نظم المجلس الهولندي للتعاون التجاري ال NCH زيارة رسمية الى العراق من خلال وفد تجاري مؤلف من 7 شركات متخصصة في قطاعات ادارة المياه للفترة من 17-22/9/2011، وترأس المهمة السفير الهولندي في بغداد سعادة السفير يارون رودنبرخ .
زار الوفد بغداد والبصرة والنجف واجرى الوفد العديد من اللقاءات مع الوزارات والجهات المعنية ذات الصلة (وزارة الموارد المائية و الهيئة الوطنية للاستثمار). وقد سجل الوفد انطباعاته الايجابية للزيارة، متوقعاً اسهامه في المزيد من المشاريع المستقبلية في العراق بعد التجربة الناجحة لاتساق الشركات الهولندية والعراقية في هذه النشاطات.
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Article published in e-magazine ‘world business’, the 2-weekly email magazine of Agentschapnl
Rebuilding Iraq is starting
An entrepreneur in Iraq, it’s very well possible. In the Netherlands we are even behind countries like Germany, England, France and the United States. One of the reasons for it is that we are relatively scared. Unjustly so, think Marloes Borsboom, Annemiek van Waarden and Jeroen Roodenburg, respectively region manager Middle East at the NCH, entrepreneur in Sulaymanya, and Ambassador in Baghdad. Doing business in Iraq, what should you think about?
The Netherlands is more scared than other countries
“It is quite exiting, being an entrepreneur in Iraq, but there are mostly etnical problems that have not much to do with foreigners”, Borsboom explaines. “The country is very stable compared to other countries in the region and very rich because of the oil-exports. There are many other countries, we from the Netherlands are relatively late. That’s because of our fears, you could say that we are more scared than other countries.”
Roodenburg adds: “The Netherlands has a good name here, we provide quality. The current governments appreciate that we have supported Iraq during difficult years, military as well as politically and economically. Iraqi’s are hoping that we from the Netherlands keep pushing on. Twenty to thirty years of wars have left their marks. Rebuilding is starting now, so Iraq needs a lot of knowledge, infrastructure and technology. And there is money available because of oil and gas profits. In the next five years billions of investments are needed.”
Roodenburg after one month of being Ambassador is able to give an accurate enumeration of sectors that are developing. An overview:
• Oil and gas – Iraq wants to go from 2.5 to 8 million barrels in the next seven years, together with foreign parties.
• Agriculture – Along the Euphrates and the Tigris there is a lot of fertile soil. Also the Kurdish region has a lot of potential.
• Water sector – Think of management, irrigation, dredging, dams, water purification. Salting up in the rivers for example is a problem. And at the moment there is still a lot of waste of water, which makes the ground water level go down.
• Infrastructure – Iraq has major plans for building houses, airports, ports, pipelines and oil terminals at sea, but also plans for making the current infrastructure better. Travelling safely.
Annemiek van Waarden and her business partner Tessa van Gemert for the last four years has been growing appels, pears, nectarines, cherries and peaches in Iraq. She thinks that first of all the negative travelers advice to Iraq should be abolished: “The fact that there is still a negative travelers advice to Iraq I think is incomprehensible. You can very easily fly to the North of Iraq now. I always say: if two women can be in Iraq, without a headscarf by the way, it is just safe. I haven’t felt unsafe here for a moment.” Borsboom: “Around Baghdad there are still risks, but other regions are as good as safe.” Roodenburg: “The Kurdish region indeed is very well able to visit.”
Not the safety, but the finding of trustworthy business partner, that seems to be the biggest problem. Van Waarden: “We have also had to learn from our mistakes. The fact is that some people just do not mean well, they have another agenda. But that is the same all over the world, that’s the way it is. Still over here it is all more complicated and not transparent, that also counts for the banking system. In that way it is not easy to transfer money to the Netherlands. To the ABN Amro and the ING it is possible, but the Rabobank will always send the money back. Actually I have no idea why. It is quite complicated when you are in agriculture, because we buy a lot of material in the Netherlands.
The business manners in Iraq are like other countries, according to Roodenburg. “For doing business also here the three P’s count: patience, perseverance and politeness. Especially politeness is essential here. Iraqi’s are very proud of the current development in their country, so be respectful of the culture.” Typically Iraqi Van Waarden thinks is that the Iraqi hardly have an eye for quality. “That is because they don’t really know it. I sometimes think: how can you buy such terrible tomatoes, while we can make first class ones? So you first have to think if the market will want what you produce? I was speaking yesterday to a Libyan lady who gets good draining materials from Spain. But the Iraqi government says: That quality is to good, get the cheaper ones from Jordan. While the pipes from Spain will last for fifteen years and the ones from Lebanon only for five.”
Tips for doing business in Iraq
• Borsboom: "The smaller your company is, the easier it is to start in Iraq. Big companies have more rules to follow, and also the matter of insurance is more complicated.
• Roodenburg: "A visit to the country of course is the best. For information beforehand you can contact the Chamber of Commerce in your region, the Dutch Embassy in Baghdad, and AgentschapNL.
• In Iraq itself there are also a lot of agencies and ‘national investment commissions’. Take part in missions and fairs. In November for example there are the Baghdad International Trade Fair and the Iraq Agro-Food 2011, where the Netherlands will also be represented with a pavilion.
• Van Waarden: "Rules change constantly. Therefore hire a good local advocate. And train people yourself, because it is difficult to find well trained personnel. Get in touch with me or just come and have a look around in Iraq.”