Friday, May 8, 2009

UK firms encouraged to rebuild Iraq

The British Government is to step up its campaign to secure Iraqi construction contracts for UK firms. By Mark Lewis

It has developed a guide aimed at helping UK construction firms win contracts, and set up both a National Investment Commission and a Basra Investment Commission to act as points of contact for UK firms seeking Iraqi government contracts.

According to MEED Projects, the research arm of Construction News’ sister title Middle East Economic Digest, some $46 billion (£31bn) worth of reconstruction work is planned to be tendered in the coming months and years to rebuild the war-torn country.

Head of the Middle East Unit at UK Trade and Investment Paul Taylor said Britain’s historic ties with Iraq meant UK contractors were in a strong position to pick up contracts, particularly in the south of the country.

He said: “The strong message we have from [prime minister] Nouri Al-Maliki is that he wants British contractors to be bidding for these contracts.

“And in terms of winning contracts, the locals would feel more strongly about the US in the way that they have engaged in the country, whereas the UK is still regarded very highly.”
A draft copy of the UKTI guide, due out in the summer, reveals that the Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works has a budget of up to$741 million (£497m) and is tendering for around 35 major new water and wastewater treatment plants.

The guide also emphasises the growing importance of the Ministry of Construction and Housing, which is in charge of improving 45,000 km of dilapidated roads in the country.

Rail, aviation and the ports and maritime department are all also seeking to undertake major projects, according to the guide.

On 30 April, at a meeting of 250 UK companies and Iraqi officials in London, Business secretary Peter Mandelson signed a memorandum of understanding with the Iraqi deputy Prime Minister, Barhan Salih, to improve business ties.

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