Kurdistan Development to Continue Unabated

Urban and economic progress in Kurdistan continues with many relatively stable areas and regional policy both being attractive to foreign investment. Developments in oil, too, will not be affected by delays in forming the next Iraqi government, the local government says.

The Kurdistan Regional Government points to its profit-friendly legislation including ten-year tax breaks and land set aside for investment. It states that estimates for investment in the region currently total more than $14bn, including housing, banking, health, tourism, telecommunications, education, agriculture and sports, and over 31,000 acres of land have been allocated for investment projects.

Erbil has the most investment projects at 122, with 70 more in Sulaymaniyah and 40 in Dohuk.

Big investors have so far incuded Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon and Turkey, and others taking advantage of the investment climate include Austria, France, Germany, India, New Zealand, Sweden, South Africa, the UAE, the UK and the USA.

Kurdistan has broadened its investment focus recently. Dr. Haider Mustafa of Kurdistan's Regional Investment board, said: "You know that we have inherited a devastated country from the former regime...At the outset, especially between 2007 and 2008, we focused on infrastructure projects because they were the most affected...but after 2009, the attention focused on the development of other sectors , especially the industrial and agricultural sectors.

Dr. Mustafa takes on the concerns of foreign investors, saying: "The foreign investor has always been focused on large industrial projects and strategy in contrast to the domestic investor...According to our plan, we are working in the next phase to focus on major strategic projects, especially in the industrial sector, and this is what allows a greater opportunity for foreign investors. We need after this stage to strengthen the economic structure with the establishment of factories and large plants. We have developed a map specific to our basic needs in this sector, for example, the petrochemical industry, manufacturing and automobile assembly, machinery and mechanisms, and industrial electrical equipment, and paper, glass...bridges, tunnels, mills, iron, steel, and leather factories, and soap and detergents, and factories producing machinery, agricultural machinery, and plants producing electricity poles, weaving, vegetable oils and cotton wool, etc., and our doors are open to all investors to enter the market competition in these areas."

Dr. Ali Hussain Balou, adviser to Kurdistan's Ministry of Natural Resources, also reassures oil investors with an announcement that it will continue its oil policy despite continuing delays to form the next Iraq government. The 42 oil companies from 17 countries in the region will be able to continue to drill for oil in accordance with their contracts.

The Kurdistan Regional Government states that one of the most important differences that need to be resolved on the way to working with a new Iraq government is their differences over oil policy. After five years the issues still aren't resolved, but Dr. Balou said: "The implementation of the Kurdish demands need to be taken seriously," and that the incoming government must "fully abide by them."

He said that signing of contracts and development of oil will go ahead and not be affected by the delay in forming a government.

Read more on Kurdistan investment in Stewart Blair's blog: Construction and Investment in Iraq.

(Source: Kurdistan Regional Government)

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