The UK’s Middle East Association in association with British Expertise took a highly successful trade mission to Iraqi Kurdistan from 22nd-27th February, visiting Erbil and Slemani.
Comprising 16 delegates representing 14 companies, it was supported by the Kurdistan Regional Government and was received warmly at the highest level.
The packed programme included meetings with the Minister of Health, Board of Investment, Investors Unions of Erbil and Slemani and the Slemani Governor’s Office, as well as visits to leading Kurdish conglomerates such as Sterling Group, UB Holding and the Falcon Group, universities and educational institutions.
Networking lunches and dinners were hosted by the Kurdistan-UK Friendship Association, the Erbil Chamber of Commerce and Industries, the Kurdistan Investment Union and Slemani Investors Union. The programme also included a highly successful ‘UK in Kurdistan’ Forum which was attended by the Minister of Trade & Industry and senior officials at the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Planning and Ministry for Agriculture and Water Resources.
Mélusine de Chazal, Director of Projects and Government Relations at the Middle East Association, who led the mission, said:
“The pace of development in Kurdistan is astonishing – and it is not confined to Erbil. The Grand Millennium Hotel and Tower and the Farouk Medical Centre at Slemani are just a couple of examples of the amazing new projects which are underway, and are real manifestations of an economy on the move.
“There is a huge amount of goodwill to the UK and a high regard for the quality of British products and services. The Kurds would like to see more UK involvement and the business is there for the taking – but British companies need to be more proactive in pursuing opportunities.”
Delegates were overwhelmingly positive about the potential of the market and the contacts made, with two deciding to stay on for a further two weeks and many planning to return in the near future to progress business relationships.
“I just wanted to thank you for the superb job you did organising last week’s trade mission. The access to key decision makers and advice you provided was nothing short of first class. I am genuinely excited by the potential opportunities in Kurdistan and very much look forward to doing business there,” commented one of the delegates.
The trade mission was the Association’s fifteenth to the region since 2006, when the UK’s profile was negligible. Now, there are over 110 British companies registered in the market. Iraqi Kurdistan is certainly one of the MEA’s biggest success stories.