KRG UK High Representative opening speech to the Kurdistan Economic Forum

It gives me great pleasure to be at this virtual Kurdistan Economic Forum platform today with you to discuss the important issues of Kurdistan Region’s economy 

I am particularly pleased that this forum is in collaboration between CWC and KRG Representation and will be an annual conference from now on, which would have multi-faceted benefits.

We hoped that we could do this forum in real life, but as covid19 has a significant effect on humanity’s health, similarly it has constituted a deep impact on the economy as well as cultural and social life, therefore this was the second-best to do.

But I hope even after it is over, we continue to benefit from this way of interacting and doing business as it is greatly beneficial.

Attendees

We initiated to change the name of the conference from Oil & Gas conference, to Economic Forum, to be inclusive of all sectors including the hydrocarbon, and in fact, this would reflect the government’s manifesto for diversification and non-reliance mostly on oil revenues.

That doesn’t mean  the oil and gas has depreciated or  lost its importance, the contrary is true, and that the oil and gas sector remain important source and must be further developed to help the other sectors to progress.

It is evident that there is a number of dignities, professions, policy and decision makers in the distinguished panels throughout this two days forum, which is a testament of the great deal of importance that my government place on this pressing issues, I am sure it will be beneficial brainstorming sessions were they will elaborate more eloquently on the details, policies and strategy, therefore I will only make a few points from our diplomatic mission’s point of view. 

What is our mission’s priority and what we do?

And what the diversification means to us?

And what we envisage from the UK companies.

Our Mission

have been mandated to promote deeper economic link and build more commercial relations with the UK through providing information and regular updates on the situation in Kurdistan and to deliver an annual programme of high quality trade missions to markets of strategic importance

we focus on different domains, politically we maintain a special and historical relationship with the UK and it is deeply rooted, there is many shared values and interests at all levels, including security co-operation and economy that we can build on.

Our Representation is working steadfastly to create more links between our two nations through government-to-government interactions, scientific and education links, and cultural connections. We work with officials and business bodies to expand areas of interest between the KRI and Britain. 

One of our top priority is to revive economic relations after years of severe challenges to the KRI, and further strengthen trade and investment.

Such commercial ties are at the heart of our endeavours, so both sides can benefit from the opportunities and jobs that trade and investment creates.

Developing the oil and gas sector was vital in the last decades for Kurdistan Region, but KRG policy now is to shift away from excessive reliance on energy revenues. This realisation was come to term when we hit by multiple shocks including the decline of oil price that clearly exposed us to great risk affected our financial situation and social unrest.

Therefore, my government decided to fulfil the pledge of diversification as it is vital for sustainable long-term economic growth and become central to our economic and social strategies.

Of course, many challenges arise when pursuing a diversification strategy, but there are also many benefits that could arise from more diversified economies. These include less exposure to external shocks, higher productivity of labour and effective public management that will help promote human and social developments.

I believe that economic diversification does not occur in vacuum, it needs considerable and collective political commitments and an environment to make diversification possible with Political and economic reforms.

It is increasingly recognised that economic diversification cannot be successful without them, however I also believe we in Kurdistan Region has started the process.

To name some :

  • The government has set the investment priorities as agriculture because it has the potential and would become food security for Kurdistan and of course developing the sector will create jobs. Then Industry, which plays a critical role in our economic development policy, and tourism as Kurdistan is a historical land with breath-taking natural beauty filled with enchanting landscapes, waterfalls, rivers, lakes, and mountains that can become a destination for tourists from all over the world to visit Kurdistan to go cliff-climbing, mountaineering, and hiking, even skiing, coupled with our welcoming culture, stability, and security are also key attributes, attracting tourists.

I am pleased to say that these sectors are open to foreign investors.

  • KRG also committed to a comprehensive reform withing the public and privet sectors to restore fiscal balance, also to revisit the regulatory framework for foreign investment to be in line with today’s circumstances in coordination with Kurdistan Parliament
  • This year my government has announced many strategic infrastructure projects across Kurdistan Region from highway roads, industry and dams which contribute to diversification objectives, creating 1000th opportunities that would direct the nation from been consumer only to become a productive nation.

We want to encouraged SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises) to get involved in the opportunities that the process of diversification provides.

My government pledged to use the oil and gas wealth to diversify the economy and establish a sovereign wealth fund for the development of future generations, we know that through a sovereign wealth fund the government can partner with leading equity firms to attract investment to the country and invest globally.

Ladies  & Gentleman

In conclusion, the KRG is pursuing a long-term development strategy to underpin regional economic growth and prosperity. This new momentum for reforms will create new opportunities for foreign investors, civil society, and our economy.

Economics and politics are inseparable from security and stability, which are vital to the wellbeing of businesses. My central message is that we offer security and stability, as well as substantial reforms to encourage and assure foreign investors, which will allow the KRI to become a major business destination.

 For our ‘UK is partner, we envisage an increase in the number of British companies across all sectors of Kurdistan’s economy, with agriculture, industry and tourism being priorities in the KRG’s economic development plan. The scope of opportunities for British businesses is immense and we hope they will be able to take advantage of it.

There are many opportunities in KRI which has much to offer to international investors and the international community.

 I ask businesses and people to take a good look at what we offer and recognise our huge potential.