Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshayar Zebari has been praising IBBC for what he called: “its remarkable work.”
He was speaking at a meeting in the House of Lords where he was guest of honour. Mr Zebari told the All Party Political Group, Foreign Affairs that Britain lagged far behind countries such as China in terms of doing trade with Iraq, but he added IBBC was doing “remarkable work,” boosting trade ties between the UK and Iraq.
Mr Zebari went on: “ I want you to know we will always be there to help.”
Lord Lawson agreed with Mr Zebari that British business was slow at venturing into Iraq but he said: “It is not just Iraq. British business is slow to move into other parts of the Middle East or China.”
Baron Kirkwood of Kirkhope said the biggest hindrance to Iraq/Britain trade was the perception in Britain that Iraq was: “still a war zone”
He said it was important to try to persuade MPs, especially the new intake at the last general election, to take an interest in Iraq and to travel there.
IBBC Board Member Alistair Kett of PwC was asked a general question about why British business was staying away from Iraq.
He cited the British view about security in Iraq and perceptions that banking and financial systems in the Middle East generally lacked transparency.
Conservative MP for Stratford on Avon Nadeem Zahawi asked why doing business in the KRG region was so much easier? The Foreign Minister said this was because the legal framework was more conducive to foreign investment.
Foreign Minister Zebari responded that security was not perfect, especially in the age of the suicide bomber, but there had been huge improvements and he said no foreigner had been targeted in three years.
He added that a successful Arab summit in March had helped to change perceptions. He urged the British Foreign Office to change its travel advisory for Iraq and he said he would be speaking to Foreign Secretary William Hague about that issue.