The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ficci pins high hopes on Iraq rebuild plan

New Delhi, Oct. 7 (PTI): Indian companies could get major sub-contracts in Iraq reconstruction projects worth $20 billion next year, according to Ficci.

“Indian companies would have to be there and interact with the US companies, as well as, Iraqi, Kuwaiti and Jordanians for sub-contracts as these companies would be getting majority of the contracts,” chairman of Ficci’s India-Iraq JBC, Anil Aggarwal told newspersons here on the sidelines of Focus: Iraq conference.

He said Indians had the added advantage of being preferred by Iraqis compared with Germans and British.

Currently there are around 40 Indian companies present in Iraq, including Bhel, ONGC, RITEs and other private exporters.

Aggarwal said the Rebuild Iraq 2004 expo was being organised by Ficci in Kuwait, which would help Indian companies explore business opportunities in the region.

“The event would give a good opportunity for Indian companies to enter the Iraqi market and to showcase their products and technologies,” he said.

Addressing the conference, external affairs ministry official R. M. Abhyankar said India has already committed $6-7 million for construction of a maternity and paediatric hospital in Najaf in Iraq.

Leader of the 8-member Iraqi delegation, Yousif M Abdul Rahman al Ani said though Iraq was facing some problems due to its low revenues, “it is expected that in the long run Iraq will not have any difficulties in financing its development projects”.

There was an increased demand for medical equipment and pharmaceuticals in Iraq, Abhyankar said, adding the business houses should “not strictly go by commercial considerations” but add a humanitarian element to trade.

Aggarwal said Indian companies would have to address issues like banking and introduction of the new currency in Iraq before making long-term investments.

Al Ani said the new economic policy is based on free economy and measures have been taken by the government to improve the performance and efficiency of both private and public sectors. Referring to the new foreign investment regulations, Al Ani said “this will permit foreign investments and joint ventures in Iraq”.

“The best prospect for Indian firms in the new term, in addition to supply of different commodities, may include agricultural products and equipment, heavy machinery, health-care products. They can also supply pharmaceuticals, oilfields and refineries equipment, electronics and communication equipment, computers and other high-technology goods and services,” he added.

He also invited Indian companies to participate in the Baghdad international trade fair to be held in April 2004.

Charge d’ affairs of US embassy, Robert Blake, said Indian firms were well positioned to benefit from the new opportunities in Iraq.

He lauded India’s announcement of $20 million support to Iraq and the move to build the hospital.

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