Investors wary of violence in Iraq, but optimistic: survey

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Foreign investors are still put off by violence in Iraq but most companies believe the security situation will improve, despite the withdrawal of international troops, a new study found Monday.

A survey of more than 300 senior executives by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) found that seven years after the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, 64 percent thought it was still too dangerous to do business in Iraq.

But there was optimism about the future, according to provisional results seen by AFP, with 55 percent saying they believed the security situation for foreign executives and employees would improve over the next two years.

This is despite the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country -- Britain pulled out its combat soldiers last year, while the United States withdrew its last combat brigade last week, although 50,000 troops will remain.

According to the EIU survey, which will be published next month, violence was the biggest business risk for 67 percent of respondents, followed by corruption (44 percent) and the lack of infrastructure (35 percent).

Iraq's oil and gas reserves were the most attractive aspect of the country for investors, but after this, 43 percent said construction and real estate was the most promising non-hydrocarbon sector, followed by consumer goods (23 percent) and healthcare and pharmaceuticals (18 percent).

The EIU surveyed 367 senior executives from 52 countries about their perceptions of investment in Iraq. They work for 80 companies currently investing in Iraq and 32 companies that are considering it.

© 2010 AFP

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