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Cablegate: Security Hampers, but Does Not Quash, Baghdad 9-Nissan

VZCZCXRO3452
RR RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #2979/01 2600307
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 160307Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9430
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 002979

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE ALSO FOR EEB AND NEA/I

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EINV ETRD IZ
SUBJECT: Security Hampers, But Does Not Quash, Baghdad 9-Nissan
District's Business Development

1. (U) Summary: On August 29-30, Baghdad EPRT-2 funded the 9-Nissan
Trade Show, which was organized by the Iraqi American Chamber of
Commerce and Industry (IACCI), at the Palestine Hotel. This was
Baghdad's fourth district-level trade show this year, all organized
as spin-offs of the February B2B Business Expo. Seventy-seven
businesses and 17 NGOs registered for the show. A significant
number of the participants indicated to us that their businesses
were growing and prospering despite continuing problems with
electricity and, to some extent, with security. This was a big
event for a district that was the scene of significant fighting only
a few months ago, with several local radio and newspaper outlets
providing good media coverage. End Summary.

The 9-Nissan Trade Show
-----------------------

2. (U) On August 30, representatives from Baghdad EPRT-2, Senior
Commercial Officer (SCO), Baghdad PRT, and ECONOFF attended the
9-Nissan Trade Show at the Palestine Hotel. Baghdad EPRT-2 funded
the show, which was organized by the Iraqi American Chamber of
Commerce and Industry (IACCI) (Note: not affiliated with the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce). This was Baghdad's fourth district-level
trade show this year, all organized as spin-offs of the February B2B
Business Expo. (The others were organized by EPRT-2 in Karada in
May and Rusafa in June and by EPRT-3 in Adahmiya in June.) These
trade shows are intended to highlight local businesses in each
district and provide a forum for contacts among businesses and
discussion between the business community and government agencies.
They are also designed to build up momentum city-wide for another
B2B citywide trade show in December, which PRT-Baghdad hopes will be
even bigger than the February one.

3. (U) Seventy-seven businesses registered for the show. They
comprised:

29 construction or general Contractors;
17 general trading companies;
8 state-owned or mixed sector enterprises;
6 engineering/design/civil work firms;
5 companies providing sewage or water services;
2 tile businesses;
2 in food production (ice cream, yoghurt, chocolates);
2 furniture vendors;
1 industrial works;
1 paint store;
1 art gallery;
1 transport company;
1 plastics seller; and
1 website designer.

4. (U) In addition, 17 NGOs participated, about the same number that
participated at both the Rusafa and Karada trade shows. The NGOs
came, many of them told us, because they saw the trade show as a
good opportunity to get the word out about their activities and
also, undoubtedly, because they were hoping to find funding sources
(including from the U.S. military or USG). (Note: Many
businessmen/women have NGOs as well, and the line between the two is
often blurred.) IACCI also provided space to the Small Business
Development Center and the Al-Bashaer micro-loan program, both
funded by USAID/Tijara, and had allotted time for them on an
associated conference program. Turnout was good on day one, but on
day two many of the tables were empty. IACCI representative Raad
Omar told us that some of the participants thought the trade show
was supposed to be for one day only.

5. (U) A significant number of the participants indicated to us that
their businesses were growing and prospering despite continuing
problems with electricity and, to some extent, with security. Among
the participants, a stone-tile producer appeared to be entering a
market where Iraqis should have considerable expertise and technical
skills to exploit a market. The clothing manufacturer
representative, Modern Sewing Company, told us the company sourced
textiles from Syria and Turkey and had two factories capable of
employing 6,000 people but, because of security conditions, only had
500 workers. The company specialized in producing uniforms for the
Iraqi government, since it found that it could not produce men's
suits in Iraq for less than the cost of imported equivalents because
of the high cost to transport raw materials and finished goods,
again because of high mark-ups for security. Another family-owned
business imports artificial turf from Turkey and for installation in
parks and schools in Iraq. SCO spoke to sales agents for U.K.
Perkins and U.S. Cummins generators, offering to put them in contact
with other U.S. generator manufacturers and to another sales
representative who, among other products, sells hospital equipment.
After the conference, another participant contacted SCO to be put in
contact with other U.S. manufacturers.

BAGHDAD 00002979 002 OF 002

6. (SBU) Comment: This was a big event for a district that was the
scene of significant fighting only a few months ago. One negative
was the absence of any provincial and city officials, which
unfortunately reinforced the perception of many participants that
the GOI is perpetuating the historical neglect of this relatively
poor and marginalized district. Several local radio and newspaper
outlets provided good media coverage; AP and USA Today reporters
were also present.
CROCKER

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