Japan's Auto Industry Returns To Iraq. Very Carefully

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
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japan s auto industry returns to iraq very carefully

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.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Mar 22, 2010

    And how long before they leave again after the first suicide bomb or kidnapping of their personnel? note: the chopper in the pic looks like one of those belonging to the infamous Blackwater Inc. This company also has its auto industry links ... Blackwater's founder, former Navy Seal, Eric Prince's father was the founder of Prince Tool & Machine in Grand Rapids, Mi. Their speciality was the construction of plastic-injection molding tools and equipment. They branched out into production of auto interior components and IIRC were also the developers of the autochromic dimming rear-view mirrors (an item which was tied up in IP litigation, against the Donnely Corp of Grand Rapids, Mi ((Donnely itself was later bought by Magna)). After old man Prince died, the family sold the company to Johnson Controls for a tidy sum. Grand Rapids being a Republican stronghold, and the Prince family being rich donors, have all kinds of high-level contacts in Washington. This was the probable link to getting Blackwater into all those jobs and troubles in Iraq. 2° of separation here...

    • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Mar 22, 2010

      Correct. And before some smarty pants mentions that Blackwater (or its renamed company) has been kicked out of Iraq, I'll mention it. So there.

  • Mikey Mikey on Mar 22, 2010

    Good for Toyota. Somehow I think that U.A. isn't a big issue with the people of Iraq. If you can survive suicide bombers,kidnapers and sniper fire. A sticky gas pedal is F.A.

    • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Mar 22, 2010

      I was going to add, in my earlier post, but didn't get a round to it, that I wonder how long it will be before somebody makes the connection, humorous, cynical, or otherwise, between some kind of car bomb and TMC UA ... (yes, I know I've done it here, but only in the abstract...)

  • Crash sled Crash sled on Mar 22, 2010

    Hey, would you rather sell Toyotas in Iraq with suicide bombers everywhere, or in the US with trial lawyers everywhere? See what I mean?