Business

For more information on investment in the Kurdistan Region, contact Director of Investment Tara Hamawandi at tara.hamawandi@us.gov.krd.

There are a multitude of paths to investment and prosperity in the Kurdistan Region. We are dedicated to advancing the commercial opportunities and interests of the broader U.S business community in our region. The possibilities of investment in the Kurdistan Region are endless.

Our office serves as a first step to learning about investment laws and opportunities. We connect interested businesses with the appropriate agencies within Kurdistan and provide guidance and assistance to nurture these new relationships. The Kurdistan Region: Invest the Future, an annual publication, provides a quick and clear understanding on the best ways to invest in our region, how to submit business plans and who to contact.

We also actively seek and meet potential investors or those looking to expand ongoing operations. We work closely with such premier organizations as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors trade missions to Kurdistan and created a Kurdistan Region of Iraq Investment Taskforce.

We have strong ties with the U.S. Department of Commerce, which sent a delegation to Kurdistan as part of the first official U.S. government trade mission to Iraq in 20 years and the first official mission to the Kurdistan Region.

Kurdistan is poised to be the bridge for international trade between the United States and Europe for Iraq and the Middle East. It provides excellent investment opportunities, exemplified by the numerous companies that have already learned how profitable it is to do business in Kurdistan.

For more information:

INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES AND INFORMATION

From tourism to manufacturing, to agriculture and transportation, Kurdistan is ready to have others play a bigger role in its economic future, which in turn helps buoy the economic base and stability for all of Iraq. It is indeed the perfect location for a regional base, profitable work in developing infrastructure or launching new businesses outright.

 
INVESTMENT LAW

A liberal foreign investment law was ratified in June 2006 providing incentives for foreign investors including the possibility of owning land, up to 10 year tax holidays, easy repatriation of profits and removal of tariffs on exports and imports related to the project.

The foreign investor has the right to invest for himself without a partner or choose a partner as he likes. Investors have the right to employ foreign laborers in their projects and the foreign laborers have the right to transfer their gained money to their original countries. Foreign and Iraqi investors have the right to transfer all his gains to his original country or to any other countries he likes.

 
HOW TO INVEST

1. Contact a KRG liaison office. The KRG has regional liaison offices all over the world to facilitate communication between interested investors and appropriate KRG contacts in Kurdistan. KRG representations abroad will disseminate crucial sectoral information relevant to investors’ interests.

2. Visit the Kurdistan Region. Kurdistan has largely been insulated from the violence in Iraq. The KRG has created a stable security situation where foreigners are welcomed. With incomes on the rise, Kurds are eager to forge long-lasting business partnerships with international investors. In order to clear up any misconceptions about the Region, the KRG strongly recommends that interested investors meet with local government and business leaders, and witness Kurdistan’s outstanding economic progress first-hand.

3. Submit an application to the Board of Investment. The Board of Investment is the KRG institution that reviews and processes investment applications. Its “one-stop-shop” design eliminates bureaucratic hassle and provides a decision within 30 days of submission. At this stage, the Investment Board grants all relevant permits and licenses. An application can be found on the Investment Board’s website: www.kurdistaninvestment.org

4. Talk to other investors in the Kurdistan Region. The KRG Department of Foreign Affairs plays an intermediary role by connecting interested investors with existing investors and local business leaders who have experience in the Region.

5. Set-up shop. The KRG works alongside foreign investors to create a mutually beneficial economic relationship. While our relatively untapped markets show promise for investors who arrive early, foreign direct investment is also essential for advancing Kurdistan’s economic development and integration into the world economy.

ESTABLISHING A BUSINESS

The Kurdistan Regional Government continues to take steps to facilitate business opportunities and to ease the process by which organizations can be establish—while simultaneously ensuring a level playing field and secure competitive environment.

Currently, it takes approximately 30 days to start a business in Kurdistan. By law, the Investment Board is required to process applications within 30 days of submission. Detailed, professional proposals have the potentials to be processed more quickly, in approximately five to ten days.

Fact sheet: Doing business in the Kurdistan Region Investment guide, The Kurdistan Region: Invest in the Future The Kurdistan Board of Investment: www.kurdistaninvestment.org

TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq has undergone a significant period of transformation that has included many foundational elements necessary to achieve strong, sustainable economic growth. To maintain this progress, in addition to peace, stability, democracy, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) requires meaningful reform in the areas of governance and transparency. As such, the KRG is taking steps to form a system of good governance though the participation of all of the Region’s stakeholders, with transparency and accountability at the heart of a modern, professional government.

