December 16, 2015

KRG hosts US trade delegation in Erbil and Slemani

Erbil, Kurdistan Region (us.gov.krd) – This week Kurdistan Regional Government Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman is leading a trade delegation of over 25 companies to Kurdistan from December 13 to December 18. In coordination with the US-Kurdistan Business Council (USKBC), the delegation brings together companies from a variety of sectors to encourage investment and development in Kurdistan. Since Monday, the delegation has met with numerous senior KRG officials, Kurdistan trade and industry leaders, and members of the diplomatic corps.gfhd

Speaking at the delegation launch, KRG Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani thanked the delegation and said, ‘It means a great deal that American trade delegation should come to Kurdistan in these difficult times.’ He was joined by a number of distinguished speakers and guests including Head of the Department of Foreign Relations Falah Mustafa Bakir, KRG Spokesman Safeen Dizayee, Minister of Planning Ali Sindi, Minister of Health Rekawt Hama Rasheed, and Minister of Municipalities and Tourism Newroz Mawlood Amin.

In 2006, the KRG passed the Investment Law, which provides a number of highly favorable incentives to foreign companies investing in Kurdistan. This delegation marks the first US trade group to visit Kurdistan since 2012.

The Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KFCCI) hosted a lunch and seminar on building US-Kurdistan trade relations. In his keynote address, Deputy Prime Minister Talabani said, ‘With your help we will ensure that we make Kurdistan an easier place to do business. You will have an economically strong, dependable ally in the heart of the Middle East.’ Representative Abdul Rahman, US Consul General Mathias Mitman, Head of KFCCI Dara Khayat, and US Consulate staff gave remarks to an audience of KRG officials and ministers, heads of Erbil, Duhok, and Slemani Chambers of Commerce, as well as business leaders and members of the media. Later in the week, the group met privately with members of the Slemani Chamber of Commerce and Industry to discuss how US companies can engage in Kurdistan.

The USKBC hosted a reception in honor of US Consul General Mitman. Minister Mustafa and Representative Abdul Rahman thanked the American official, with Representative Abdul Rahman saying, ‘We congratulate Consul General Mitman and appreciate his hard work in underscoring the important partnership between the US and Kurdistan.’ UK Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood, UK Consul General Angus McKee, UAE Consul General Rashid Mohammed Al-Mansouri and Sudan Consul General Yasseen Ismail also attended.

During a meeting in Erbil, Governor Nawzad Hadi and Deputy Governor Tahir Abdullah talked in detail about the responsibility of caring for nearly 600,000 displaced Iraqis, primarily Sunni Arabs, who have taken refuge in Erbil province. Erbil province continues to move forward, and the provincial leaders discussed their vision for the future, covering planned highways, bridges, and electricity projects.

Since the start of violence in Syria, the Kurdistan Region has accepted a steady stream of Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqis. Today, over 1.8 million people, including Yezidis, Christians, Sunnis, Shi’a, and others have found shelter throughout Kurdistan. In February 2015, the World Bank found that the KRG would require around $2.4 billion in infrastructure investment to stabilize the economy and public services.

The delegation traveled to Slemani to visit the provincial Governor Aso Amin, who spoke about the current situation and the province’s vision for the future. Slemani hosts 30 percent of manufacturing in all of Iraq, including cement, steel, tiles, and agricultural products. Accompanied by university President Esther Mulnix, the group toured the American University of Iraq – Slemani (AUIS), which is a member of the USKBC. Along with the American University of Kurdistan – Duhok, AUIS provides English-language, American-style education. The delegation had the opportunity to talk with faculty and students. Representative Abdul Rahman also led the group to visit Faruk Medical City, a state-of-the-art private hospital, and was later hosted by Nokan, a major Kurdish company based in Slemani.

The group will spend the rest of the week in Erbil meeting with senior KRG officials, the Kurdistan Investment Board, and industry leaders.
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