| 21 October 2021, Thursday |

Boushekian at opening of Iraqi-Lebanese Business Conference: Barriers between both countries rejected

The Iraqi-Lebanese Business Conference was held on Monday at Beirut and Mount Lebanon Chamber’s headquarters under the auspices and attendance of Minister of Industry, George Boushekian.

Lebanese Ambassador to Iraq, Ali Habhab, delivered a word in which he affirmed the embassy’s relentless efforts facilitating movement between Lebanon and Iraq.

“The Lebanese mission has succeeded in facilitating the entry of Lebanese people to Iraq by granting them one-month visitor visas directly at Iraqi airports. The Iraqi authorities are considering the possibility of extending the period of a visitor’s visa granted at airports to a period of three months,” Habhab said.

“Our mission also grants visas to businessmen and investors affiliated with the Iraqi Chambers of Commerce for a period of three or six months. The mission is also endeavoring, along with the Iraqi competent authorities, to grant said visa services at land crossings,” he added.

Ambassador Habhab went on to indicate that the mission had followed up on the problems of Lebanese banks and consequently contacted the Central Bank of Iraq to ensure the continuation of the services of Lebanese banks wishing to stay in Iraq.

Referring to the enormous efforts made to import Lebanese agricultural products into Iraq, Habhab said that facilitating the entry of goods into Iraqi territory remained one of the challenges being worked on.

“The mission seeks to increase trade exchange between the two countries,” he said, referring to efforts to host a “Made in Lebanon Exhibition” — with the possibility of direct sales — from January 20 to 28, 2022, at Baghdad exhibition grounds.

Habhab finally spoke about “other aspects of cooperation, especially on the level of revitalizing cooperation in the medical, hospitalization, tourism, and educational sectors.”

For his part, Iraqi Ambassador to Lebanon, Haidar Al-Barrak, said that the government of Iraq had provided ample aid to the fraternal country of Lebanon by supporting the Lebanese energy sector with one million tons of crude oil, 10 thousand tons of flour, financial aid, let alone granting Lebanese companies wishing to participate in Baghdad’s International Fair big and exceptional discounts.

“Today’s meeting expresses a mutual desire to involve the private sector in both countries to participate in the construction and reconstruction process that must be launched in both of our countries by harnessing the great capabilities of this sector to reach effective bilateral economic integration,” Al-Barrak affirmed.

In turn, Minister of Industry, George Boushekian, delivered a speech in which he said, “As signs of looming solutions have begun to appear in the region, and with the return of relations to normal, Arab and Gulf markets will widely reopen to Lebanese exporters.”

The Minister went on to laud the high quality and diversity of Lebanese industries “in a way that meets the requirements of Iraqi markets.”

“But the question remains, does the volume of exchange between Lebanon and Iraq rise to the same level of political and fraternal relations? Of course not. Lebanon exports approximately USD 150 million annually, while it imports approximately USD 6 to 7 million annually, excluding oil derivatives,” Boushekian said.

Consequently, the Minister called for a serious search for the reasons that have been causing such restrictions in the size of imports and exports movement in a bid to be dealt with as soon as possible.

“Barriers between Lebanon and Iraq are utterly rejected; there are many ways to improve, develop, and raise the volume of exchange in both directions,” Boushekian concluded.