EghtesadOnline: Iranian First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri is expected to arrive in the Iraqi capital Baghdad today to join an Iranian business delegation led by Minister of Industries, Mining and Trade Mohammad Shariatmadari.
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, IRNA reported.
According to Shariatmadari, the visit is aimed at holding talks with Iraqi officials about Iran's cooperation with the neighboring country on a wide range of issues, mainly including reconstruction of the war-stricken areas in the country.
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, according to Financial Tribune.
Director General of Iraq's Planning Ministry, Qusay Adulfattah told an international donors' conference held in Kuwait last month that about $23 billion will be needed in the short term and more than $65 billion in the medium term.
The conference was aimed at discussing efforts to rebuild Iraq's economy and infrastructure, as it emerges from a devastating conflict with IS militants who had seized almost a third of the country.
Iraq declared victory over IS in December, having taken back all the territory captured by the militants in 2014 and 2015.
The seven provinces attacked by the militants suffered $46 billion in direct damage, including the destruction of 147,000 housing units, and the security forces suffered losses worth $14 billion.
Tens of billions more were lost indirectly through damage to the wider economy and years of lost growth, according to the Iraqi Planning Ministry.
Iraq has published a list of some 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, developing transport, agriculture and oil-related industries, including petrochemicals and refining.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was also present at the conference, said Iran's long history of business and construction activity in neighboring Iraq gives it an edge over other countries competing for stakes in projects to rebuild the war-ravaged neighboring country.
"Iranian firms, including road construction and technical-engineering services companies, were operating in Iraq at a time when few other countries were active in rebuilding the country. This indicates that we have a comparative advantage to be seriously involved in Iraq's reconstruction," the Iranian FM was quoted as saying.
He added that Iranian firms are geared up to undertake projects offered by Iraq's public and private sectors.
While in Baghdad, Shariatmadari also met with the Iraqi Minister of Construction and Housing Anne Nafi Aussi on Monday. During the meeting, he said addressing banking issues is important for boosting bilateral trade, ILNA reported.
The Iranian minister also had meetings with Jumaili and Iraqi Minister for Labor and Social Affairs Mohammed Shia al-Sudani.
The officials reviewed the latest developments regarding the two countries’ trade and cooperation opportunities.
Iran exported $5.57 billion worth of non-oil goods to Iraq during the 11 months to Feb. 19, the secretary-general of Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce told Financial Tribune recently.
Hamid Hosseini added that food, fruit and vegetable, and construction materials were the major commodities exported to Iraq from Iran during the period.