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“Seize Opportunities In Iraq:” Blair
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair urged British companies to step up their investment in Iraq.
He told the IBBC’s fourth London conference Iraq was likely to be one of the world’s fastest growing economies over the next decade.
However Mr Blair acknowledged parts of the country continued to suffer from terrorism and destabilising political tensions.
Underscoring the security challenges, two car bombs exploded on the day of the conference around Baghdad, killing four people and injuring at least 17.
In his speech, Mr Blair said that Iraq would have economic growth of around 9 percent in 2012, and that its annual oil revenue of around $100 billion per year was predicted to triple by 2020.
Though Mr Blair urged British businesses and foreign investors to seek out opportunities in Iraq, he acknowledged the country still faced many problems.
“The challenges that Iraq still faces are obvious: continuing security problems of terrorism, especially around Baghdad; services and infrastructure still far below what they can and should be; and bureaucracy and corruption,” Mr Blair said.
He added: “Political tensions remain high and often lead to paralysis when the country urgently needs movement. There is also the turmoil in the region, not least in Syria.”
Addressing the strong delegation of businessmen from Basrah he ended his rare speech on Iraq: “And to all of you who have come from Iraq today: welcome and thank you, we will be with you to help build the Iraq that you want.”
Lord Howell of Guildford
Former Minister of State at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Lord Howell said Britain could: “do better “ in trying to win more trade with Iraq. He identified general security issues, legal uncertainties and “infrastructure” bottlenecks as some of the reasons why British companies in general had not rushed in to Iraq.
But he concluded: “Someone once said that it is not what a nation does for itself but by what it does for all humanity that should be its title to honour and glory. That should be our guide as we work together with the Iraqi people on their road to recovery and success.”
Mohammed al Doreki, Iraq Deputy Foreign Minister
His Excellency Mr Al Doreki said he wanted to emphasise good news out of Iraq which he summarised as: a weakening of the insurgency, inflation under control and oil production increasing to record levels.
He added that Iraq was looking for Western business partners. He said links with Britain go back a long way and British firms were very welcome in Iraq.
“The IBBC is a natural forum to bring British and Iraqi businesses together, “ he said
Dara Rashid, Iraq Deputy Labour and Social Affairs Minister
Mr Rashid said Iraq wanted British companies to invest in Iraq and cautioned: “ It will be too late if you don’t start now.”
He added: “ We are waiting for the IBBC to come and give us a hand in building a good infrastructure in Iraq. He said Iraq was fighting terrorism on behalf of the rest of the world and now a democracy had been set up in Iraq he hoped: “ that is the pilot that gets us safely to shore.”
MEDIA SPOTLIGHT ON THE IBBC
Mr Blair’s appearance at an IBBC conference at One Great George Street, London attracted the world’s major news agencies and television stations. Reports appeared in around 150 print outlets worldwide from Britain’s Daily Telegraph to the Washington Post and South China Morning Post. Leading Arab news channels such as Al Jazeera and MBC reported on the conference, as did the Today programme on BBC Radio 4. IBBC’s own news camera was also present and a report will appear on You Tube shortly. We will send the link to members.
THE IBBC’S NOV 6TH CONFERENCE: A HIT WITH SMEs
Dozens of entrepreneurs from the UK’s small to medium enterprises attended the IBBC’s conference on November 6th – the first of its kind aimed at smaller companies with an interest in investing in Iraq.
Afterwards the IBBC heard from attendees who praised the strong line-up of guest speakers and the standard of informative debate on issues including contract enforcement, company registration, direct flights to Iraq from London and accommodation for wives and family.
British Ambassador to Iraq Simon Collis addressed the conference – which was jointly hosted with the UKTI – as did Dr Salar Ameen, Deputy Chairman of Iraq’s National Investment Commission, Jamie Banks immediate past UKTI director in Iraq and Ali Sherwani Business Development Manager, UK Export and Finance,
Mott MacDonald’s Peter Hunt moderated a question and answer session with panellists Sahib Sajjad, FAC Director Saipem, Crispin Cuss, Olive Group, Rasmi Al Jabri, Director General Basrah Engineering Group, Toby Chinn, Associated Director Iraq Control Risks and Jason Rosychuck, Senior Associate Clyde.