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Industrial enterprise vows to reduce prices to stave off foreign competition

Electrical Industries, a state-run enterprise, has brought most of its production lines on stream and says its products can now compete with foreign imports.
“We offer discounts up to $30 a piece to wholesale traders,” said Bassem Abdullah, the enterprise’s chief. More than two years after the fall of the former regime, Abdullah says his company currently manufactures a variety of electrical products ranging from white goods to small-size generators. He said the enterprise has contracts with several ministries for the supply of diesel-powered generators. The main obstacle facing the enterprise, according to Abdullah, is the flood of cheap imports which, though of a lower quality, are sold at substantially lower rates. However, demand for the company’s products has surged recently particularly for air-coolers, air-conditioners, water pumps and electrical fans. Iraqis, who previously preferred the company’s white goods even to those imported from Scandinavian countries or Japan, are slowly returning to the company, he said.
“Demand for our goods has hiked. It is much better than before,” Abdullah said, without elaborating. He said security was also a hindrance as it prevented the company from freely ferrying its new products to dealers across the country.
“Our efforts to launch our own marketing centers in the provinces have failed due to mounting security problems,” he added. White goods dealers in Baghdad said customers frequently ask for the company’s products.
However, Iraqi-made goods are rare and if available are sold at prices higher than foreign counterparts, said Fadhil al-Baydar. Baydar said Iraqi trade marks like Ishtar and Qithara “‘are of a much higher quality” than imported counterparts but “they are also much dearer.” Qithara and Ishtar white goods were available in almost every Iraqi household and were also in demand in neighboring countries. The company is also known locally for its cooling gadgets which consumers have traditionally preferred to imported ones. “We ask the company to make these (cooling) goods available in the market and at affordable rates,” asked Talib Jamal. Another dealer, Mohammed Ummar, said he still keeps his Ishtar fridge and deep freezer “which has been working perfectly well for a very long time without technical problems.”