A Japanese firm will help the government of Iraq in a breakthrough project to build energy infrastructure such as gas-fueled power plants as well as ports and pipelines.

Hussein al-Shahristani, deputy prime minister for energy affairs, met with Toyo Engineering Corp. chairman Yushi Nagata and both sides agreed to involve the firm to participate in a government panel on energy policy. It is the first time the Iraqi government has allowed a private-sector firm to do so.

Toyo Engineering forged a technical partnership with a regional oil company operating under Iraq’s state-owned petroleum firm and will draft a basic proposal on plans to develop Iraq’s resources. The country has the world’s third largest petroleum reserves, reports the Nikkei.

It is hoped that the joint venture will pave the way for Japanese manufacturers and competitors from Europe, US, and South Korea to invest in the country as it seeks to increase production and exports that were held back by a lack of infrastructure.