Invest in Iraq now or miss out, says US envoy

Thursday, 7 October 2010 23:07 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Baghdad (Reuters): American companies should invest in Iraq now to avoid losing out on opportunities to other international firms, a US envoy leading a trade mission to the investment-starved country said.

Under Secretary of Commerce Francisco Sanchez, in Iraq with a trade mission of 14 US companies, urged corporate leaders to hurry while acknowledging that security concerns remained high.

'The time is now. I think American businesses that want to take advantage of opportunities, if they wait a year, if they wait until everything is in a nice, neat order, then they're going to cede opportunities to businesses from other parts of the world,' Sanchez told reporters in Baghdad.

'Opportunities to create partnerships and to engage is not a year and a half from now, or two years from now where perhaps you'll see a continued reduction in attacks or violence. If you want to really play a role here, you have to be here now.”

Iraq needs investment in almost every sector as it seeks to rebuild itself after decades of war and sanctions. Regional partners Syria and Turkey have strong trade links with Iraq, while countries like China are eager to expand their footprint.

But many international firms remain wary of security in the country, where bombs and attacks are daily occurrences.

The lack of a government seven months after an inconclusive parliamentary election has also raised concerns insurgents would try to exploit the power vacuum.