 
BACKGROUND

To build upon the early governance activities conducted by the KRG and the international community in the wake of the liberation of Iraq, an independent assessment was commissioned by the KRG in 2008. The KRG, along with international governance experts at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, assessed the existing KRG governance and transparency structures and reviewed comparative international good practices. From this analysis, a strategy has been developed to build a governance structure that is credible, effective and consistent with leading international practices.

 
STRATEGY

The KRG’s good governance and transparency strategy consists of a multi-year effort that requires a broad vision, support, goodwill and patience by all stakeholders and participants, including: government, civil society, the international community and the private sector. The reforms to be enacted will improve governance and transparency, reduce the potential for corruption, and increase economy and efficiency in government. The embedded anti-corruption component of the strategy will encompass several key areas including, awareness, law reform, training, prevention, monitoring and, ultimately, detection and enforcement.

 
KRG GOVERNANCE PRINCIPLES

The KRG’s initiative is founded on the following underlying principles:

  • The Rule of Law: Adherence to the Rule of Law is critical to the functioning of government and to ensure that no one in government, regardless of position, is above the law.
  • Public Service is Public Trust: Every KRG official must recognize that they owe a fiduciary duty and are accountable to act in the interests of the Kurdistan Region and its citizens, and will promote those interests above their own, their family or their political party.>
  • Governmental Functions Shall be Open and Transparent: An open and transparent government promote the interests of the Kurdistan Region, its institutions and citizenry. Ensuring that citizens have access to information on the functioning of government is an indispensible element to ensuring that KRG officials remain accountable to the voters who placed their trust in their hands.
  • Public Funds Must Always be used for Their Intended Purposes: The fundamental principle of economy and efficiency in government underscores the requirement that public funds should only be used for the purposes for which they are appropriately and lawfully allocated.
 
STRATEGIC REFORMS

For this initiative to succeed, the strategy calls for the implementation of a diverse set of institutional reforms and specific governance activities across all sectors of government. The actions include:

  • Create an Executive Office of Governance & Integrity
  • Create a Code of Conduct for all KRG officials
  • Create a comprehensive model Penal Code, including anti-corruption, money laundering and asset recovery laws
  • Provide governance training for all KRG officials
  • Provide the Supreme Audit Council with advanced training
  • Initiate KRG outreach and collaboration with international experts
  • Enhance public awareness and access to government information
  • Enact civil service reform
  • Strengthen public financial management practices
  • Reform procurement policies, procedures and practices
  • Commence a civil society participation program
  • Install Integrity Pacts in key civil infrastructure projects
  • Create and implement a Contractor Ethics and Integrity Licensing Program
  • Create a centralized, independent contractor suspension and debarment process
  • Adopt and fully implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Principles
  • Deliver advanced forensic training to enforcement authorities
 
BENEFITS TO THE KURDISTAN REGION

The successful implementation of a comprehensive governance and transparency strategy will assist the Kurdistan Region in achieving significant long-lasting benefits. A careful review of international precedents and research indicate a host of positive outcomes:

  • Ensuring public funds are used for their intended purposes
  • Creating tools for tackling corruption, fraud, waste and abuse
  • Enhancing transparency of government finances and operations
  • Setting integrity standards for public officials and integrity standards for private sector entities seeking to do business with the government
  • Improving delivery of government services to citizens
  • Improving living standards
  • Bolstering investor confidence
  • Increasing foreign direct investment
  • Increasing participation of civil society organizations

The KRG recognizes the shortcomings in our governance, in transparency and the important need to address corruption. We know corruption and its allies are dangerous enemies of democracy, because they eat at much of what we in the KRG and those living in Iraqi Kurdistan desire. They make the public cautious about believing in democracy. Corruption and its allies can be an acid that disintegrate democratic progress—and we will not let that happen.

We did not wait to be told this was a problem; we saw its existence, recognized the imperative and acted. We made a good governance initiative a priority. So we teamed up with world renowned consultant Price Waterhouse Cooper to review current conditions, the way our government works and all related issues—to give us a clear-eyed, blunt critique and action plan to address these crucial issues.

Good governance is a major pillar to securing our democracy. The initial assessment is complete and now we are in Phase Two. We are confident the recommendations will help us tackle this vital issue and eagerly await the report.

US-KURDISTAN BUSINESS COUNCIL

The USKBC has been established by several U.S. companies that have identified Kurdistan’s booming economy and significant opportunity. With one of the most liberal investment laws in the Middle East, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq presents untapped business development opportunities. Indeed, rapid growth in the region has contributed to a need for infrastructure and services development across all sectors. Kurdistan also represents an excellent business gateway to the rest of Iraq due to its geography and security.

For more information, visit: http://uskbc.org/

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