November 16, 2012
JICA President Akihiko Tanaka visited Iraq and held talks with Hoshyar Zebari, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq and other Iraqi government leaders from October 30 to November 2. Tanaka also had a visit to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) office in Baghdad and toured Erbil in northern Iraq.
JICA President Akihiko Tanaka (left) and Zebari, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq during their talks
Tanaka began his discussion with Zebari in Baghdad on October 30. The minister expressed his appreciation for JICA’s ODA loans and its technical cooperation which contribute to improving socioeconomic infrastructure in Iraq as well as supporting capacity development of Iraqi people.
The minister shared his view that despite the unstable security situation in Iraq, the country had already emerged from the worst period, with some regions having achieved a considerable degree of stability and seeing improved conditions. The minister repeatedly noted that Iraq’s need for development was monumental and expressed his hopes for further loan assistance in sectors such as the oil and energy. Tanaka responded that JICA wants to move forward with an emphasis on cooperation that mitigates disparities.
In a discussion, the Iraqi side expressed its appreciation for JICA’s acceptance of around 5,000 Iraqi trainees
Next, Tanaka held a discussion with Hamid Khalaf Ahmad, Chief Staff of Prime Minister Office, Sami Al-Araji, Chairman of the National Investment Commission, Thamir Abbas Ghadhban, Chairman of Advisory Commission of Prime Minister Office and other authorities.
In the discussion, the Iraqi side expressed their hope for JICA’s continuous support for the oil, electricity and water sectors as well as the rehabilitation of ports and industrial facilities through Japanese ODA loans. The Iraqi side also requested the support to Japanese companies which will revitalize the private sector in Iraq. In addition to agreeing with the importance of expanding private investment which includes Japanese companies, Tanaka said, “We would like to cooperate in the areas such as rehabilitation of infrastructure, human resources development and improvement of business practices complying with international standards.”
Tanaka and Mustafa (right), Head of Department of Foreign Relations after their talks
On the following day, October 31, Tanaka visited the USAID office in Baghdad. After an exchange of opinions, he then traveled to Erbil in northern Iraq. Erbil is known as the capital of the Kurdistan Region and the largest city in Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq. Soon after the Gulf War ended in 1991, Erbil began its urban development. Maintained security in Erbil has enabled this city to achieve a stunning rate of economic development in comparison to other areas of Iraq.
On November 1 in Erbil, Tanaka held talks with Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, Kurdistan Regional Government. Mustafa praised JICA’s proactive cooperation in the Kurdistan Region and said, “We hope JICA’s cooperation in capacity development, private sector development and civil society particularly in projects that promote independence of women and other vulnerable members of society.” Tanaka responded, “JICA places an emphasis on these areas and we are on the same direction.”
Tanaka (left) looks out over central Erbil
On October 14, JICA signed new Japanese ODA loan agreements with the Government of Iraq for a total of around 67 billion Japanese yen, achieving the Japanese Government’s commitment in 2003 for cooperation to Iraq of 3.5 billion U.S. dollars through ODA loans. It means that JICA‘s cooperation to Iraq has advanced to a new stage. Although the working and living conditions in Iraq are severely restricted, JICA places a high priority on economic diversification and private sector development for a wide range of development issues in Iraq. In addition, JICA will continue to strengthen partnerships with other development aid agencies, and to provide cooperation in the reconstruction of Iraq also by taking into account views of the Japanese private sector.