By Hugh Evans, United Kingdom's Consul General in Erbil.
The UK is proud of the close friendship it has forged with the Kurdistan Region of Iraq in recent decades. Today, our bilateral relationship encompasses strong political, commercial, educational, cultural and governance ties. As the people of Kurdistan go to the polls this weekend to elect a new Parliament, we remain committed to consolidating our position as a partner of choice for this emerging Region.
The entry of British businesses has been crucial in cementing our overall links. Three years ago only two UK companies were operating here. Now we have a thriving business community with over 100 companies. But we are not complacent. The promotion of trade and investment ties – which we have dubbed the “prosperity agenda” - is a top British Government priority. We want even more UK firms to enter the Kurdistan market over the next year and beyond.
Our companies are already represented across the major sectors in one of the world’s most dynamic economies, and have already secured major contracts in the Oil and Gas, Pharmaceuticals and architectural Services sectors. The presence of a substantial UK mission to the 9th Erbil International Trade Fair from 23-26 September will further underscore the strength of our commercial commitment to the Region and showcase the quality and diversity that British business has to offer.
Led by Lord Jonathan Marland, Prime Minister David Cameron’s trade envoy, the mission will comprise 39 British companies – a total of 61 delegates – representing a host of activities from oil and gas and financial services to infrastructure and education.
When I took a group of business leaders to meet His Excellency President Massoud Barzani during last year’s Erbil Fair, he told us that the “sky was the limit” in Kurdistan for British companies. We are doing our best to fulfil his expectations!