Eighteen Austrian companies participated in a trade mission to the Kurdistan Region, touring Erbil, Suleimaniah and Dohuk governorates, to explore commercial opportunities in a variety of sectors.
The Austrian Commercial Office in Erbil hosted a banquet, attended by several Kurdistan Regional Government officials, to mark the successful visit.
Dr Richard Schenz, Vice President of the Austrian Federal Chamber of Commerce, said, "I was very pleased to lead this business mission here, as the interest from our companies is growing. We brought some 18 companies here, and many of these and others will come to the Trade Fair in October." He added, "We will intensify our presence, and we have had good discussions throughout the Region, including a number of promising avenues for future activity in Suleimaniah."
Mr Oskar Smrzka, the Head of Austria's Commercial Office, said, "It is my job to help interested Austrian firms to come to the Kurdistan Region and to Iraq. Over the years we see the progressive growth. For example, the investment by Austrian companies in 2009 was 80% greater than in 2008. Further, I think our firms view the Kurdistan Region as the best gateway to Iraq, and this is of great importance, as it is a large market."
Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations, said, "The KRG is always pleased to welcome Austrian firms in the Kurdistan Region. I am delighted that this delegation had the chance to truly explore our Region, as investment and joint venture projects are the best mechanism to catalyze better relations with the international community." He added, "The operation of Austrian Airlines is a perfect instance of mutually beneficial commercial interests facilitating a heightened sense of cooperation, friendship and exchange, and the KRG looks forward to the presence of more Austrian companies in the Region."
Mr Nawzad Hadi, the Governor of Erbil, met the delegation and stressed the importance of such visits which help corporate representatives and local officials and firms to interact. He said that the progress achieved in the Region so far would not have been possible without the cooperation of foreign investors and companies.
The delegation will spend seven days in Kurdistan, meeting a wide range of KRG ministry officials and local companies.