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Cablegate: Jordan's Iraq Reconstruction Conference a Hot

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS AMMAN 003190

SIPDIS

STATE PASS USTR FOR NED SAUMS
COMMERCE FOR DAS MOLLY WILLIAMSON
OSD FOR ORHA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD EINV EAID IZ JO
SUBJECT: JORDAN'S IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION CONFERENCE A HOT
TICKET

REF: AMMAN 2998

1. (u) Summary: Surprising local organizers, reservations
for a June 5 Iraq Reconstruction conference are flooding in
from throughout the region. Confirmed bookings have already
exceeded the organizers' rosiest predictions, even with a
sticker price three times the going rate for conferences in
Amman. Excellent word of mouth and a speakers list that
includes most major Iraq contractors, ORHA officials, and
international relief agencies have combined to generate
interest in the conference. The intense interest reflects an
almost bottomless demand in the private sector for
information about the contracting process and about
commercial opportunities in Iraq. End Summary.

CONFERENCE COMES OF AGE

2. (u) As reported reftel, Jordan's AmCham, JABA, has been
working with three sister associations to organize a
conference on Iraq reconstruction. The one-day conference,
originally planned as a modest gathering to listen to USAID
officials responsible for Baghdad describe the contracting
process, has quickly blossomed into an ambitious program
touching on all aspects of reconstruction and business
opportunities in Iraq. The program will also address
Jordan's comparative advantages as a gateway to Iraq and as a
source for partnerships with foreign investors who want a
knowledgeable local interlocutor to represent their interests
and get them into the Iraq market.

IMPRESSIVE SPEAKERS LIST

3. (u) JABA has recruited speakers from the senior ranks of
the GOJ, the Ambassador, and the Jordanian Ambassador in
Washington (who will appear live via digital video conference
to close the program) for different program sessions. In
addition, they have commitments from ORHA's economic
development team, USAID officials responsible for Iraq, and
representatives from Bechtel, ABT, Creative Associates,
Parsons-Brinkerhoff, UNDP, WFP, WHO, Halliburton, and the
McKinsey Group to present at the conference.

INTEREST OVERWHELMING

4. (u) Organizers originally planned for 200-400 attendees.
They received over 100 confirmations the day the conference
was announced. As of May 28, with over a week to go before
the conference, over 430 confirmations have been received.
In addition to many key Jordanian businesses, reservations
have come in from Dubai, Kuwait, Bulgaria, and other
countries, and JABA has received expressions of interest from
businesses in the West Bank, Israel, and Egypt, among others.
Attendees seem undaunted by the price tag - at $134 for
organization members and $261 for non-members, about three
times the going rate for such events in Amman.

COMMENT

5. (u) The intense interest generated by this conference
surprised virtually everyone involved. Local businesses have
expressed frustration since combat operations ended in Iraq
over the lack of information about business and contracting
opportunities, expectations, and procedures. This conference
should help to address some of those questions, and with luck
will generate interest in Jordan as a gateway to Iraq. The
sizable positive response from throughout the region and
beyond also hints at the voracious demand for information
that will likely continue in the region for the foreseeable
future.

6. (u) We will be working with the GOJ and private sector
following the conference to explore ways to capitalize on the
success of the June 5 event - through trade missions,
investment promotion conferences in other regional capitals
(modeled on the successful FTA promotional events from
December 2002), and similar follow up.
GNEHM

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