As part of Mayer Brown’s Rule of Law Initiative, Corporate partner David Carpenter and senior counsel Stuart Pergament participated in a training program for senior Iraqi officials on forming durable strategic partnerships with foreign firms. The program was organized by the Commercial Law Development Program of the US Department of Commerce, in collaboration with the International Senior Lawyers Project. The training was the third phase of an eight-month program designed for Iraq’s state owned enterprises (SOEs), and it included representatives from Iraqi SOEs and the Iraqi Ministry of Industry and Minerals, the government agency that oversees the companies.
The first phase of the program took place in Baghdad and involved skills-development exercises and case studies on how to identify and engage potential partners. The second phase, which was held in Istanbul, Turkey, involved exercises on structuring, negotiating, and drafting contracts that form the bases of these partnerships. The third phase was held in Washington DC in October 2011, and focused on the legal issues related to the formation of international strategic partnerships.
As part of this phase of the program, David and Stuart participated in a two-day simulated contract negotiation with the Iraqi participants. David and Stuart assumed the role of negotiators for an international company interested in forming a joint venture with an Iraqi SOE, in order to help the Iraqi participants gain practical negotiation experience.
“Participating in the negotiation workshop was a tremendous experience,” David noted. “Because Iraq has historically operated under a socialist model, at the beginning of this initiative the Iraqi ministry, the state owned enterprises and the representatives of these agencies literally had no idea what factors would be considered of importance to potential investors or joint venture partners. My sense is that the Iraqi delegation learned a great deal from this exercise, and at the conclusion of our meetings, I had the sense that there was a genuine desire on the part of the delegates to return to Iraq to begin work on legislative and judicial reform of the type that would make Iraq a more attractive destination for foreign investment."