Post-conflict Iraq to build e-commerce future with UNCTAD help

13 December 2018

International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation and UNCTAD sign partnership agreement to support a diagnosis of e-commerce readiness in the Republic of Iraq.

Iraq’s ambassador to Kenya welcomed the 13 December signing of an agreement between the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) and UNCTAD to assess the readiness of post-conflict Iraq to engage in and benefit from e-commerce.

“Iraq is entering a second phase of reconstruction after about three or four years of war against terrorism,” Ambassador Burhan N. S. Aljaf said in Nairobi where the agreement was signed on the sidelines of UNCTAD’s Africa eCommerce Week taking place on 10-14 December.

A new government was elected in Iraq in 2018 after the country fought and vanquished the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terror group (also known as ISIS) from 2014 to 2017.

“The war is over,” Mr. Aljaf said. “The priority of the new government is to rebuild Iraq and the agreement signed today will help a lot.”

International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation

UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said he was delighted to announce a formal partnership between UNCTAD and the ITFC to carry out a Rapid eTrade Readiness Assessment for Iraq, under the Aid for Trade Initiative for the Arab States programme.

“Thanks to the generous financial support provided by the ITFC, we will be carrying out the first ‘enhanced’ eTrade Readiness Assessment,” he said. “It will follow the standard methodology used for the past ones but will include a deep-dive into one or two key sectors where digitalization is particularly relevant in the context of the Iraqi economy.”

Barriers and bottlenecks

UNCTAD’s Rapid eTrade Readiness Assessments help developing countries take stock of their information and communication technology capabilities and formulate a strategy to overcome barriers to and bottlenecks in the growth of e-commerce and digital trade.

“Digitalization is now the future of trade and providing our member countries with the enablers to get the adequate environment for e-trade is now ITFC’s strategic focus,” ITFC chief executive officer Hani Salem Sonbol said.

“With our partners, we will design integrated programmes that are tailored to meet the critical market needs of the member countries, as we are signing today for Iraq.”

He said that since 2017 ITFC had adopted a new model that went beyond trade financing into capacity building. He was grateful for the assistance of partners such as UNCTAD in this work.

The eTrade Readiness Assessment for Iraq project will have three immediate objectives:

  • Enhance the understanding of Iraq’s overall readiness for e-commerce through stocktaking and surveys

  • Increase national actions (policies and programmes) aimed at boosting e-commerce adoption in Iraq

  • Enhance access to technical cooperation available among eTrade for all partners and to investment opportunities by eTrade for all partner-members of Business for eTrade Development (B4ETD).

ITFC is an autonomous entity within the Islamic Development Bank Group created to advance trade so that it improves the economic condition and livelihoods of people in Islamic countries.