Baghdad, (AFP) – Iraq’s transport minister appealed to foreign firms on Sunday to help restore his country’s dilapidated infrastructure by rebuilding airports and constructing a European-style rail network.
Hadi al-Ameri made the remarks at a conference of nearly 50 companies in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone, arguing that as Iraq’s oil income rises in the coming years, there will be increasing numbers of projects to upgrade the country’s potholed roads and small airports.
“Iraq could be the most attractive place in the world for investment in the transport sector,” Ameri said in a speech to executives and officials in the Rasheed hotel.
“There are billions of dollars worth of opportunities for investment.”
Ameri said he expected revenues from oil would top $200 billion, double current projections, when production rises to around 4 million barrels per day in the coming years.
“There will be investment opportunities and new work.”
He said the government wanted to renovate already-built airports and sea ports, as well as building new ones, and that it also wanted to establish 2,000 kilometres (1,250 miles) of rail track with “European characteristics”.
Iraq’s 2012 budget, approved by MPs on Thursday night, allocates around $1 billion for transport and communications.
Much of Iraq’s trade, transport and industrial infrastructure was destroyed during three decades of war and sanctions culminating in the US-led invasion of 2003 and its aftermath