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US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez insisted on Sunday that security in Iraq has improved and urged businesspeople to look at potential opportunities to invest in the war-ravaged country.
"What we see today is that the security situation has improved, it has improved to such a way where we believe companies should be taking a look at potential opportunities," Gutierrez told reporters in Amman.
"With security improving, businesses are growing and jobs are created, giving people hope and a different view of the future. So having more security attracts more investments."
Gutierrez is in Jordan to take part in the US-Middle East and North Africa Trade and Investment Conference, which opens on Monday on the shores of the Dead Sea.
"If Iraq grows that could be very positive for Jordan and the whole area," he said, a week after Iraqi Finance Minister Bayan Jabr Solagh urged Jordanian businessmen to invest in what he called his country's "booming economy" during talks with King Abdullah II.
Iraq is struggling with recovery after a US-led invasion nearly five years ago to topple Saddam Hussein because of his alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. None has ever been found.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said last month the country's economy is expected to find stability in 2008-2009 despite political and security problems.
It added that Iraqi gross domestic product (GDP) growth would likely top seven per cent this year and hold between seven and eight per cent in 2009, while oil production, which accounts for 70 per cent of GDP activity, is expected to increase by 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2008.
Gutierrez said Iraqi oil exports grew from eight billion dollars in 2003 to 28 billion dollars currently.
"Iraqi oil exports have done well, but that is very much a function of oil and the price of oil, and one of Iraq's great opportunities is to diversify outside oil," he said. (AFP)
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