Iraqi Kurdistan Shifts Investment Approach

By Abdel Hamid Zebari for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq is preparing to change its investment approach to focus on new areas of foreign and local investment — including tourism, agriculture and industry — after having focused exclusively on housing and oil for the past six years.

Despite the fact that oil investments are the largest investments in the Kurdistan region, they fall outside of the investment law. These investments are carried out in a differ manner from those in business, industry and agriculture.

According to statistics obtained by Al-Monitor from the General Investment Authority in the Kurdistan Region, foreign and local investments have reached $24.5 billion across 521 projects extending over an area of 8500 acres in the region’s three major cities, Erbil, Sulaymaniyah and Dohuk.

The regional government began granting licenses for investment projects after Kurdistan’s parliament issued Investment Law No. 4 in 2006.

The regional government opened the door to domestic and foreign investment after 2006. Previously, the region lacked a suitable platform for investment, primarily due to the fact that there were two administrations operating in the region. One was in Erbil, administered by Massoud Barzani's party, while the other was in Sulaymaniyah under the management of Jalal Talabani's party. These two merged into a single administration after 2005.

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