December 23, 2016

American business leaders see ‘enormous opportunities’ during trade delegation to Kurdistan

Washington, DC, USA ( – The KRG Representative to the United States led a large delegation of American business leaders and executives from academic and humanitarian institutions on a six-day visit to Kurdistan. The delegation consisted of members and associates of the US-Kurdistan Business Council (USKBC). They visited Erbil and Duhok, having been to Erbil and Slemani the previous year.

Representative Abdul Rahman said, ‘Exchanges and visits by Kurdish and American business people are an integral part of deepening the understanding of each other’s economies and business opportunities.’

The delegation included companies operating in a variety of sectors, including defense, security, oil and gas, real estate, education and humanitarian work.

USKBC President David Tafuri said, ‘We were pleased to have companies across a broad array of investment sectors visit Kurdistan with us. Though Kurdistan has faced recent hardship due to its war against ISIS and budgetary pressures, it felt during this trip that Kurdistan is on the verge of overcoming these challenges. The US companies who came with us felt a warm welcome and saw enormous opportunities on the horizon.’

The group met with senior KRG officials, including Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, as well as Minister of Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami, Minister of Planning Ali Sindi, Minister of the Interior and (Acting) Peshmerga Karim Sinjari, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations Falah Mustafa Bakir, and Head of the Kurdistan Board of Investment Nouri Othman.

Prime Minister Barzani warmly welcomed the delegation, saying, ’Your visit is very timely. We are implementing economic reforms and trying to rebuild our economy. Your coming here at this time is a show of solidarity and support for the people, the Peshmerga and economy of Kurdistan.’

They held separate meetings with the Erbil Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Governor of Duhok, to discuss the potential for American investment in a variety of sectors.

The delegation visited two camps housing thousands of displaced Iraqis. In Shariya, USKBC members presented school uniforms and visited the Edge Institute, an American humanitarian project. At present, Kurdistan hosts more than 1.8 million refugee Syrians and internally displaced Iraqis, a number which is expected to rise dramatically as the Mosul liberation operations displace even more people.

The trip coincided with American University of Kurdistan’s conference on the future independence of Kurdistan, which the delegation attended. AUK, based in Duhok, is a member of the USKBC.

In Erbil, the delegation also the historic Citadel and a traditional local teahouse. The Citadel, recently designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the oldest continuously inhabited place in the world.

USKBC hosted a reception in Erbil in honor of the US Consul General Ken Gross at which Mr Gross, Minister Falah Mustafa and Representative Abdul Rahman spoke about the importance of Kurdistan’s relationship with the US. The American Kurdish Friendship Association hosted a separate dinner for the visitors.

They also met US, British, Iraqi and Peshmerga commanders at the Joint Coalition Coordination Center.

They concluded their visit by joining in Flag Day celebrations on December 17 at the Black Tiger Peshmerga base. The day is marked across Kurdistan as a way of showing respect to the multicolored flag and the rich heritage and struggle for liberty that it symbolizes.

Representative Abdul Rahman said, ‘I was delighted to lead this USKBC delegation to Kurdistan where they got to meet not only government officials but also representatives of the Erbil and Duhok Chambers of Commerce, Peshmerga commanders and NGOs working in the humanitarian field. I hope that the delegation got a rounded picture of Kurdistan, all the better to prepare them for decisions on trading with or investing in Kurdistan.’

See photos of the delegation here.
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