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Cablegate: Iraq/Iran: Iran Makes Big Showing at Baghdad Trade

VZCZCXRO2513
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDIR RUEHIHL RUEHKUK RUEHTRO
DE RUEHGB #2960 3121233
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 081233Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5370
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 002960

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL BEXP BTIO IR IZ
SUBJECT: IRAQ/IRAN: IRAN MAKES BIG SHOWING AT BAGHDAD TRADE
FAIR

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Among the nearly 400 firms present at the
2009 Baghdad International Fair that kicked off on November
1, 51 were from Iran; making it the largest single delegation
among the 32 countries in attendance. With annual trade
between Iran and Iraq estimated at USD 4 billion (up 30
percent since 2008), Iran,s dominant presence underscores
the country,s continued (and growing) focus on Iraq as a
viable market for Iranian goods and services. It faces
serious competition, however, from other foreign competitors,
especially Turkey. END SUMMARY
2. (U) The Baghdad International Fair kicked off on November
1, continuing GOI efforts to attract foreign investment to
Iraq. Iran was one of 32 countries at the fair and had 51
companies present, the largest contingent among the
approximately 400 companies in attendance. Iranian Ambassador
to Iraq Hassan Kazemi-Qomi sounded a positive note about the
prospects for international investment in Iraq, commenting to
the press that the fact that the fair is being held despite
the October 25 bombings demonstrates the deep interest of
foreign investors in the Iraqi market. Iranian companies in
the fields of medicine, construction, textiles, engineering
services, food processing, and other areas were present at
the event, Qomi told Iranian press.
3. (U) The ten-day trade show focuses on Construction and
Foreign Investment, and is the first international fair to
be held in Baghdad since 2002. It follows the U.S.-Iraq
Business and Investment Conference in Washington October
20-21, and precedes one scheduled for November 5-6 in Berlin.
Other countries heavily represented at the fair were Turkey,
France, and Brazil. The GOI paved the way for European
participation in the fair in early October, when it dropped a
condition requiring participating companies to pledge to
boycott Israel. According to press reports, on November 2
French design firm Aeroports de Paris International signed a
28 million Euro contract to design the Middle Euphrates
Airport to serve the Shi,a holy cities of Najaf and Karbala,
according to press.
4. (SBU) COMMENT: The high level of Iranian participation in
this trade fair shows Iran,s continued efforts to expand its
economic ties with ) and influence over ) Iraq. The
IRIG,s enthusiasm notwithstanding, it is unclear what
contracts or agreements may result from Iran,s strong
showing. Iranian press outlets often exaggerate the
significance and finality of trade and contractual
discussions, not to mention the quality of Iranian goods.
Latest estimates indicate that trade between Iran and Iraq
continues to grow and is approximately USD 4 billion, with
Iranian imports representing approximately 48 percent of
Iraq,s imports. However, presence does not necessarily
translate into unlimited opportunity for Iranian firms, who
continue to face growing foreign competition, most notably
from Turkey. Due to security concerns, there was no U.S.
participation at the fair. END COMMENT
HILL

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