On Thursday 27 September the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber hosted the Republic of Iraq Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa, Dr. Hisham Al-Alawi. The ambassador’s visit to the province and Port Elizabeth is part of a series of engagements in South Africa on a national and provincial level to strengthen the relationship between Iraq and South Africa and explore investment and development opportunities.
“It was a privilege to host the ambassador and his colleagues,” says Business Chamber CEO, Kevin Hustler, “to hear first-hand the positive progress within the nation of the Iraq, and to gain deeper insight into the tremendous opportunities that are waiting to be unlocked at an academic, cultural and business level to the mutual benefit of both nations.”
The meeting at the Business Chamber with Kevin Hustler and Chamber president Mandla Madwara follows similar engagements throughout the country, within a wider context of developing and maintaining positive relations between Iraq and other nations.
The Iraqi representatives expressed their admiration for Nelson Mandela Bay and its infrastructure development. The delegation praised the city and all role players for appearing to do this in such a way as to neglect neither local citizens nor tourists. The Iraqis also noted the vibrancy of the local tourism industry, comparing the Friendly City very favourably against larger centres.
Discussions at the meeting covered a broad range of topics, with the Iraqi delegation finding the region’s Industrial Development Strategy of great interest to them, coinciding with their own country’s efforts to diversify their economy. The Ambassador and his team noted the many similarities between South Africa and Iraq, especially in terms of the challenges faced by the two countries, and government focus on job creation, poverty alleviation, security and the provision of health care. They advocate closer collaboration between the two countries, and believe that partnership will reap positive results in the business sector.
“We look forward to further engagement with a high level delegation visiting South Africa later in this quarter, with the aim of agreeing on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which will lay the foundation for business in Nelson Mandela Bay to seek opportunities in Iraq through their Business Chambers,” says Hustler.
According to the Ambassador, Iraq is now one of the fastest growing economies in the world, the improvement in the country’s political situation having laid the ground for economic improvement. To encourage investment in Iraq, attractive incentives are available to those wishing to conduct business in the country. The lack of a South African embassy in Baghdad has so far meant that South African businesses have not benefitted. It is the Ambassador’s aim to encourage and support South African business wishing to benefit from the opportunities available in Iraq.
Hustler continued, “We sincerely appreciate the hand of friendship extended toward business in our region and look forward to building on our relationship for the benefit of both nations and into the future.”