Houston City Council unanimously approves Sister City Agreement between Houston, Texas and Basrah, Iraq

April 9, 2015 -- The Houston City Council has unanimously approved a Sister City Agreement between Houston, Texas and Basrah, Iraq.

The Mayor’s Office of Trade and International Affairs’ program promotes people-to-people diplomacy and encourages citizens to develop mutual trust and understanding through commercial, cultural, educational, and humanitarian exchanges.

The City of Houston signed a Partner Cities agreement with Basrah in December 2012, and the relationship has continued to grow and flourish ever since.

The Bilateral US-Arab Chamber of Commerce, based in Houston, praised the agreement in a written statement: “The potential for a long-term mutually beneficial relationship between Houston and Basrah, especially in regards to trade and economic development, remains even greater still. The relationship has produced fruitful business exchanges and is heavily supported by the business communities in Basrah and Houston, by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of State, and the government of Basrah Province.”

The history of interactions between Basrah and Houston has demonstrated that, in addition to the naturally existing parallels between both regions, there is also a strong network of support on both sides to make this a meaningful relationship.

Highlights from the Houston-Basrah relationship:

  • Basrah, like Houston, is a leader in Iraq’s energy sector. Basrah is home to some of the largest oil fields in Iraq and a majority of Iraq’s exports leave the country through the ports in Basrah.
  • More than 70% of Iraq’s economy is based on oil revenue, with more than 80% produced from Basrah.
  • Basrah is home to all six Iraqi ports.
  • The University of Houston and the University of Basrah are currently in discussions to formalize an engagement process for faculty and student exchanges.
  • The Bilateral US-Arab Chamber of Commerce, based in Houston, has been a key supporter of this relationship in Houston.
  • Basrah has expressed continued support of a Sister City agreement in their past meetings with government officials from the US Departments of State and Commerce and the City of Houston. The approval of a sister city agreement will cement the formal relationship between the City of Houston and Basrah. A Sister City agreement will allow Houstonians to tap into the province’s vast economic development potential and enhance appreciation and understanding of its unique history and culture in a way unlike any other city in the United States. Sister City agreements have led to multiple trade missions, student exchanges and cultural programs between the Houston and its other sister cities, and similar opportunities have been identified with Basrah.
  • There is significant public support for establishing this Sister City agreement from major stakeholders in the City such as the Bilateral US Arab Chamber of Commerce and the University of Houston, and representatives of the Houston business community, many of whom have extensive interactions with Iraq and familiarity with the Basrah region.
  • Upon approval, a signing ceremony will be held in May, 2015, in conjunction with the visit of the Governor of Basrah Province, accompanied by a high level delegation.