Iraq eyes joining China's Belt and Road initiative

11 June, 2024

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani on Sunday said that it is possible to link China’s Belt and Road with Iraq’s strategic project of the Development Road, noting that Chinese company PetroChina has offered to cooperate in this endeavor, Shafaq News reported.

Turkiye, Iraq, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates recently launched an initiative to establish new trade corridor connecting the Persian Gulf to Europe. This route is called the Development Road and is the latest economic corridor in the region after China's Belt and Road Initiative and the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor.

The project, which was shaken hands on during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Baghdad on April 22, is expected to cost $20 billion, with most of the financial support coming from Doha and Abu Dhabi.

During a meeting with PetroChina's Middle East Executive Director Houliang Dai, al-Sudani said that "the Belt and Road Initiative can be linked to the Development Road project to create a single project, and this is what the company has offered to cooperate in."

He expressed Iraq's readiness to partner with the company in petrochemical projects outside the country, and that the government is adopting environmental standards in project implementation, as well as providing an investment environment for operating companies, developing and establishing training centers for worker development, and cooperating in the field of scholarships.

Al-Sudani expressed his country’s keenness to develop relations with China in all fields, and that the presence of Chinese companies in various sectors, including the oil sector, reinforces this trend. He pointed to the associated gas project that he inaugurated yesterday in Maysan Governorate, which is implemented by PetroChina, as one of the strategic projects between the two countries, as “it falls within the government's priorities in stopping waste in the form of gas flaring”.

The Prime Minister explained Iraq's interest in developing gas projects, within the government's program to develop the manufacturing industry and fertilizer industry, which “will give the economy added value and provide job opportunities”. He added that the government will offer “locations to companies, especially PetroChina, stressing that the integrated energy implementation project will be offered, which includes oil production, associated gas, treatment plants, a power plant, and a petrochemical refinery.”

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