Getting This Show on the Road

Nearly two months after the elections in Iraq, the outcome has become even more uncertain, as votes for several candidates with alleged ties to the Ba’ath Party were disqualified on Monday. Further disqualification decisions have reportedly been postponed until next week.

In the meantime, Ayad Allawi, whose Iraqiya party has a two-seat lead over Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Coalition, has suggested the formation of an interim government, while the U.S. Ambassador has urged Iraqi politicians to “get this show on the road”.

Despite the political uncertainty, getting the show on the road is exactly what the business community has been doing. “Execution is going full speed ahead despite the political situation”, said Statoil’s vice-president for International Exploration and Production in the Middle East. “The major oil companies are starting to move forward at a very high speed. Oil companies are tendering huge contracts and making commitments in the market.

Western government agencies also need to consider how they can facilitate business. The commencement of flights between Baghdad and London is a positive development, but Iraqis report huge administrative difficulties in getting visas to visit the UK. British businessmen complain that this is needlessly impeding trade and damaging relations. Surely this can be improved.

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