Doing business in hell

BERLIN/BAGHDAD | | irak

BERLIN/BAGHDAD German businesses and trade associations are increasing their efforts to participate in Iraq's economy which is presently administered by the illegal US occupation. Iraq is considered a ,,lucrative market", offering a ,,large potential for German business."The position of German trade associations is that German investors should secure part of Iraq's privatized enterprises, although this would violate current Iraqi law.

German ,,Middle East experts"and managers describe the situation in Iraq as ,,hellish". ,,The war was bad, but it only scraped Baghdad. This peace is worse,"explains a German engineer. Since the invasion by US troops, Baghdad has become a ,,lawless zone,"administrative offices and ministries were plundered without exception and the telephone net was destroyed. Meanwhile in Baghdad murders, robberies and rapes have increased a hundred fold since before the war, according to the reports of the German economic representatives: ,,At the moment 80 percent of Iraq's population exists beneath the poverty line, youth unemployment is approximately 65 percent. The people have nothing. Only weapons. And those in abundance."

,,Jump into Iraq"

At the same time, a ,,gold rush mentality"is spreading within the German economy. Diverse organizations prepare German enterprises for the tempting business opportunities in the ,,hell"of Iraq which had been declared a free trade zone by the occupation's temporary administration on 8 June and has been considered a ,,booming sellers' market"since: ,,After dictatorship and war everything is lacking in Iraq. Currently one can sell practically anything there."The Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie (BDI - federal association of industry) organized the ,,Gesprächskreis Irak"(discussion circle Iraq). In addition, an ,,Economic Forum Deutschland", which unites managers of high tech industries and representatives of ,,Forschung, Wissenschaft und Politik"(research, science and policy), has started a ,,Taskforce Wiederaufbau Iraq"for members of the German middle sector. The BDI promotes participation in the annual Baghdad trade fair as well as participation in a ,,fact finding mission"to Iraq which the North Africa Middle East Initiative of the German economy (NMI) plans to start, ,,as soon as security permits."

Clearance sale

The German economy's Iraq offensive sets its sight on taking over parts of Iraq's 40 largest companies which are as profitable as possible, and which the temporary administration wants to privatize. Since, according to Iraq's law, only investors from Arabic-speaking states are permitted to invest in Iraq, the German trade associations count on difficulties. The DIHK, when asked, recommended that the German entrepreneurs should transact their investments in Iraq with the use of ,,vehicles"from other Arab-speaking states if an attempt by UN resolution fails to accommodate Iraq's legal position to the needs of western investors. This is the only way to avoid the reversal of the sellout of Iraq's industry by an elected future government of Iraq.

There already

The subsidiary of the German Post AG, DHL, has already arrived in occupied Iraq. The German concern was able to start its business activities in Iraq as the first enterprise of that branch. These already took place during the war: DHL transported the bulk of the soldiers' mail for US troops. In fact, the German concern had performed similar services for the US military already during the campaign in Afghanistan.

See also earlier article Germany as ,,victorious power in Iraq"

Sources:
DHL startet Services im Irak; www.dpwn.de 23.05.2003
Post-AG-Tochter liefert Soldatenbriefe im Irak; Spiegel online 29.06.2003
Geschäfte in der Hölle; Die Welt 01.08.2003
Perspektiven für Geschäfte im Irak; www.dihk.de 01.08.2003
Milliardenmarkt Irak und die deutsche Wirtschaft; www.economic-forum-deutschland.de
Irakische Wirtschaftsvertreter sehen Chancen für deutsche Investitionen bei Privatisierungen; www.ixpos.de 04.08.2003