U.S. Firms Ready To Grasp Business Opportunities In Iraq

By Agence France-Presse Members of leading U.S. companies said in Madrid on Oct. 23 they believed the situation in Iraq had improved to the extent there were burgeoning business opportunities in the war-scarred country. John Disharoon, director of public relations for construction and energy firm Caterpillar, which went into Iraq when 13 years of United Nations sanctions ended earlier this year, said he was optimistic a climate conducive to business was swiftly emerging. "Certain deals have been closed," he said on the fringes of a two-day donors' conference on reconstruction aid for Iraq. "Security is a permanent concern but we think we're further toward that today than we were six months ago." Disharoon said the donors' conference was a useful sounding board of Iraqi business opinion. "It's important for me to know first-hand from ministers what their needs are," he explained. Tim McBride, vice president of corporate strategy at DaimlerChrysler, was similarly optimistic. "In our view we can be a partner with Iraq," said McBride, though he conceded the process could take a decade before cooperation "pays off in the business sense." But taking a long-term view, he added: "Any place where there's the opportunity to sell vehicles we've got to look at it closely. It's a good opportunity to do good business. McBride said his company would be happy to do business even before the formation of a new, democratically elected Iraqi government. "I don't see us as having to wait until the provisional government is replaced by something else," he said. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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