The Ambassador of Iraq to South Africa, Dr. Hisham Al-Alawi visited the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber (NMBBC) yesterday as part of a tour of the Eastern Cape.
The chmaber said Al-Alawi’s visit forms part a series of engagements in South Africa on a national and provincial level to strengthen the relationship between Iraq and South Africa and explore investment and development opportunities.
“It was a privilege to host the ambassador and his colleagues,” said Business Chamber CEO, Kevin Hustler, “to hear first-hand the positive progress within the nation of the Iraq, and to gain deeper insight into the tremendous opportunities that are waiting to be unlocked at an academic, cultural and business level to the mutual benefit of both nations.”
The meeting at the Chamber with Hustler and NMBBC president Mandla Madwara follows similar engagements throughout the country, within a wider context of developing and maintaining positive relations between Iraq and other nations.
The Iraqi representatives expressed their admiration for Nelson Mandela Bay and its infrastructure development and noted the vibrancy of the local tourism industry, comparing the Friendly City very favourably against larger centres.
Discussions at the meeting covered a broad range of topics, with the Iraqi delegation finding the region’s Industrial Development Strategy of great interest to them, coinciding with their own country’s efforts to diversify their economy.
Al-Alawi and his team noted the many similarities between South Africa and Iraq, especially in terms of the challenges faced by the two countries, and government focus on job creation, poverty alleviation, security and the provision of health care. They advocated closer collaboration between the two countries, and believed that partnerships would reap positive results in the business sector.
“We look forward to further engagement with a high level delegation visiting South Africa later in this quarter, with the aim of agreeing on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which will lay the foundation for business in Nelson Mandela Bay to seek opportunities in Iraq through their Business Chambers,” said Hustler.
According Al-Alawi, Iraq is now one of the fastest growing economies in the world, the improvement in the country’s political situation having laid the ground for economic improvement.
To encourage investment in Iraq, attractive incentives are available to those wishing to conduct business in the country.
The lack of a South African embassy in Baghdad has so far meant that South African businesses have not benefited, but Al-Alawi’s aim is to encourage and support South African business wishing to benefit from the opportunities available.
“We sincerely appreciate the hand of friendship extended toward business in our region and look forward to building on our relationship for the benefit of both nations and into the future,” said Hustler.