Indian engineering firms eye more exports to Iraq

Monday, 21 April 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: India's top engineering goods and services companies are working towards enhancing exports to the Middle East, particularly Iraq, and eyeing new markets in Central Asian, African and Latin American countries.

Prior to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, the Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC) was planning to set up an office in Baghdad for better representation in what was a major market with companies like state-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL) bagging orders for supply of goods and services under the U.N. oil-for-food programme.

"While the plan for setting up a representative office in Baghdad has been shelved for the time being, we may soon appoint a representative there to send us feedback on the market requirements and potential," EEPC executive director C.S. Shukla said.

"With substantial reconstruction work to be undertaken in Iraq, we are looking at subcontracts for supply of engineering goods and project exports. Prior to the war, Indian companies had been supplying a lot of equipment to Iraq like diesel pumps, construction material and auto parts," said Shukla.

"We are hopeful Iraq will once again emerge as a major market."

While the U.S. is India's biggest market for engineering goods, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has emerged as a major re-export hub in the Middle East for destinations in other countries of the region as well as to countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Africa.

EEPC estimates that with the $6.65 billion export target set for 2002-03 having been exceeded, it would be feasible to achieve 15 percent growth in 2003-04.

"We have chalked out an export promotion plan based on emerging opportunities which we plan to submit to the commerce ministry in the first week of May for approval. This plan includes holding more India Tech exhibitions, buyer-seller meets, inviting and taking trade delegations to various countries and better market survey during 2003-04," said Shukla.

EEPC has so far held eight India Tech exhibitions in potential markets in Latin America and Africa, the last being on April 14-17 at Addis Ababa in Ethiopia with 46 companies showcasing Indian products and services.

"The exhibition in Ethiopia was a success with the participating companies bagging $1 million worth firm orders and receiving $30 million worth enquires for future orders. In addition, around 20 companies have been able to appoint local agents," said Shukla.

In July, EEPC is planning to take a 150-member delegation to Brazil to participate in the next India Tech exhibition.
Source: IANS
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