The Iraqi Business Council (IBC) opened here yesterday with the aim of stimulating trade and investment between the two countries once stability is restored in Iraq.

But the immediate priority for the new council is to kickstart an information centre and network with other businessmen and potential investors in the UAE.

The council has 15 members forming the core committee. Membership is open to non-Iraqis and corporates.

"The main aim of the IBC is to draw up plans for cooperation between businessmen in Iraq and the UAE to facilitate business, investment and trade once stability returns to Iraq," said Talib M.Khan, chairman, IBC, Abu Dhabi.

"Our main priority is to create a database, an information centre to provide economic and social information to investors."

The IBC is likely to set up an office in the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ADCCI) soon. Last month, the ADCCI signed a protocol with the Baghdad Chamber of Commerce to facilitate exchanges of information on trade and investment. Some 60,000-80,000 Iraqis live in the UAE.

Trade, mainly exports from the UAE to Iraq, is on the upswing totalling almost $3 billion annually.

"Dubai has the lion's share of the exports to Iraq but with the new council formed here we see Abu Dhabi also playing a big role in the trade between the two countries," said Khan.

"There is so much to be done for the reconstruction of Iraq. The country has been suffering and it is time for Iraqis to contribute something to the rebuilding of their country. We will start drawing up plans soon."