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Cablegate: Mnd-N Conference Highlights Economic Development Issues

VZCZCXRO1173
RR RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #2953 3101251
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 061251Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5361
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 002953

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/I/ECON

E.O.12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EFIN EAID PGOV PREL IZ
SUBJECT: MND-N CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ISSUES

1. (U) SUMMARY: Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT)
representatives from Kirkuk, Ninewa, Diyala, Erbil, and Salah ad Din
provinces, emboffs, and Multi-National Division-North (MND-N)
discussed local economic development issues at the quarterly
conference held on October 16-17 in Tikrit. Discussions focused on
best practices on promoting economic development in the provinces.
In particular, participants toured the "I-BIZ" business development
incubator that helps Iraqi contractors improve their entrepreneurial
skills. Similar conferences with other MNDs are under
consideration. END SUMMARY.

PRT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS


2. (U) MND-N hosted a conference on October 16-17 that included
MND-N leadership, PRT representatives from Kirkuk, Ninewa, Diyala,
Erbil, and Salah ad Din, and Embassy officers from the Office of
Provincial Affairs (OPA) and ECON. PRTs shared best practices for
promoting economic development in their respective provinces and
sought greater guidance on their specific roles to promote U.S.
trade and investment. PRT Kirkuk briefed on its assistance to a
small entrepreneur in establishing a mobile dairy as well as the
PRT's role in encouraging the formation of women's organizations.
PRT Ninewa cited their province's biggest economic challenge as the
government's inability to execute its budget. The PRT has focused
on grassroots projects to bring Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds together.
PRT Diyala planned to issue between 800-1000 micro-grants over the
next 30 days to vendors affected by a recent market bombing to
prevent loss of employment. PRT Erbil added that some economic
successes in Kurdistan could serve as models for other provinces.
PRT Salah ad Din reported that they will be co-locating their PRT
ECON office with Military ECON offices to enhance coordination.
They hope to place microcredit officers in their small business
development centers to support farmers with juicing and canning
projects.

"I-BIZ" BUSINESS INCUBATOR AT CAMP SPEICHER

3. (U) Conference participants toured the "I-BIZ" business incubator
on the outskirts of Camp Speicher that included approximately 20
Iraqi-owned small and medium businesses under U.S. military
contracts. The "I-BIZ" is designed to enhance entrepreneurial
skills. Participant businesses include cement, gravel, machine
repair, and construction companies. An Iraqi "Souq" market for
local artisans to sell their goods on the base has been established
too.

4. (U) The most successful operation at I-BIZ was the Iraqi Skills
Enhancement Center, where up to one hundred young, unemployed Iraqis
train in carpentry, plumbing, HVAC maintenance, welding, and engine
repair skills. Graduates receive certification from the U.S.
Military and the Iraqi Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in their
trade after completion of a three-month course. KBR hires most
graduates to replace more expensive third-country national laborers.
Camp Speicher is also working with Al Warka Bank to open a branch
near the contracting office and will soon require all suppliers
participating in the I-BIZ program to accept electronic funds
transfer instead of cash payments.

5. (U) Econoffs briefed on Iraq's basic macroeconomic and banking
statistics, the Embassy's organizational structure, and economic
goals identified by the Mission Strategic Plan (MSP) to DOD
personnel and PRT contractors. The PRTs were particularly
interested in how they can help further promote investment deals
following the upcoming investment conference in DC. Emboffs also
briefed on developments in the banking sector, the effect of
Qbriefed on developments in the banking sector, the effect of
security on economic activity, and how PRTs can help foster lending
to businesses in their communities.

6. (U) COMMENT: Embassy OPA Director called the MND-N conference a
best-practices example to encourage civilian-military cooperation at
both the national and local levels. Our PRT and military colleagues
gained a better understanding of the U.S. Mission's larger economic
goals. In turn, they provided emboffs with briefings on economic
development in their locations at the micro level. Emboffs also
gained insight into the implementation of existing Quick Response
Funds (QRF) projects in the field. END COMMENT.

HILL

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