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February 11, 2004
  Contact: Curt Cultice
(202) 482-0903

Commerce Department to Lead U.S. Tour Promoting Business Opportunities in Iraq

Sessions will provide local business communities with an overview of the investment and reconstruction opportunities in Iraq and Afghanistan

Commerce Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance and Chairman of the Iraq and Afghanistan Investment and Reconstruction Task Force William H. Lash III today announced that the Department will travel across the country to promote trade and investment opportunities in Iraq. Over the next several weeks, Lash and Susan Hamrock, Senior Advisor for Iraq Policy at Commerce, will travel to 12 cities to discuss trade assistance programs and government support for private investment.

The announcement comes on the heels of a successful business conference in Washington, D.C. where nearly 500 U.S. firms showed up to learn more about doing business in Iraq. Commerce Secretary Don Evans hosted the conference.

"Business conditions are improving every day in Iraq, creating a greater opportunity for U.S. businesses to explore a virtually untapped market," Evans noted Wednesday. "The country is taking the appropriate steps to compete in the global business arena and is showing remarkable progress in establishing institutions and creating environments conducive to modern commerce."

The World Trade Organization's approval of Iraq's observer status symbolizes the global community's confidence in Iraq. For the business community it shows that Iraq is moving towards a transparent and predictable marketplace.

"Iraq has taken great strides toward creating a friendly environment for foreign investment," Lash said. "Iraq and Afghanistan present some of the greatest economic opportunities of our time. Companies need to take a hard look at the emerging opportunities."

Local businessmen and women and trade associations are invited to attend a session in their area. For more information on a specific seminar, please contact Blake Holcomb at 202-482-0981. (See attached list of cities and dates for seminars).

"Doing Business in Iraq" seminars

Assistant Secretary William Lash will host the following seminars:

February 24 Cleveland, Ohio
February 25 Kansas City, MO
March 23 Detroit, MI
March 24 Minneapolis, MN
March 25 New Orleans, LA
May 6 Houston, TX

Susan Hamrock, Senior Advisor for Iraq Policy, will host the following seminars:

March 9 Los Angeles, CA
March 10 San Diego, CA
March 11 San Francisco (Bay Area), CA
March 18 Boston, MA
March 19 New York, NY
April 13 Chicago, IL

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