DHL holds Iraq update

The regional operation of global air express provider DHL, has held an exclusive seminar in Dubai, for its UAE clients looking for an insight into the feasibility of potential business opportunities in Iraq.

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By  Paul Barthram Published  September 15, 2003

Regional air express provider DHL, has held an exclusive seminar for its UAE clients looking for an insight into the feasibility of potential business opportunities in Iraq.

Staged at Dubai's Fairmont Hotel in September, DHL-which has been operating in Iraq since the end of April-along with business consultants Balloch and Roe used the seminar to answer some of the growing questions and concerns from the local business community who have become increasingly keen to understand the physical and financial needs of operating in the post sanctions era.

"Since sanctions against Iraq lifted there have been a growing number of questions posed from UAE business people who want to know more," said David Wild, general manager, for DHL in the UAE.

"As a direct result of these enquires and because of DHL's first hand experience in Iraq we wanted to share the latest information on the opportunities in the country and how DHL can help realise client's business aspirations there,'' Wild added.

Since May this year DHL has reported many account holders from the UAE actively shipping into Iraq. The company says as further opportunities within the country unfold, it will scale its operations to meet future customer demands efficiently.

Wild said that while opportunities had increased since the suspension of tariffs and duties for goods entering or leaving Iraq by the Coalition Provisional Authority, the company saw potential growth in the country not happening over night.

"It is clear that there is some way to go in rebuilding the country, but the future growth, prosperity and opportunity for business in Iraq is evident. Iraq remains a country with proven wealth potential," said Wild.

Guests at the seminar also heard how the Trade Bank of Iraq has been established separately to provide financial and related services to facilitate the import and export of goods and services to and from Iraq.

"This will dramatically bolster confidence between trading partners that funds will be received in exchange for goods delivered. General economic recovery and reform programs are gathering pace to rapidly establish a competitive private sector," Wild added.

"Economic reform will be an ongoing project covering current policies, laws, regulations and institutions and massive support is being provided to create a business environment that is both sustainable and appealing to foreign investment and trade.

"As a business looking to expand and invest into Iraq it is clear that although major problems will be prevalent for months to come, the business support available is real and valuable," said Wild.

With the establishment of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), and many political and economic decisions being made with regards to Iraq's future at this time, explaining the most recent development on the ground at the seminar was DHL's country manager in Iraq, Pete Toghill.

"Trade finance is improving with the Export Import Bank considering applications under its working capital guarantee programme for subcontractors to provide goods and services to Iraq. A Business Support and Information Centre has also been based in Baghdad to provide a link between foreign investors and Iraqi business people as well as a forum for Iraqis to advise on their business needs," said Toghill.

"The support structures to facilitate business in Iraq is being developed and implemented to encourage commerce today and in the future. Although practical barriers are evident the support to overcome them as swiftly as possible already exists," Toghill added.

Toghill said the physical infrastructure constitutes a major barrier to normal business activity although the work needed is in itself a major investment opportunity.

DHL was one of the first express and logistics company to operate in Iraq following the lifting of sanctions. Recently it consolidated its operations in the company by expanding its air and road operations to and within Iraq. This is in addition to the three weekly flights currently operating between Bahrain and Baghdad.

"The country is only at the beginning of a long journey of restructure and recovery and business requirements will change rapidly. There are a number of key areas where opportunities exist for UAE companies," concluded Wild.

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