Foreign Direct Investment in Post-War Iraq: An Investor's Introductory Guide to the Legal Framework
9 BYU International Law & Management Review 141 (2013)
27 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2012 Last revised: 16 Oct 2013
Date Written: 2013
In spite of its troubled past and ongoing internecine violence, Iraq today stands at the threshold of economic opportunity in ways that few developing states — much less war-torn states like Iraq — could imagine. The Iraq National Investment Commission reported, for example, that in 2010, 178 companies filed for investment licenses totaling $10.5 billion. Currently, the primary foreign participants in Iraq’s post-war economic expansion are sophisticated multinational corporations (MNC), many of which have experience investing in politically and economically unstable markets, including those in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. In their efforts to capitalize on Iraq’s unrivalled natural resources and nascent economic development, these MNCs rely on expert in-house counsel, experienced local counsel, and an expanding group of international law firms to navigate Iraq’s unique legal landscape.
“Smaller” and less experienced foreign investors, including some small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), sense the opportunities in Iraq and want a seat at the table. Yet, unlike their larger MNC counterparts, many of these SMEs have limited experience conducting business in the MENA region, are wary of the ongoing political and economic instability in Iraq, and often do not have the financial flexibility to retain expert counsel from large international law firms. Although various think tanks, government agencies, and international organizations have provided useful information regarding the legal framework governing foreign direct investment (FDI) in post-War Iraq, the literature remains fragmented and, at times, outdated.
This Article is intended to provide SMEs, theorists, and practitioners an up-to-date, introductory overview of the legal framework governing FDI in post-War Iraq with an eye towards facilitating a greater awareness among SMEs and non-MNC foreign investors of the benefits and challenges attending FDI in post-War Iraq. Specifically, this article briefly explains the broader legal system within which FDI in Iraq takes place and outlines in more detail several common legal issues — such as setting up a business, tax matters, banking, and repatriation of funds — that foreign investors are likely to encounter when preparing for and conducting business activity in Iraq. Additionally, this Article provides investors with practical insights into some of the non-legal issues that accompany investment in post-War Iraq, including sociocultural and security issues. This Article is intended to function as a preliminary, scholarly supplement to professional legal advice.
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