The Iraqi government is making the rounds, ahem, politely asking for regional investment, according to Gulf News:
Speaking at the First Iraq Business and Investment Conference, [Iraqi vice-president Dr Adel Abdul] Mehdi said a resurgent Iraq offers great opportunities to both regional and global investors. “There is a huge market supported by a population base of close to 30 million people. The country faces shortages in every sector of the economy, which guarantees adequate demand for all types of enterprises,” he said.
“Risks in Iraq will be abundantly rewarded,” he said.
You mean risks like these?
So, is the hard-sell working? Not according to Jason Hyland, leader of the U.S. Provincial Reconstruction Team in Ninewah province in northern Iraq. “No, we’re not seeing a lot of investment. I think security is the barrier that has to be overcome for foreign investors to come in here.”
But Iraqi markets are improving, at least on the provincial level. Take Ninewah, for instance. “We have a pharmaceutical company here,” Hyland says. “I’ve been really impressed. They’re clearly marketing very successfully to Iraqi consumers. That’s a place that’s going to do well with just a little outside support.”
And what’s it going to take to get that “outside support”? Better security, and — perhaps more importantly — a perception of better security. Oh, and an airport. Mosul used to have the second-busiest airport in Iraq after Baghdad, but these days it’s a U.S. airbase. Hyland says re-opening it to commerical traffic is a possibility.
In the meantime, Iraqi markets are mostly local markets. “The hope and expectation is that people doing business here will be able to expand beyond Ninewah. We’re in a transitional phase. There’s still a lot of growth to be done.”