local currencies will be discussed during the bilateral meetings between Mr. Al-Maliki and Indian Ministers. India-Iraq bilateral trade currently stands at around $21 billion.

Mr. Sharma hoped that the visit of the Iraqi Prime Minister will open pathways for greater cooperation in the oil sector. He offered India’s strength and technological capabilities to build Infrastructure projects in Iraq.

FICCI president, Naina Lal Kidwai said that India was looking at Iraq as a long term partner in trade and investment cooperation. Such cooperation would not be limited to the oil sector but embrace a gamut of sectors including infrastructure, pharma, health and education. ``The need of the hour was to create platforms for the two governments to make the environment conducive for businesses of both countries,’’ she added.

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