EghtesadOnline: Iran is ready to allocate a credit line amounting to $3 billion to Iraq for rebuilding the war-ravaged areas of the neighboring country, Iran's first vice president has announced.
In a meeting with Iraqi officials on Wednesday, Es'haq Jahangiri was also quoted as saying by IBENA that the credit line will be given so that "Iranian companies and its private sector can have a more serious cooperation in rebuilding Iraq."
Jahangiri arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday to join an Iranian business delegation led by Minister of Industries, Mining and Trade Mohammad Shariatmadari.
In early February, the chief executive of Export Development Bank of Iran had announced that his bank will soon open a credit line worth $18 million with an Iraqi bank with the aim of expanding Iran's exports to the Arab country, Financial Tribune reported.
"If other Iraqi banks meet the capital adequacy ratio, we are ready to allocate more lines of credit to that country," Ali Salehabadi had said at the time.
Jahangiri also referred to banking issues as the most important hurdle facing economic relations between the two nations and said "banking ties are still at a starting point so we need to follow up on resolving these problems through suitable measures".
On Thursday, Jahangiri met with Iraqi President Fuad Masum and called for increasing economic relations between Iran and Iraq in oil, gas and power sectors, in addition to boosting cultural ties and supporting millions of pilgrims.
"We must make efforts so that the level of [bilateral] economic trade exceeds $7 billion," he said.
The vice president again called for removing banking problems and eliminating bureaucratic barriers, welcoming the two countries' political will to expand the involvement of private sector, which he said is at the highest level.
Masum welcomed Iran's potential investments in economic projects and called for a more pronounced role for Iran's private sector.
He referred to cooperation with allies and neighboring countries as a priority for Baghdad and said "as ties between the two countries are built on mutual interests, we assure that Iraq will participate in no measures against its neighbors".
Referring to negotiations conducted on banking, water and climate issues, the Iraqi president said his country is looking to employ Iran's experiences to resolve its problems.
Invited by the Iraqi Minister of Planning Salman Al-Jumaili, Shariatmadari arrived in Baghdad earlier on Monday and was welcomed by Iraq's Deputy Commerce Minister Walid Habib al-Mousavi.
The main goal of the visit was to hold talks with Iraqi officials about Iran's cooperation in a wide range of issues, mainly on the reconstruction of Iraq's war-stricken areas.
Iraqi officials say rebuilding the country after three years of war with the self-styled Islamic State terrorists will cost more than $88 billion, with housing a particularly urgent priority.
Iraq has published a list of 157 projects, for which it is seeking investment. They include rebuilding destroyed facilities such as Mosul's airport and new investments to diversify the economy away from crude oil sales and develop transport, agriculture and oil-related industries, including petrochemicals and refining.
On Wednesday, Jahangiri said Iran and Iraq need to draft a "comprehensive document for economic cooperation" and referred to free trade as a good platform to boost bilateral economic relations.
"Some private Iranian companies have yet to receive what they owe and it is necessary for this to be resolved so that these companies can play a bigger role in rebuilding Iraq," he said.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told Iranian officials present at the talks that "Iraq is ready to do what is necessary to resolve issues concerning banking relations and facilitate banking transactions".
Abadi pointed to longstanding historical and religious ties between Iran and Iraq, and emphasized that the officials gathered here are responsible for strengthening economic, political and cultural ties, as no one will be able to undermine Iran-Iraq ties.