Japan’s auto industry is slowly putting its toes back into the Iraqi quicksand. Their stalking horse is Sumitomo, which established the first office of a Japanese company in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, The Nikkei [sub] reports. The office is in the business center at Baghdad’s international airport, surrounded by American military facilities. They’ll build the world’s most heavily guarded workshop.
Sumitomo, the legendary keiretsu that is also the parent of Mazda, had exported Toyota vehicles to Iraq since 1965. With the war, business at local dealerships came to a sudden end.
One of the first jobs of the Sumitomo trading house is to establish an automobile repair facility with 1,500 sq. meters of floor space near the Baghdad airport. The new repair facility will handle all vehicle brands in addition to providing after-sales service for the Toyotas that Sumitomo exported.
Working in Baghdad is rough duty. Security guards will be assigned to Sumitomo personnel, even if they are within the tightly guarded confines of the Baghdad airport.
Japan’s return to Iraq doesn’t come too early. Iraqi government and companies have shown high interest in the relatively low cost offerings of China, especially in the light duty pick-up sector.