Viewing cable 03AMMAN2998

03AMMAN29982003-05-21 09:31:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Amman
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A 
¶1.  (u)  The Jordan-American Business Association is putting 
together a program to support efforts by Jordanian companies 
to assist in Iraq reconstruction efforts.  The centerpiece of 
the plan, which envisions a host of activities both to get 
Jordanian companies into Iraq and to sell Jordan as a 
springboard for U.S. companies to enter the Iraqi market, 
will be a reconstruction conference to be held June 5 in 
Amman.  Interest in the local business community for such a 
conference and related activities is high, and such a 
conference should help to put Jordan in the minds of global 
businesses looking for a safe, investor-friendly base from 
which to explore business opportunities in Iraq.  We are 
contacting Washington to discuss ways to support this 
conference, including encouraging U.S. primary contractors 
like Bechtel to participate.  End summary. 
¶2.  (u)  The Jordan-American Business Association (JABA, 
Jordan's AmCham), has been developing a comprehensive program 
to support Iraq reconstruction efforts.  This plan, which 
they have dubbed "JUST for Iraq" (Jordan-US Trade for Iraq), 
has two main goals:  first, to make Jordanian companies aware 
of opportunities in Iraq (both commercial and contracting) 
and to develop the capacity of local firms to take advantage 
of those opportunities; and second, to launch an aggressive 
campaign in the U.S. to "sell" Jordan as a base for U.S. 
companies doing business in Iraq and to promote Jordanian 
companies as potential partners for Iraq business. 
JUST for the Local Market 
¶3.  (u)  To realize the first goal, JABA plans to set up an 
information desk, modeled on the FTA help desk they created 
to support FTA implementation.  This desk will serve as an 
information clearing house for all issues related to Iraq 
reconstruction, including updated information about both 
subcontracting opportunities and procedures under current 
USAID contracts, and about commercial opportunities and 
procedures for conducting private sector trade and investment 
in Iraq.  JABA plans to offer this information as a public 
service to members and non-members alike.  Supporting this 
desk will be a website maintained by JABA with updated news 
and links to all relevant Iraq reconstruction sites (note: 
this site is a duplicate of the site developed by the 
Embassy; once up and running at JABA, the Embassy will 
reroute "hits" on our site to the JABA site.  End note.) 
JABA also plans a series of workshops for interested members 
and paying non-members to teach Jordanian companies how to 
write subcontracting proposals, how to develop contacts in 
Iraq, and the like - a sort of business development unit for 
Jordanian SME's looking to break into the Iraqi market. 
Selling "Jordan, Inc." 
¶4.  (u)  To realize their second goal, JABA is considering 
employing a U.S. consultant to represent Jordan as an 
investment and partnership destination for U.S. companies. 
JABA hopes this consultant will be able to make the rounds 
with the U.S. primary contractors for current USAID 
contracts, with U.S. business associations, and with targeted 
U.S. industry and service sectors, to sell the advantages 
Jordan offers for U.S. businesses looking for local expertise 
in launching business operations in Iraq. 
¶5.  (u)  The plan is to highlight Jordan's close historical 
and cultural ties to Iraq, its ability to communicate in 
Arabic with Iraqi businesses, and its track record as the 
only country in the world that traded with Iraq during the 
sanctions era with international acquiescence - through the 
oil and trade protocol and through ongoing small-scale 
commercial transactions between grain traders in both 
countries.  Other comparative advantages JABA will promote 
will include:  a strong commitment to economic openness and 
reform; several tariff preference programs, especially with 
the U.S., including the FTA, a Bilateral Investment Treaty, 
WTO membership, and one of the region's strongest IPR 
protection policies; internationally-recognized multi-modal 
transportation and logistics support, notably in Aqaba; 
expedited visa services and no need for a local sponsor to 
conduct business in the country (in contrast to most gulf 
countries); relatively inexpensive, high-quality hotels and 
conference facilities (roughly one-third of the cost of 
comparable arrangements in the gulf); fair weather relative 
to the rest of the region; and long experience as a supplier 
of high-end services to the region, including in education, 
engineering, architecture, IT solutions, and consultancy. 
JABA will seek support in this effort from the Jordanian 
Embassy in Washington to further these efforts, and may 
arrange trade delegations to the U.S. (or invite delegations 
to Jordan) in the future. 
Kicking Off a Reconstruction Conference 
¶6.  (u)  To kick off this program, JABA is hosting (along 
with three other local business associations) a day-long 
conference on Iraqi reconstruction.  JABA has been working 
with USAID Amman, FCS, and ECON to develop the program and 
recruit speakers.  They hope to gain support from several key 
U.S. contractors to speak at the conference, notably Bechtel, 
which is already sending speakers to similar conferences in 
Washington, London and Kuwait in the same time frame.  They 
are also reaching out to key NGO's and IO's to speak about 
humanitarian assistance efforts, and are working with the 
Jordanian Embassy in Washington to arrange a digital video 
conference with Ambassador Kawar and select U.S. business 
leaders to talk about future opportunities in Iraq.  There is 
already intense interest for such a conference among the 
Jordanian business community, which has been lamenting for 
weeks the fact that reconstruction conferences appear to be 
springing up all around them, while no similar program has 
been developed yet for Jordan. 
¶7.  (u)  Comment:  Many local businessmen have commented that 
Jordan is a natural gateway to and partner for much of Iraq, 
particularly for Baghdad and western and northern parts of 
the country.  The port of Aqaba, for instance, has 
traditionally been considered a "natural" Iraqi port, and 
will likely be a major conduit for humanitarian, 
reconstruction, and commercial goods into Baghdad and the 
north for the foreseeable future.  In fact, port sources tell 
us 65% of humanitarian assistance to date has transited 
through Aqaba.  Support for this conference will be a shot in 
the arm for JABA, but also for Jordanian businesses trying to 
get the country "on the map" for U.S. primary contractors and 
for potential U.S. commercial partners down the road - and 
ultimately for Iraq as well, by building capacity to trade 
and invest in an important traditional trading partner.  We 
are contacting Washington agencies soon to discuss ways to 
support this conference, including helping JABA recruit 
speakers in the USG and the business community.