According to a story in the Washington Post last week, the Pentagon is strongly encouraging US companies to consider working with Iraqi suppliers, but the private sector is refusing to play ball (hat-tip: Tony Poshek). While it might seem ironic that the US is willing to send troops abroad to take care of business without encouraging US companies to purchase goods from the same areas, it's really not. Consider in the piece how Wal-Mart and JC Penny explained that Iraq did not make sense as an offshore supply haven because of their "uncertain future and the questionable viability of potential suppliers there." For the better or the worse, this is further evidence of the true separation of government and the private sector in the US. And it also shows that when given the option, companies would rather take a pass on risky developing markets than plunging right in. Still, I wonder what might happen if George Bush -- and Dave McCormick, FreeMarkets former CEO, who plays a key role in advising Bush on trade -- decided to offer special incentives to encourage domestic businesses to import from Iraq.
As a side note, Tony pointed out to me that, "One funny tidbit from this article, is how it explained that Iraqi consumers seem to love imports. So much so, that one Iraqi leather factory has been stamping 'Made in China' on its soccer balls, to help encourage Iraqi’s to buy them." All I can say is that it's a good thing there is no testing facilities in Iraq for lead paint, lest a bit of import Q/A burst their love affair with falsely labeled trinkets and trash.