Clothing and leather goods made in factories in some of the most dangerous areas of Iraq could be on sale in leading stores around the world by the end of this year.

Wal-Mart, JC Penney and Sears are thought to be among the retailers set to stock Iraqi-made leather jackets and suits in time for Christmas.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday (12 August), Iraqi deputy industry minister Sami al-Araji said discussions with retailers were being led by a US team headed by Paul Brinkley, the deputy under secretary of defence for business transformation in Iraq.

As part of a scheme to put state industries back to work, initial shipments of 10,000 to 12,000 leather jackets and 20,000 to 25,000 ready-made suits are planned "to introduce the American public to Iraqi products." The price of a suit would be around $80 to $90.

Brinkley said that many Iraqi factories were in good shape, adding that "economic development" is key to creating stability in the country by luring unemployed Iraqis away from the insurgency.