Chinese contractor seals $1.4bn deal to build houses, hospital and schools in southern Iraq

The China Construction Third Engineering Bureau last week signed a $1.39bn contract with Iraq to build residential, medical and educational buildings in the south of the country, reports Xinhua.

A statement issued by the company said it signed the deal in Dubai, and that it would cover low-cost housing, education, healthcare, tourism in the governorates of Najaf, Karbala and Basra.

The projects  are expected to take three years to be completed.

Economic relations between China and Iraq have been developing rapidly in recent years, on the back of a 10% annual increase in trade. The countries have a trade volume of $30bn a year, of which $20bn is made up of Iraqi oil, making China Iraq’s largest trade partner.

Zhang Tao, China’s ambassador to Iraq, told the Xinhua agency last month that China attached "great importance to participating in reconstruction, and the Chinese companies are paying great attention to training and qualifying the Iraqi cadres".

The two countries established a strategic partnership in 2015, although up to now Chinese investment has mainly been in the oil sector, as well as heavy industry and infrastructure such as power plants, cement factories and water treatment stations.

Zhang added that the security situation in Iraq had improved after Iraqi security forces defeated the Islamic State militants in 2017, paving the way for international investment.

Image: The Masjid al-Imam ‘Ali mosque in Najaf (Public Domain)

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