Sunday, May 3, 2009

Iraq says it's open for business again - BBC

To be in London at the moment is to hear the mantra "Iraq is open for business". Business Daily went to one conference - Invest Iraq - which was chock-a-block with Iraqi and British ministers and business people.

The message was that violence continues, sure, but it is in pockets and is on the wane. The country is ripe for investment and it can now be done. However, what's the hype and what's the reality?

The BBC's Hugh Sykes has been to Basra in the south of Iraq, from where British troops have now withdrawn, to talk to one businessman who sells electrical goods, about the difficulties Iraqis still face.

Oil investment

It is six years since the US-led invasion of Iraq toppled the government of Saddam Hussein. The country has experienced a huge death toll from war and suicide bombings, and its economy has collapsed. Most of the British troops stationed in the south of Iraq are now returning home.

The Iraqi Prime Minister and senior members of his government have been in London to try and persuade western businesses to invest in Iraq. Oil companies are keen to exploit the country's oil supplies, the third largest in the world. It is the first time in more than a decade that Iraq's government has made such a big effort to get foreign firms to set up operations there.

Direct flights

One company that is keen to start operations in Iraq is the British airline BMI, its chied Executive is Nigel Turner and he wants to set up a direct flight from London to Baghdad.

Economic changes

For an overview of the situation in Iraq, Business Daily turned to two experts.

Michael Wareing, chief executive of the global accountancy company, KPMG, who is also the British Prime Minister's economic envoy to Iraq., and Dr Sami al-Araji, who is the chairman of Iraq's National Investment Commission.

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