MOTUSAID-Tarabot supported the Ministry of Trade with capacity building, institutional changes, and the introduction of public policy processes. Ministry staff are now better able to plan and execute their capital investment budget, mange projects, eliminate ineffective and outdated regulations, and introduce public policy processes. Capacity building was followed by hands-on application to deepen skills learned, as demonstrated by the use of new project management techniques for the building of grain silos in Wasit. Tarabot also supported the ministry in developing a policy for the streamlining of trade agreements of Iraq, which is estimated to provide $462.2 million in monetary benefits over five years. Additionally, Tarabot helped draft recommendations for a new import-export regime that has since been accepted by the minister and transformed into an executive order by the former Prime Minister.    

Public Policy

USAID-Tarabot assisted executive offices of the Government of Iraq and key service ministries to address public policy issues in a systematic way, and to introduce new tools and procedures for policy coordination in support of public administrative reform and better service delivery. Through the introduction of evidence-based policymaking practices, Tarabot worked to strengthen decision making processes and to promote coordinated and mutually reinforcing policies across government entities.

The Ministry of Trade with the help of USAID-Tarabot established a policy unit in the Foreign Economic Relations Directorate. Together the Ministry and USAID-Tarabot trained the unit’s members on policy process management and analytical methods, produced the unit’s strategic plan, and introduced standard operating procedures for policy production. The unit with USAID-Tarabot technical assistance developed a public policy for streamlining the trade agreements of Iraq, which was estimated at providing US$462.2 million in benefits over five years. The policy unit held policy consultations with the Ministry of Trade’s senior officials. Currently, the ministry is implementing the policy through establishing an integrated trade management information system and producing a new procedure for managing trade agreements.

Regulatory Reform

Many countries in transition face the challenge of broadening the enabling environment to reform and stimulate economic growth and create jobs. Outdated and unnecessary laws and regulations impose efficiency costs on economic activity, while promoting corruption and reducing the government’s ability to deliver services. Tarabot worked to review legislation and regulations and made recommendations for their reform or elimination through an inclusive and transparent process built on extensive stakeholder input.

The Ministry of Trade reviewed 50 business-related regulations with the support of USAID-Tarabot’s Iraq Solution for Regulatory and Administrative Reform (ISRAR) initiative. Legislation reviewed included the “Regulation No. 5 of 1989 on Branches and Offices of Foreign Companies and Economic Institutions” and the “Law to Compensate Those Affected by Military Operations, Military Mistakes and Terrorist Operations No. 20 of the year 2009.” In partnership with the Ministry ofTrade, Tarabot identified outdated laws and regulations that hamper economic and private sector growth, and set forth recommendations for their elimination or reform.

With the assistance of Tarabot, the Ministry of Trade also implemented a series of reforms and improvements to its company registration process. Several layers of bureaucracy, unnecessary waiting periods, inspections and document requirements were eliminated, significantly reducing the ministry’s processing time for company registrations.

In July 2014, former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki approved the removal of import licenses following years of advocacy and consultation by ISRARand the recommendations of the Council of Ministers. ISRAR submitted draft instructions to the Ministry of Trade in March 2014, outlining a new import-export system based on economic best practices. The Minister of Trade demonstrated his support for the recommendation by penning a letter to the Committee of Economic Affairs of the Council of Ministries, formally endorsing ISRAR’s recommendations. With these recommendations on hand, the former prime minister was able to quickly sign a new order, which allowed for the swift implementation of a new import-export regime.

 Project Management

USAID-Tarabot, in partnership with COMSEC, strengthened the capacity of the Ministry of Trade to more efficiently implement its capital investment budget by training 26 engineers on modern project management techniques using Project Management Institute (PMI) standards. Training was provided to engineers in PMI processes, estimation techniques and Microsoft Project, and earned value management. With Tarabot’s assistance, engineers went on to apply their new skills on a project for the construction of concrete silos for grain storage in Wasit with a holding capacity of 80 tons. The project is budgeted at ­­­­$4.1 million, to be executed in stages over five years. Tarabot assisted ministry engineers to develop the project’s schedule and a work breakdown structure using Microsoft Project and earned value management. Through the hands-on application of these techniques alongside Tarabot advisors, ministry engineers have begun to translate their knowledge into practice. Tarabot also assisted the ministry in completing its 2012, 2013, and 2014 procurement plans to guide the ministry’s procurement activities.

Project Planning

USAID-Tarabot worked in partnership with the Government of Iraq to improve capital investment planning through capacity building and institutional reform measures. With the assistance of Tarabot, ministries are better equipped to select and plan investment projects that maximize value and impact in service delivery, and ensure that local projects are coordinated with national priorities as outlined in the National Development Plan 2013–2017.

USAID-Tarabot’s efforts with the Ministry of Trade efforts focused on the development of criteria for the selection of projects based on cost-benefit analyses of economic, social, financial, spatial, and environmental factors with due consideration for development goals, risk levels, and direct and indirect impacts. To this end, a series of capacity building workshops and on-the-job trainings were held for 37 staff members from the Ministry of Transport to enable them to use project selection criteria in project planning. The capacity building process consists of three phases: 1) assessing current planning processes, 2) aligning project selection with National Development Plan goals and developing selection criteria, and 3) applying selection criteria in the development of project plans.

To support the management of the ministry’s projects, USAID-Tarabot assisted the Ministry of Trade to operate the Iraq Development Management System, an online software package for overseeing the ministry’s capital investment cycle. Tarabot provided five ministry staff members with training on the system’s initiation and maintenance, including how to update and enter project information into the system, query it for information, and generate reports on projects and their implementation progress.