Business, Finance & Economics

Iraq as investment opportunity

This man has traveled across the Middle East, but he'd never taken a trip quite like his first one to Iraq where he was escorted into his first business meeting by security personnel and had to wear an armored vest. He is considering partnering with two Iraqi state-run companies to fix power generators. He says it does make him consider if this will be part of the normal routine. So far he hasn't been deterred and his company signed a letter of intent to go ahead with the project. But other foreign companies are also exploring business ventures in Iraq and many are deciding it's not worth the risk. Two years ago with violence in Iraq spinning out of control, U.S. Deputy Under Secretary of Defense launched a task force to rebuild the country's economy and spark business deals with foreign investors and the Iraqi government. He says Iraq has the potential but is just emerging from this violent period. He says he's hoping one transaction will lead to another and another. He says there's been over $500 million dollars of foreign investment in Iraq this year. By January he expects that number to exceed a billion. Private U.S. interests account for only $150 million of that. This consultant says U.S. business owners need to get on the track and fast, but there are many reasons American businesses are hedging: the war remains deeply unpopular in America, the Iraqi banking system, as well as legal and political systems, are still in their early development stages, and a basic cultural divide. American companies simply have less experience that Asian and European counterparts, as well.

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