Speech by Mr. Ahmad Al-Mukhtar, Director General of Foreign
Economic Relations, Iraq Ministry of Trade, to the General Council of the World
Released 12:00, 11 February, Geneva
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Delegates
This is a good day for Iraq and it gives me great pleasure to come here today to
thank you on behalf of the government and people of Iraq for accepting our
request for an observer status at the WTO.
It is an important step for Iraq towards integration into the global economy.
After decades of isolation, Iraq is beginning to rejoin the international
community and your decision today sends a positive signal to the people of Iraq
that they are welcomed back and that the world really cares about their welfare.
Since the downfall of the old regime, Iraq has been taking rapid steps towards
instituting economic transformations shifting from a centrally planned economy
into market economy favoring private enterprise, economic freedom, full
employment, free markets and free trade.
Those include lowering tariffs, a foreign investment law and reform of the
Iraq's oil reserves are the second largest in the world and its natural gas
fields the tenth largest. Our people are highly educated and highly motivated.
With an economic policy conforming to international norms and practices, those
elements would give Iraq an opportunity to become an active player in
But there is much to be done.
The observer status will help us in many ways. It will give us better
understanding of the WTO. It will assist us in adopting WTO-consistent laws and
regulations and Iraqis who had been forced into isolation by the previous regime
will get the chance to benefit from the vast resources available at the WTO to
learn and to build their capacity.
Iraq is undergoing a transition, and today it has taken the first step on the
long hard road to accession.
It is helpful to us that you have welcomed us and we look forward to working
with a future Iraqi accession working party.
I wish to thank all of those who helped and supported us. We've been warmly
received here in Geneva and we look forward to having close and fruitful
cooperation in our bid to accede to full membership.
It is indeed a good day for Iraq, and you helped making it that way. Thank you.