By Shaymaa Adel
Azzaman, January 19, 2015
Iraq is striving to expand ties with neighboring states, particularly Turkey and Iran to help it fight Islamic State militants and alleviate impact of falling oil prices through trade deals.
Iraq’s trade exchange with the two states is valued at $28 billion a year and is destined to surge with new agreements to facilitate the flow of goods and commodities.
Iraq’s trade exchange with Turkey last year reached $16 billion and $12 billion with Iran. Turkey, whose relations with Iraq soured during the term of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, is warming up to Baghdad once again under the new administration of Premier Haider Abadi.
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yiliz is visiting Iraq at the head of a large delegation representing major Turkish economic sectors among them major firms and corporations.
There are currently more than 1600 Turkish firms working on contracts in Iraq whose value is estimated at $20 billion.
Iran which has wider political influences and ties with Iraq still lacks behind Turkey in terms of trade exchange.
However, a current visit by Iraqi Interior Minister Mohammed al-Ghalban to Teheran is reported to have opened new opportunities to increase trade exchange and presence by Iranian firms in the country.
Ghalban’s trip to Tehran is mainly of a security nature. In a statement to the Iranian media he said he would be seeking Iran’s police forces’ help in reinstating security in restive areas and their taking part along their Iraqi counterparts in policing major religious festivities which normally draw millions of pilgrims to the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala.