U.S. Trade and Development Agency Backs Rehabilitation of
ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA (February 2, 2004) -- Reconstruction of Iraq's railways
was the focus of a U.S. business briefing held today designed to bring Iraqi
railways officials together with U.S. suppliers of rail equipment and
technology. The event was sponsored by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA)
and was held at the agency's headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. The event
attracted participation by more than 75 U.S. business representatives.
"USTDA is well suited to provide assistance in Iraq, having built a solid record
of rapid response to post-conflict situations in the Balkans in the 1990s and
most recently in Afghanistan," said USTDA Director Thelma J. Askey in opening
remarks at the briefing.
"American companies have expertise and technology that can make important
contributions to the economic development of Iraq. By bringing Iraqi officials
together with American companies, our hope is to encourage U.S. private sector
participation in the reconstruction process."
During the briefing, Iraqi officials presented an overview of the reconstruction
needs in Iraq's rail sector and met with U.S. firms in one-on-one meetings.
"This event provided us with a valuable opportunity to learn about the latest
U.S. rail equipment and technology," said Salam Jabur Salom, Director General of
Iraq Republic Railways. "This information will be extremely helpful to us as we
seek to establish a world class rail transportation system in Iraq."
Other members of the delegation from Iraq Republic Railways include Matti Yacoub
Matti, Director of Operations and Transportation; Fahmi A. Shabaan, Director of
Data Systems; Hakim Jasim Hussain, Director of Maintenance of Way; Najah M.
Karim, Director of Mechanical and Electrical; and Mohammad Ali Hashim, Area
Mr. Gordon Mott, Senior Rail Advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority
(CPA), accompanied the delegation. "Reconstruction of the rail sector is
critical for Iraq to reach its economic potential," said Mr. Mott. "Over the
past several months that I have been working with Iraq's rail officials, I have
been impressed with their competence to develop and implement a strategy to meet
Iraq's rail transportation needs."
Currently, the Iraqi rail system lacks the tools, machinery and spare parts
necessary to maintain equipment. Much of the rolling stock is out of service due
to lack of spare parts or the need to repair damage caused by looting. The track
system is currently in a state of disrepair. Moreover, the lack of a signals and
communications network is a safety risk and limits the system's capacity.
Additional needs exist in the area of repairing and acquiring locomotives, rail
cars, intermodal facilities and equipment.
Under the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act (P.L. 108-106), $210 million
has been allocated for the reconstruction of the Iraqi railway sector. Export
opportunities for U.S. firms exist in the areas of reconstructing and upgrading
rail track systems, track maintenance equipment, procuring and refurbishing
rolling stock, intermodal and container handling equipment, rail control and
signaling equipment, and communications and information technology.
The Iraqi delegation is in the United States on a USTDA-funded orientation visit
to view U.S. equipment and technology in operation. To date, the delegation has
visited Chicago, Illinois, and Omaha, Nebraska, for site visits and meetings
with U.S. railroad companies, as well as U.S. railway equipment suppliers.
Subsequent to today's USTDA business briefing, the delegation will conduct two
days of meetings in Washington, D.C., with the Federal Railway Administration;
financial institutions, including the Export-Import Bank of the United States,
the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the World Bank; and other
The U.S. Trade and Development Agency advances economic development and U.S.
commercial interests in developing and middle-income countries. The agency funds
various forms of technical assistance, feasibility studies, training,
orientation visits and business workshops that support the development of a
modern infrastructure and a fair and open trading environment. USTDA's strategic
use of foreign assistance funds to support sound investment policy and
decision-making in host countries creates an enabling environment for trade,
investment and sustainable economic development. In carrying out its mission,
USTDA gives emphasis to economic sectors that may benefit from U.S. exports of
goods and services.