Edmund Stoiber, the state premier of Bavaria and a man tipped for a major role in a possible future conservative national government, said Germany could play a key role in rebuilding the Iraqi economy as a conference opened in Munich on Tuesday amid tight security. The conference is designed to inform German companies about the possibilities of doing business in Iraq, despite the daily dangers to contractors working in the strife-torn country. Stoiber said that Germany had been Iraq's leading trading partner 20 years ago. "We would like to re-establish our links," Stoiber said in a speech to delegates. "As one of the world's leading industrial nations, Germany could make an important contribution." Reinhard Avemann of the German-Arab chambers of commerce and industry said that German companies had a strong chance of landing contracts for the rebuilding of Iraq's shattered infrastructure. All invitations to bid for the contracts will be open to any company, not just US firms, Avemann told German radio, although he admitted that contractors from the United States dominated in the oil and gas sectors and in equipping the police and military. "Security remains the main problem," Avemann said. The value of German exports to Iraq totaled 400 million euros ($479 million) in 2004. Five Iraqi government ministers were expected to take part in the two-day conference which is organized by the chambers of commerce and industry of Munich and Upper Bavaria.