Press releases

Iraqi small businesses to secure deals at Second Iraq National Trade Forum

20 February 2024
ITC News

19 February (Baghdad): The second edition of the Iraq National Trade Forum (INTF) was inaugurated in Baghdad today.

With support from the government of Iraq, the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, organized the two-day trade forum to help Iraqi businesses to identify and develop trade opportunities. The Forum is funded by the European Union.

More than 450 participants from the agriculture and agrifood sectors, business support organizations, international and regional suppliers, and investors, including over 200 Iraqi and international companies, donors and development partners attended the first day.

The second INTF comes after the successful first edition held in 2022 that helped secure participating companies’ potential deals worth $2.5 million through more than 170 business-to-business (B2B) sessions, bridging over 70 Iraqi companies with global suppliers and investors. 30% of participant companies that had participated in 2022, returned for the second year.

The B2B event remained an integral part of the INTF to better connect Iraqi micro, small and medium-sized enterprises involved in farming, food processing, packaging and logistics with international and regional suppliers and investors.

These interactions are key for expanding business networks, facilitating business deals, fostering sustainable investments and promoting innovation while sharing best practices from leading Iraqi agribusinesses.

In addition to plenary sessions, high-level panels with practical workshops and B2B meetings, the 2024 edition of the Forum featured a trade exhibition called ‘Iraqi Bazaar’ that showcased hundreds of locally produced items in a pop-up store.

The label ‘By Iraqi Hands’ to stimulate the food industry and encourage people to buy more local products and support sustainable development was launched at the INTF. Iraq’s Potato Sector Development Strategy was also officially launched on the occasion.

The ITC flagship report, SME Competitiveness Outlook 2023, was also launched globally on 19 February at the INTF. The report focuses on the impact of fragility on the competitiveness and growth of small businesses.

The European Union Ambassador to Iraq, Thomas Seiler said: ‘International trade presents a very good opportunity for Iraq to revitalize its agricultural sector, diversify its economy, and achieve sustainable economic growth. By fostering international partnerships and leveraging its agricultural potential, Iraq can become a player in the global market and an even more important economic actor in the region. The European Union will continue to remain a close partner of Iraq and promote its integration in the global and regional markets.’

ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke Hamilton said: ‘With over one million MSMEs in operation, smaller businesses account for two-thirds of Iraq’s private sector jobs. And they provide much more than that: they deliver crucial goods and services for the functioning of the local economy and for the wellbeing of its communities. As hundreds of Iraqi companies connect with buyers and investors at the Forum, they contribute to sustainable, trade-led development in the country and beyond.’

ITC Head of Country Programme in Iraq, Eric Buchot said: ‘Small businesses forming two-thirds of Iraq’s private employment, are key to its economy. The involvement of 300 businesses at INTF 2024 could be game-changing with a fundamental mindset shift. For real impact, fostering competitiveness and a market focused approach is essential.’

Deputy Special Representative, Resident Coordinator for Iraq Ghulam Mohammad Isaczai said: ‘The success of the Second Iraq National Trade Forum underscores the vital role of Iraqi SMEs in driving economic growth and sustainable development. Through fostering partnerships and promoting innovation, we are paving the way for a more prosperous future for Iraq. The UN is committed to supporting Iraq's journey towards economic diversification and resilience, highlighting the importance of collaboration at all levels. Together, we are building a stronger, more inclusive economy that benefits all Iraqis.’

The INTF has become a platform for enhancing awareness of pivotal domestic reforms, aimed at fostering robust private sector development.


About the International Trade Centre

The International Trade Centre (ITC, is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations (UN), fully dedicated to supporting the development and internationalization of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). ITC's mission is to foster inclusive and sustainable growth and development through trade and international business development. ITC is a UN Resident Agency in Iraq with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

Follow ITC on X | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram | Flickr


Media contacts

Delegation of the European Union to Iraq
Al-Sadiq Al-Adilee – Press and Information Officer [at] (alsadiq[dot]al-adilee[at]eeas[dot]europa[dot]eu)


International Trade Centre
Waqas Rafique, Public Information Officer
wrafique [at] (wrafique[at]intracen[dot]org)