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British firms missing out on Iraqi rebuild work

US AND Japanese firms are recruiting British-based Iraqi engineers to help them win reconstruction work, Iraqi professionals claimed this week.

'US firms are training British Iraqis ready to go out to Iraq, ' said Iraqi Reconstruction Group (IRG) executive member Abbas Al-Hussaini. The move is calculated to give them an advantage over slower moving British firms.

The IRG respresents Iraqi professionals from all sectors, most of whom are expats.

The British based Iraqi community numbers 600,000 and is the largest outside Iraq. Some 2,000 of these are engineers who have local knowledge and language skills coupled with an understanding of Western construction practices.

But Al-Hussaini warned that British firms will miss out on what is a natural commercial advantage unless they act quickly.

'Japanese firms are set to sponsor a conference in Baghdad in August. This will win them access to the UN, Iraqi government ministers and all aspects of the Iraqi construction industry, ' said Al-Hussaini.

A similar IRG conference is planned for this summer in London. 'But UK firms must show they are interested in this opportunity if it is going to happen, ' he added.

Al-Hussaini has been invited to contribute to a British Consultants & Construction Bureau (BCCB) working group that will visit Iraq shortly.

'We will arrange access to interim government ministers, civil servants and industry professionals for the BCCB, ' he said.

IRG also plans to open three offices in Baghdad, Basra and Mosul within weeks.


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