Thank you for that introduction.
And thank you, Fatih, for inviting me to the IEA’s roundtable on energy reform for Iraq.
When it comes to energy, I think it’s fair to say that Iraq has weathered more than its share of serious storms.
When our Administration first took office in January of 2017, ISIS was still wreaking havoc.
But with the help of many allies around this table, Iraq’s government and people rose up and shattered ISIS’s power.
What followed was unmistakable energy progress, as Iraqi oil production and exports steadily recovered, as Fatih mentioned in his opening statement.
In April of last year, the IEA issued its Iraq Energy Report, which proposed pivotal reforms to accelerate that progress and achieve energy independence.
Clearly, Iraq has its challenges, but we intend to help Iraq meet them – and that’s of course why we are here today.
We are at this roundtable to assess actions that will enable Iraq to unleash its energy and ensure its prosperity by harnessing its incredible resources.
What actions can Iraq take?
If Baghdad wants its energy projects to move forward, with minimal impact on its treasury, it should spare no effort to attract private capital.
And that means creating a climate of commercial certainty, based upon the rule of law, by fully honoring contracts and by making timely payment in both good times and bad.
Doing so will open the door to foreign capital and expertise, including U.S. companies and their matchless talents and technology.
As for today, I hope we will build upon the IEA’s fantastic analysis of Iraq’s energy sector and amplify its call for Iraq to reform its power sector.
To that end, I’m delighted that Iraq’s Council of Ministers plans to reform the country’s electricity tariff structure, strengthen its electricity tariff collections, and improve Iraq’s electrical distribution system.
Ensuring a fair market price for electricity and reducing the burden of subsidies can do wonders for Iraq’s budget and for the commercial viability of its new energy projects.
I look forward to our discussions about these matters today.
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