By John Lee.
Northern Ireland's Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster (pictured), has today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Kurdistan Regional Government, which will strengthen trade links and define areas of co-operation between the two regions.
The MOU is the result of the Minister’s visit to Kurdistan in October 2011 when she met with President Barzani and Kurdistan Regional Government Ministers as part of an Invest Northern Ireland trade mission to Erbil. Speaking in Erbil about the MOU Arlene Foster said:
"This agreement will help to strengthen trade and business links between Northern Ireland and Kurdistan, which is a rapidly growing economy.
"Since my visit to Kurdistan last year I have been very encouraged by the business partnerships that have been built between the two countries and I am keen to promote further opportunities for our local companies.
"I know that several Northern Ireland firms have identified business opportunities in the region and that they have been impressed by the very positive attitude of the Kurdistan people."
Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, Kurdistan Regional Government High Representative to the United Kingdom said:
"We welcome this MOU between the governments of Kurdistan and Northern Ireland and look forward to seeing a strong business relationship developing between the two countries.
"We have identified many areas for co-operation and I’m confident that this is the first step towards a relationship that will bring tangible benefits to both regions."