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Fox pledges extra £1bn to support UK exports to Iraq

The government has announced an extra £1bn of funding to support UK exports to Iraq and British firms investing in the country.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox is in Iraqi capital Baghdad for a three-day visit – the first to the country by a UK cabinet minister for more than a year.

He will meet both Iraq's prime minister Adil Abdul Mehdi and president Barham Salih to discuss the two countries' trading relationship.

Dr Fox will also announce UK Export Finance (UKEF) is making an additional £1bn available to support UK exports to Iraq, doubling its total support to the country to £2bn.

The cash is available to UK companies selling to Iraq or investing in the country and will help the Iraqi government access finance for projects that source goods and services from the UK.

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UKEF aims to ensure no viable UK export fails for lack of finance or insurance and boasts of operating at no net cost to UK taxpayers.

It has already supported UK firms in their work on water projects and in building power stations in Iraq.

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Iraq declared victory over Islamic State in the country in 2017
Image: Iraq declared victory over Islamic State in the country in 2017

Dr Fox said: "The atmosphere in Baghdad is one of optimism – it is a country which is having an increasingly stable period at a time of significant unrest in the wider region.

"The British government, working closely with the UK private sector and our Iraqi partners, have a key role to play in the country's long-term prosperity.

"The £1bn we have announced today will significantly strengthen our ability to do just that.

"Iraq's future is bright, and my international economic department will continue to work tirelessly to ensure it maintains this stability, allowing the hard work of its talented citizens to flourish for the benefit of all.

"Trade is about more than economic self-interest, it is the means through which we deliver the mutual prosperity that underpins our collective security.

"That is the true prize of trade policy and promotion done right."

The Iraqi government announced the defeat of terror group Islamic State in the country in December 2017.

It followed three years' of fighting during which the extremists, at one point, controlled one-third of Iraq's territory.

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