ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency

REMOVAL: US President Barack Obama said earlier in the year that Iraqis must take control of their own destiny as the US withdraws combat forces over the next 18 months, removing all troops by the end of 2011.
As Iraq gets back up on its feet, Turkey, like many other countries, will be there to snatch any investment opportunities that result.
To that end, a Turkish company is organizing the first fair in Iraq following its occupancy by the United States. Some 75 Turkish firms and 100 businesspeople will participate in the Baghdad Construction, Turkish Construction, Construction Machines, Construction Equipment and Electricity Fair, which will be held between Sept. 27 and 29.
Participants in the fair, which is being organized by the Forum Fairs and Promotions Corporation, will all be trying to grab a piece of the country’s $25 billion construction-materials market.
The fair will include seminars about investment opportunities as well as exclusive meetings held by construction, electricity and shopping-mall general directorates of government-owned companies.
In addition to Turkish businesspeople, the chairs of some 18 chambers of commerce that are members of the Federation of Iraqi Chambers of Commerce will attend the event. The fair will also include workshops with the participation of chamber members and private sector representatives.
Noting the importance of the Iraqi construction sector, Bilgin Aygül, the chief executive officer of Forum Fairs and Promotions said, “The country grabs the entire world’s attention with its potential of construction and infrastructure worth $50 billion over the next two years.”
Turkish companies that will attend the fair include Eczacıbaşı, Temsa, Hakan Plastik, Kardemir, Polisan, Yol Yapı Kimyasalları, Türk Kablo, Ege Plastik, Kalyon İnşaat, Mardin Boru Sanayi, Yılmazlar Kablo, Söğütsen Seramik, Arı Arıtma and As Karo.
“In 2008, the trade volume between Iraq and Turkey was $5.2 billion. While Turkey’s exports to many other countries declined amid the global turmoil, the country’s exports to Iraq increased,” Aygül said. “That trend has prolonged well into this year. In the first three months of 2009, Turkey’s exports to Iraq have reached $1.3 billion.”
Turkey mainly exports food products, electric machines, household goods, construction materials, textiles, road machinery and auxiliary equipment to Iraq.
“There are positive developments in Iraq. The country will soon begin to breath again. Before the war, Iraq’s economy was a state-based economy, but now the country’s economy is turning into a private sector-based economy,” Aygül said.
The incentives provided by the government to attract international investors have also been paying off, the Forum Fairs CEO said, adding that many Central Asian countries, as well as those in Europe and the Far East, have been seeking ways to enter this new market.