Thursday, November 03, 2005

Poll Shows Iraqi Businesses Remain Optimistic About Economy; Substantial Rise in the Employment of Women Also Found

9/28/2005 1:14:00 PM

To: National Desk
Contact: Gregg Willhauck of Center for International Private Enterprise, 202- 721-9200, gwillhauck@cipe.org

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Iraqi business leaders remain decidedly optimistic about the growth of the Iraqi economy as well as the growth of their own businesses, according to a poll released today by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). The survey reveals that 77 percent of Iraqi businesses anticipate growth in the national economy over the next two years and 69 percent of respondents describe themselves as being "optimistic" about Iraq's general economic future.

"Business confidence in Iraq is being driven by a sense of opportunity," concluded John Sullivan, CIPE's executive director. "The Iraqi economy has been rebounding, and private businesses see many opportunities to grow their firms. A significant number of businesses are reporting plans to hire more employees and to invest in order to build on this sense of economic progress and growth."

The poll, conducted by Zogby International, included interviews with more than 600 Iraqi business owners and managers spread across five cities: Baghdad, Hilla, Basra, Arbil, and Kirkuk. CIPE and Zogby produced a similar Iraqi business poll released in December 2004. Both polls are available through CIPE's website http://www.cipe.org

Among other significant findings, 63 percent of the Iraqi businesses surveyed employed women, which represents almost a 50 percent increase over the previous poll. In each of the cities of Baghdad, Hilla, and Arbil women were employed by at least 60 percent of the businesses polled. While more than half of the firms polled in either Basra or Kirkuk did not employ women, at least 40 percent of the firms did.

Despite the many challenges they face, 54 percent of Iraqi businesses expect increased sales in the next six months and 38 percent are expecting employment to rise. Similarly, 45 percent of Iraqi businesses believe their profits will grow during this same period. By contrast, only a handful of Iraqi businesses expect to see a decline either in sales, employment, or profits. The remaining Iraqi businesses are expecting no change in these areas.

In addition to the optimism they expressed about their country's economic future, Iraqi business leaders' belief in the political future of their country is quite strong. Sixty percent of respondents expressed an optimistic outlook regarding Iraq's political future, whereas only 9 percent held a pessimistic view and 25 percent professed themselves as "neutral."

When asked if they agreed or disagreed that the election of the government earlier this year would result in long-term stability in Iraq, 71 percent of respondents stated that they agreed, with 27 percent strongly agreeing and 44 percent agreeing somewhat. Kirkuk was the lone exception with 55 percent responding that they somewhat disagreed and 7 percent that they strongly disagreed. In each of the other cities sampled the responses for "strongly agree" and "somewhat agree" totaled over 70 percent.

Not surprisingly, the security situation remains the major priority for the business community. When asked what single action the government could take to help them, 33 percent of respondents wanted better security, with Baghdad business leaders rating the highest at 45 percent. The effective enforcement of laws and regulations, combating corruption, and better education and training - particularly in the areas of computers and English language - also ranked as high priorities for the Iraqi business community.

"One of the survey's key findings is that firms are seeing progress and this progress is building greater confidence. Nevertheless, Iraqi businesses want this new government to do a better job of providing a secure environment in which to live and conduct business as well as enforcing laws and regulations and fighting corruption," observed Sullivan. "Business people around the world, and Iraq is no exception, want a sense of political stability. The optimism displayed by Iraqi businesses is being driven both by their sense of opportunity and the belief that a stable governmental structure is going to emerge."

CIPE is a non-profit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and one of the four core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy. CIPE has supported more than 800 local initiatives in over 90 developing countries, involving the private sector in policy advocacy and institutional reform, improving governance, and building understanding of market-based democratic systems.

http://www.usnewswire.com/

-0-

/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Regards,

Marcel Heersema
Iraqi Dinar