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Boost to Australian efforts in Iraq.

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Media release

11 February 2004 - A01/2004

Boost to Australian Efforts in Iraq

Trade Minister Mark Vaile today said Australian companies were well placed to secure a share of the US$18.6 billion newly allocated by the US Government for Iraq reconstruction following discussions with Retired Rear Admiral David Nash, Head of the Coalition Provisional Authoritys Program Management Office.

Minister Vaile and Admiral Nash were speaking at the Iraq Roundtable, a business seminar designed to update experienced Australian companies on prospects offered by the US-funded Iraq reconstruction program. More than 60 leading Australian companies attended the roundtable, which was organised by Austrade, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and AusAid.

"Australian companies have already made a significant contribution to Iraqs rehabilitation and are well positioned to continue this good work, particularly in the fields of agribusiness, infrastructure, consultancy and other services," Mr Vaile said.

"With the US Governments latest announcement, now is the time for Australian companies to position themselves to win subcontracts from the successful prime contractors working on the reconstruction of Iraq.

"This roundtable is part of a concerted effort by the Australian Government to ensure local companies have the tools and knowledge they need to secure significant contracts in Iraq.

Agencies like Austrade will continue working closely with these companies to give them the best possible chance of success."

Since the end of major hostilities last May, Australian companies have won contracts in agriculture, environmental rehabilitation, electricity distribution, finance and economic policy. Most recently, a consortium including the Worley Group, an Australian supplier of professional services to the petroleum industry, was awarded a contract to restore Iraqs oil infrastructure worth potentially US$800 million.

AWB Limited has secured wheat contracts under the Oil-for-Food Program, valued at more than $350 million. SAGRIC International and the CSIRO, as part of a US-led consortium, have won a contract to rehabilitate Iraqs agriculture. SMEC has won a $5 million contract to repair electricity sub-stations in Northern Iraq. The ANZ bank, Multiemedia, GRM International and Patrick Corporation are also contributing to reconstruction. Bega Cheese has started to supply its special canned cheese to the Iraq market.

The roundtable also included an update from Neil Mules, the Head of the Australian Representative Office in Baghdad as well as practical information from Australians working in Iraq and the region. It follows a successful meeting in Baghdad between Minister Vaile and Admiral Nash in December last year.

Media contact: Matthew Doman 02 6277 7420, Jemima Lohse (Austrade) +61 2 9390 2703, Nancy Szalwinski (US Embassy) +61 2 6214 5872