Iraqi Bankers Meet U.S., International Financiers in New York, Washington
ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA (June 17, 2004) -- Reconstruction and modernization of
Iraq's banking sector is the focus of a U.S. Trade and Development Agency
(USTDA) sponsored orientation visit that is taking place this week in New York
City and Washington, D.C. Representatives of 12 privately held Iraqi banks and
the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq are participating in the visit.
"The development of a vibrant financial sector will be key as Iraq moves into
the future," said USTDA Director Thelma J. Askey in remarks to the Iraqi
delegation at USTDA offices in Arlington, Virginia today. "USTDA is well suited
to provide assistance in this critical sector, having built a solid
reconstruction record in the Balkans in the 1990s and most recently in
The orientation visit was designed to expose the delegates to U.S. banks and to
technology, capacity, and regulatory practices in the U.S. financial sector. In
addition, the delegates are meeting with U.S. Government officials and
representatives of international financial institutions. USTDA sponsored a
business briefing today for U.S. firms to learn about developments and
opportunities in banking sector in Iraq. One-on-one meetings were held between
the Iraqi delegates and U.S. firms to discuss potential business partnerships.
Mr. Kevin G. Woelflein, Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Finance from the
Coalition Provisional Authority, is accompanying the delegation. "Reconstruction
and modernization of the private banking sector is essential for economic growth
in Iraq," said Mr. Woelflein. "This visit has provided the delegates with a
valuable opportunity to learn about modern banking practices and will help to
make private banks the core of the future banking structure in Iraq."
Private banks are likely to play a significant role in the future of the Iraqi
financial sector and many steps have been taken to encourage their development.
For example, modern legislation has been enacted to govern important financial
institutions, such as the Iraqi Central Bank and the Trade Bank of Iraq. In
addition, a new currency has been successfully put into circulation and interest
rates have been liberalized. To attract investors, the Iraq Banking Law permits
foreigners to buy up to 50% of an existing Iraqi bank without going through the
licensing procedure for establishing a new bank or making a majority
The delegation is lead by Faleh Dawood Salman, Deputy Governor of the Central
Bank of Iraq. Other participants include officials from Al Baraka for Investment
and Financing Bank, Investment Bank of Iraq, Bank of Baghdad, Iraqi Middle East
Investment Bank, Basrah Private Bank for Investment, Islamic Bank, Commercial
Bank of Iraq, North Bank, Credit Bank of Iraq, Sumer Bank, Gulf Commercial Bank,
and United Investment Bank.
Following today's business briefing, representatives of U.S. Government finance
agencies made presentations to the delegates. Participants included April H.
Foley, Vice Chair and First Vice President of the Export-Import Bank of the
United States; Jay Brandes, Director of the Iraq Reconstruction Task Force at
the U.S. Department of Commerce; and Dulce Zahniser, Senior Advisor to the
President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
Earlier in the week, the delegation participated in meetings in New York City
with representatives of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Institute of
International Bankers, Bankers Association of Foreign Trade, the Business
Council for International Understanding, and the Arab Bankers Association of
North America. Following today's program at USTDA, the delegation will have
meetings at the U.S. Department of Treasury, the International Monetary
Fund/World Bank, and the International Finance Corporation.
The U.S. Trade and Development Agency advances economic development and U.S.
commercial interests in developing and middle-income countries. The agency funds
various forms of technical assistance, feasibility studies, training,
orientation visits and business workshops that support the development of a
modern infrastructure and a fair and open trading environment. USTDA's strategic
use of foreign assistance funds to support sound investment policy and
decision-making in host countries creates an enabling environment for trade,
investment and sustainable economic development. In carrying out its mission,
USTDA gives emphasis to economic sectors that may benefit from U.S. exports of
goods and services.