April 03, 2003

Ca Commence! Post-war commercial maneuverings

Ca Commence!

Post-war commercial maneuverings are beginning in earnest, but it appears some French outfits got a bit trigger-happy:

"On Thursday, a working-group meeting on how to seize opportunities in Iraqi reconstruction was scheduled here by Medef, the organization of major French industrialists. The meeting was canceled last weekend after discussions between the French government and Medef's head, Ernst-Antoine Seilliere.

"Too early, too high-profile," Seillere reportedly ruled, especially since France has been too close to Baghdad under the regime of Saddam Hussein and too estranged from a Washington at war.

The little French faux pas in scheduling provided a rare public hint of the political and business calculations that are driving a corporate scramble in Western capitals - and sometimes right behind the battle lines in Iraq."

Worth noting too, enarque complicity with the Baathist power structure:

"A company often singled out for attacks in Washington is TotalFinaElf, the French oil giant, which has signed a colossal contract with Saddam's government for future rights to Iraqi oil fields. The deal, whose terms remain a commercial secret, would have gone into effect once sanctions were lifted on Iraq. French officials have vowed to defend the contract in international arbitration, while the Bush administration charges that the French company stood to gain a lopsided premium for working with a rogue regime.

"French companies that know Iraq well - like the carmaker Peugeot and the telecom giant Alcatel - have a problem because their contacts and allies tend to be linked with the Ba'ath party rulers, who are liable to be on the wrong side in a new Iraq," a French diplomat said.

"It could depend on how fast Washington wants to revive the economy," said Philippe Maniere, editor of La Lettre de l'Expansion, the Paris-based newsletter that disclosed the abortive Medef conference. "French companies already have experience and even blueprints for Iraqi infrastructure in critical areas such as oil and water."

Well Philippe, many trust "Washington" will manage just fine (and fast) without "blueprints" secured from Baathist thugs by Jacques and Co.

Posted by Gregory at April 3, 2003 10:33 AM
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