The Bush administration, trying to attract companies into Iraq in order to rebuild the economy, said the country offers numerous investment opportunities even in the face of continuing security risks.
“We are getting lots of good feedback from companies from around the world that are going in there and beginning to set up businesses,” Commerce Secretary Don Evans said in an interview with The Associated Press. “There are small pockets where terrorists attack and that is what you see on television and the news, but you have to step back and realize that 95 percent of the country is a secure environment,” Evans said in the interview.
He said that despite the security threats, many companies from the United States and other nations were eager to set up operations in Iraq. “Business conditions are improving every day in Iraq, creating a greater opportunity for U.S. businesses to explore virtually an untapped market,” said Evans.
The Commerce Department held a “Doing Business in Iraq” conference with over five hundred companies participating, including a number of Fortune 500 enterprises, have participated to learn more about how to set up operations in Iraq.
Among the companies were the Boeing Co., Caterpillar Inc., DaimlerChrysler, Microsoft, IBM, Motorola, Nortel Networks, Procter & Gamble Co. and engineering giants Bechtel and Fluor.
Evans said Iraq was doing its best to offer a friendly climate for foreign investment by allowing 100 percent foreign ownership of a business in Iraq, offering low corporate taxes and promising a well-educated work force. The secretary said multinational companies he has spoken to “tell me that their Iraqi workers are among the very best they have in the world.”
Evans, who made an official tour of Iraq last October, said he was impressed with the free-market spirit already in evidence. He said many business executives had told him the same thing. “There are literally thousands of companies that have gone in there and have started to look and establish the relationships they need” to set up operations, Evans said.