The Chairman of Kurdistan’s Investment Board said that the board will adopt a more strategic approach and devolve investment licensing powers to its three provincial directorates.
Minister Herish Muharam, speaking at the ‘Iraq: Untapped Opportunities‘ conference in London, said, “To increase the efficiency of our Investment Board, we are delegating more of our operations to the provincial level, so that we can focus on our vision, and on the strategies that we need to achieve our vision.”
At the conference, Minister Muharam outlined five key sectors for investment – industry, agriculture, banking, tourism and health – and invited British companies to participate in Kurdistan’s vision.
He added “We used leading international consultants to help us develop strategies for electricity, water and road transport. We hope that foreign companies will help us to implement these strategies. In the Kurdistan Region (we) are no longer looking for the cheapest suppliers and trading partners. There is a growing recognition that quality represents value for money.”
Lord Howell of Guildford, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, also addressed the Middle East Association’s (MEA) ‘Iraq Untapped Opportunities’ conference. He said, “With the Arab Spring we see the desire for reform and democracy. In Iraq, the people have chosen democracy. In the national election in 2009, voter turnout was 64% which is excellent by international standards.”
Lord Howell said that the October British trade delegation to Erbil was the largest delegation led by UKTI to anywhere in the world, with 86 people representing 70 companies and organisations. He spoke of his pride in the UK’s role in liberating the Iraqi people from tyranny. He said, “But now the nature of our bilateral relationship has changed. We are now developing broad-based bilateral relations in education, culture, and democratic development. Fundamental to this relationship is developing trade links.”
Ms Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the KRG’s Representative to the UK, said, “Kurdistan is a good-news story. Since 2006, Kurdistan has attracted $16bn of investment in non-oil and gas sectors. This is a testament to the region’s dynamic development and the Investment Board’s efforts to help domestic and international investors.”
Dr Hussein Al Shahristani, Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister for Energy; Dr Khairallah Hassan Babiker, Iraq’s Minister of Trade; and Baroness Emma Nicholson, a member of the House of Lords and Executive Chair of the Iraqi-British Business Council, also spoke at the conference at the Dorchester Hotel.