Iraq is now a member of the world's largest corporate responsibility pact, the UN Global Pact.
Signatories to the agreement include 135 countries, more than 6,000 companies, and about 3,000 non-governmental organisations from around the world.
"Iraq's membership in the agreement will give it the chance to verify the credibility, transparency, and track record of the companies that are signatories to the pact, based on grounds and criteria that are transparent and accepted locally and internationally," secretary-general of the Iraqi cabinet Ali al-Allaq said at a press conference Saturday (October 15th).
Peter Bachelor, regional director of the United Nations Development Programme in Iraq, said allowing the entry of companies into Iraq based strictly on internationally accepted criteria would raise the country's economic standard.
"These companies would have four basic attributes -- respect for human rights, respect for work standards, respect for the environment, and commitment to fighting corruption," he said.
Salman al-Musawi, a member of the Iraqi parliament's economic and investment committee, told mawtani.com that signing such international agreements is vital for the country.
"In the past, Iraq suffered a great deal from incompetent investors and companies entering the country. Therefore, through such alliances, we are trying to raise economic standards to a better level," he said.
Al-Musawi said the idea of Iraq joining the agreement was one of the proposals submitted by parliament's economic committee, which was then forwarded to the cabinet.
"The companies coming to Iraq, as well as Iraqi firms operating in the country, will be classified on the basis of their importance, trade name and reputation, in order to overcome the mistakes we made in the past," he said.
In October 2006, the Iraqi parliament passed the Investment Law, which opened the doors to foreign investment by offering huge incentives and facilities. The law also gave equal privileges to Iraqi and foreign investors, except in real estate. While foreign investors could not purchase land, the law enabled foreign investors to lease land for 50 years, pending renewal.
Under this law, investors can submit their projects to the National Investment Commission headquarters or to investment commissions in their areas to obtain an investment license. They can also file a request for an investment license to the central office created by the NIC.
Iraq has held investment conferences in recent years in a number of countries, such as a 2009 conference in London in which more than 500 investment opportunities were offered. Another conference was held in Washington in October of last year in which more than 1,000 investment opportunities were offered to American firms.
"Iraq's membership in this agreement will be more like an important strategy the country needs in the present time as it enters into the phase of building and reconstruction," said Qusay Juma, member of parliament's economic and investment committee.
"We are planning and have the ambition to reach the level of advanced countries and the World Trade Organization," Juma said. "By that, we will have achieved an accomplishment for our people of which we can be proud."