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Cablegate: Turkish Chamber of Commerce Pleased with Baghdad

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

131421Z Feb 04





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: Turkish Union of Chambers (TOBB) advisor
Guven Sak told us February 13 that TOBB was very pleased with
its February 9 visit to Baghdad, and was considering possible
follow-up visits to Kirkuk and perhaps other cities. Sak
expressed appreciation for CPA's and CJTF-7's efforts to
support the visit, including by providing security for the
delegation. TOBB is particularly interested in helping
efforts to develop the Iraqi private sector and in resolving
several "small" problems that currently hinder trade: extra
fees charged on the Iraqi side of Habur Gate; the lack of
security on the roads for Turkish truckers; the lack of
secure parking areas near major cities; and the lack of
secure warehouse for depositing and storing goods. End

2. (SBU) Professor Guven Sak, advisor to the Turkish Union
of Chambers of Commerce and Exchanges (TOBB), gave us a
read-out February 11 on TOBB's February 9 visit to Baghdad.
He said TOBB's leadership was very pleased with the visit,
and expressed particular appreciation for CPA's and CJTF-7's
efforts to support the visit, particularly via provision of
"great" security. Sak said the delegation came away with the
impression thatthe USG has subtly shifted its view of
Turkey's role in Iraq, and now supports a greater Turkish
role in Iraq's economic reconstruction. We responded that
the USG has always welcomed a positive, constructive Turkish
role in Iraqi reconstruction.

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3. (SBU) Sak said the delegation had raised numerous issues
with Ambassador Bremer and others in Baghdad. A high
priority for TOBB is to help develop the Iraqi private
sector. To that end, the delegation had asked CPA for help
in finding a local business executive to head the Iraqi side
of the Turkey-Iraq Business Council. As an immediate
follow-up, a delegation of Turkish suppliers plans to travel
to Baghdad in March to meet with the Iraqi Contractors'
Federation (Sak was not sure if that was the group's official
name). TOBB also understood that CPA had agreed to organize
a meeting in April (also in Baghdad) between Turkish
suppliers and the primary contract winners.

4. (SBU) Sak said the delegation had pushed for the USG to
award at least one primary contract to a Turkish company,
arguing that this would allay continuing Turkish concerns
about whether they were being given a fair shot at contracts.
We responded that this was "old think." TOBB needed to get
away from the notion that contracts should be awarded for
political reasons. The USG had taken numerous steps in
recent months to ensure Turkish companies had every
opportunity to compete for contracts, and Turkish industry
should be confident that it can compete on merit.

5. (SBU) The TOBB delegation, per Sak, pressed for
resolution of four "small" problems that Turks believe are
hindering the developing of Turkish-Iraqi trade:

-- illegal fees being charged Turkish trucks once they pass
through Habur Gate. Sak said officials on the Iraqi side of
the border even had a printed list of the fees to be charged
for various types of cargo. He acknowledging that the
existence of these fees was partly Turkey's fault, as the
Turks had negotiated such a system with the KDP in the "old
days." Still, the systematic collection of such fees along
the Turkish-Iraqi border -- but not on Iraq's other borders
-- constituted a discriminatory trade practice.

-- the continuing lack of security for Turkish truckers as
they drive through northern Iraq to deliver and pick up
goods. Sak suggested that providing Iraqi license plates to
the trucks, if only for the Iraq portion of their journeys,
would help a great deal.

-- the lack of secure parking areas outside large cities.
Without a safe place to stay overnight at their destinations,
Turkish truckers were very hesitant to carry goods more than
a short distance into Iraq.

-- the lack of secure warehouses. Sak argued that, for trade
to develop in central and southern Iraq, it is essential that
the Iraqis/CPA build a network of secure warehouses where
goods can be deposited and stored.

6. (SBU) Sak said the Commander of Coalition Forces in
Kirkuk had invited Turkish businesses to visit Kirkuk to look
at business opportunities. TOBB is now considering whether
and when to visit Kirkuk, as well as other cities to which
they had been invited (Erbil, Basra). We stressed the USG's
interest in efforts to promote Iraqi reconstruction in
general and Turkish-Iraqi economic relations specifically,
but noted that some of the TOBB delegation's actions in
Baghdad -- not sticking to the schedule, adding delegation
members at the last minute, insisting on numerous smoking
breaks -- had not been helpful. Schedule changes and demands
that might be manageable in Istanbul or New York were not
easily managed in Baghdad, and visiting delegations needed to
keep that in mind. Sak acknowledged the point.

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