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IRAQ: New Call for Help to Rebuild Iraq

Hundreds of firms have headed for Jordan for the latest in a string of conferences intended to drum up business for Iraq's reconstruction.

BBC
April 4th, 2005

Hundreds of firms have headed for Jordan for the latest in a string of conferences intended to drum up business for Iraq's reconstruction.

In a statement, the conference's organisers said rebuilding the country would cost upwards of $60bn (32bn) over the next few years.

But security is still a problem, and it remains unclear when funds will arrive.

The US has spent only 20% of the $18.6bn allocated for reconstruction, of which half has paid for security.

Other pledges from Europe, Japan and elsewhere total some $13bn.

Caution

The 980 companies exhibiting at the four-day Rebuild Iraq 2005" in Amman come from 44 different countries, many from the Arab world.

They range from suppliers of sophisticated telecoms network equipment to makers of irrigation pumps and stationery.

The variety of goods and services on offer underscores the depths of Iraq's needs in rebuilding after 12 years of sanctions and two years of internal violence.

"Emerging Iraq is in desperate need of a full range of infrastructure products, services and systems, including hospital and security equipment, medicines, road and rail machinery, oil production tools, and finance and telecom systems," the organisers said in a statement.

The ongoing conflict between insurgents on one side, and US-led forces and Iraq's own nascent security services on the other - with daily bombs, casualties and kidnappings - is still putting off foreign firms from getting involved.

"We're not sure about venturing into the Iraqi market at the moment," said one Italian contractor present, Antonio Magurno.

"We will see after the fair. The future must be changed."

The conference comes less than two months after a US Senate panel heard accusations that the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) which ran Iraq till the middle of 2004 had been profligate with the resources available for reconstruction and government.

Its programme had been a "scandal", senators said, after a former CPA official said it had suffered financial and administrative chaos reminiscent of the "Wild West".





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