Italy's Minister of Economic Development Paolo Romani this week led a trade delegation representing more than 50 companies to the Kurdistan Region to participate in a high profile business conference.
Minister Romani’s visit to Kurdistan was part of a broader trip to Iraq, and was organised to coincide with the Italian-Kurdistan Region Business Forum and allow a number of private meetings with top KRG officials.
At a reception hosted by Prime Minister Barham Salih, the Prime Minister welcomed the delegation to the Region on behalf of President Masoud Barzani and wished them success in their mission. The Prime Minister later held a meeting with Minister Romani and some members of his cabinet to discuss the economic and political developments in Kurdistan and Iraq.
At a joint press conference, Prime Minister Salih said, "The Kurdistan Regional Government views this visit as a sign of the importance Italy attaches to Kurdistan and to Iraq. We are looking for enhanced cooperation in a variety of fields between our governments and also more importantly between the private sectors of Kurdistan and Iraq on the one hand and Italian companies on the other. Kurdistan is open for business and is a gateway for Italian companies to the rest of Iraq."
The Kurdistan Regional Government has previously signed agreements with the Italian regions of Veneto and Lombardy with the intention of strengthening cooperation in a variety of sectors, and the success of the business forum and the visit overall could pave the way for a significant increase in Italian participation in Kurdistan's economic growth.
At the business forum on Tuesday, which was organised by the KRG's Department of Foreign Relations, the KRG Minister of Trade and Industry, Sinan Celebi, spoke about the relationship that the Kurdistan Region enjoys with Italy, especially the bond between the Italian and Kurdish chambers of commerce. He expressed his hope that the forum would help to further cement the political and economic ties between both sides.
Minister Celebi said, "The number of foreign companies in the Kurdistan Region is almost 2,000, of which 212 are European." He added that he hoped the conference would result in an increase in Italian companies and that Kurdistan would benefit from their expertise.