Monday, April 14, 2003

On the reconstruction front, there were several articles in the Sat, April 12, NY Times. I don't have time to blog them all.

In "Help Is Tied to Approval By the U.N." (online titled "Aid Is Tied to Approval By the U.N."), on page B8, Elizabeth Becker in Washington reports: "Foreign institutions and foreign governments say they may need approval from the United Nations Security Council before they give or lend money to Iraq while it is under military occupation."

She also notes recent efforts to promote debt relief for Iraq, observing that "Some of Iraq's biggest debts are to France and Russia, the two nations that helped sink the second United Nations Security Council resolution sought by the administration before invading Iraq."


Mark Landler, writing from Frankfurt, in a piece titled "German and French Businesses Are Expecting Cold Shoulder," also on page B8, lists several foreign firms that are potential contractors for the postwar reconstruction of Iraq.

Four from Germany: German Water and Energy, which "designs and drills wells for drinking water." Siemens, "the engineering and electronics giant." Hochtief, "the world's fifth-largest construction company." And the MAN group, "which makes trucks and industrial equipment."

Six from France: Alcatel, which "began more than a decade of work on [Iraq's] phone system in the late 1970's" and "estimates the value of the network it built to be about $1 billion now." Lafarge and Saint-Gobain, "both building materials companies." Peugeot and Renault, "the car and truck makers." And TotalFinaElf, "the giant oil company," which "has exclusive rights to develop one of Iraq's largest oil fields, the Majnoon field on the Iranian border."

On top of that, Landler notes, "The Philippine and South Korean governments have indicated that their participation in the United States-led coalition, offering noncombat support like medical teams, is motivated at least in part by hopes that it will open the door for them to benefit from reconstruction contracts."


Going back a few days for more on the Philippines' involvement in postwar Iraq, on Wed, April 9, the Times ran a story by Wayne Arnold on page W1, the front page of the World Business section, titled "The Postwar Invasion of Iraq: Philippines Likely to Supply Many Workers Rebuilding Iraq."

Arnold writes: "No matter which companies ultimately win contracts from Washington to rebuild Iraq's roads, airports, hospitals or other structures, officials in Manila expect to supply thousands of Filipino laborers to them. 'I'm confident that if they're looking for skilled workers, they'll come to us,' said Patricia A. Sto. Tomas, the secretary of labor and employment."

The jump on page W7 tells us that Filipinos aren't the only ones, though: "Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia, for example, hope that sending chemical-weapon specialists will entitle them to contracts. South Korea intends to send 700 medical and engineering workers to smooth a return by its big construction companies to a market they abandoned after the first Persian Gulf war."

Arnold reports that the Philippines' president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, told the local media that "her government was prepared to send peacekeepers, doctors, nurses, engineers and construction workers."

He suggests that chances are many Filipinos will work in Iraq for U.S. companies, given that: "Imported Filipino laborers and engineers, many working for less than the American minimum wage, helped build the detention center holding Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba."

Arnold notes in conclusion: "With American troops fighting in the heart of Baghdad, recruitment agencies in Manila say they are already seeing the first, tentative inquiries from American companies, including some of the same ones that hired Filipinos to work in Kuwait more than a decade ago. Those employers that do not have contacts with a Philippine recruitment agency can go to the Department of Labor and Employment's Government Placement Branch, which is dedicated to finding them Philippine employees."


One last, little piece, also on page B8 — "Nonprofit Institute Gets Contract to Aid Iraqi Civic Agencies," again by Elizabeth Becker — records the award of the third of eight contracts from USAID for the reconstruction of Iraq.

This one, for $7.9 million, went to the Research Triangle Institute of North Carolina, Becker writes, "to help restore local governments in Iraq."

The institute will be sending "experts and equipment" to Iraq "within two weeks," Becker reports, and they are ready to start work "as soon as the military declares the situation safe."

The first two USAID contracts, Becker notes, went to Stevedoring Services of America, "to manage and repair seaports like Umm Qasr," and the International Resources Group, "to help plan for emergency relief."