'Iraq needs up to $1 trillion to rebuild battered economy'

'Iraq needs up to $1 trillion to rebuild battered economy' Dubai: Iraq needs up to USD 1 trillion (784 million euro) over the next ten years to rebuild its crumbling infrastructure and battered economy, an official has said.

Director of the country's National Investment Commission Sami Al-Araj said the government looks to court foreign investment, diversify the country's oil-dependent economy and reduce unemployment.

"We are talking about the reconstruction of Iraq, a minimum requirement of money...Is about USD 600-USD 700 billion and could go all the way to USD 1 trillion," Al-Araj was quoted by Gulf Times as saying.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the Baghdad International Fair, Iraq's biggest trade showcase in more than 20 years.

Al Araji said much of that money could come from Iraq's rising exports of crude oil, which account for the lion's share of the government income, but "some will have to come from foreign and domestic direct investment."

The figure is a marked increase from USD 186 billion targeted for 2010-2014 -? USD 100 billion from oil sales and the balance from private investment, he added.

Araji said officials were looking to raise investment targets for the 2013-2017 period.

According to Al Araji, Iraq had granted investment licences to both foreign and domestic investors in the past three years worth around $32 billion, most of which was from local sources.

He said from 2013, Iraq would hold specialised trade fairs for key industries in which it is courting investment such as construction, transport and housing.

Iraq's state-dominated economy is heavily dependent on exports of crude oil. The energy sector accounts for around two-thirds of gross domestic product, it only accounts for one per cent of employment.

PTI