The Iraqi government is looking to strengthen economic ties with China by encouraging more Chinese companies to invest in Iraq and by increasing trade.
Mehma Khalil, member of the Iraqi parliament's economy and investment committee, said Iraq seeks to benefit from the experience of Chinese companies in reconstruction and other fields.
"Iraq has promising investment opportunities, especially in the sectors of electricity, industry and communications. China, with the huge economic force it represents in world markets, can be a key, important investment partner," he told Mawtani.
The volume of trade between Iraq and China has increased by more than 75% since 2009, rising to about $6 billion in 2010.
"This undoubtedly indicates that there is development in joint economic relations," Khalil said. "However, we aspire to raise this volume to more than $10 billion per year."
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited China in July, heading a high-level government delegation to hold talks to strengthen bilateral relations. The visit resulted in the signing of a memorandum of understanding on technical and economic cooperation in energy, transportation, housing, agriculture and workforce training.
During a meeting with al-Maliki, Chinese President Hu Jintao promised to cancel all debts Iraq owes to China and to support the country's efforts in building and reconstruction. China had already canceled 80% of Iraq's debt owed to Chinese companies -- about $8.5 billion -- after the two countries signed a joint agreement in 2010.
"China's important standing in the world economy and international politics encourages us to strengthen our relations with it and share our mutual interests on various levels," said Zala al-Naftaji, a member of the foreign relations committee in the Iraqi parliament.
Al-Naftaji told Mawtani that it is important to attract many Chinese investment companies to work in Iraq, to provide the necessary agreements and resources for them, and to try to enhance political and diplomatic cooperation.
There are more than 100 Chinese investment and commercial companies currently working in Iraq.
China National Petroleum Corporation is working with French, British and Malaysian companies to develop three giant oil fields in southern Iraq: Ahdab, Halfayah and Rumailah. These projects are worth about $20 billion.
Shanghai Electric also has a major role in renovation projects in the electricity sector. The company is developing the Zubaidiyah thermal power plant in Wasit province, raising its production capacity to 2,500 megawatts.
Iraq is also a major importer of Chinese products, including Chery cars. The Chinese automaker opened a showroom in Baghdad this year to market its products directly to Iraqi consumers.
Abdul Rahman Nejim, an economics professor at Mustansiriyah University, said the prime minister's visit to China would open new horizons for strategic partnership in investment and trade, and support Iraq's efforts to develop and improve stability.
"The Iraqi government is counting on China's willingness to implement more projects in the oil industry sector and other sectors under the deferred-payment system, whereby Iraq would pay over the course of years," Nejim told Mawtani.
"It is important to work to create an active and effective investment and business environment in the country, especially as estimates say the Iraqi economy will be one of the fastest-growing economies in the world in the next two years."