KRG UK Representation in partnership with the British Expertise International and British Consulate General in Erbil hosts a virtual event on business opportunities in Kurdistan

London, UK, 20th October 2021-  A one-day virtual event was held in collaboration with the British Expertise International and the British Consulate General in Erbil to present significant opportunities for expanding inward and outward investments between the UK and Kurdistan Region.  The event featured essential keynotes from a range of speakers, exploring the KRG’s economic priorities and increasing export opportunities for UK businesses. It was chaired by Robin Mackenzie, Group Marketing Director at BEI. 

Mr Karwan Jamal Tahir, the KRG High Representative to the UK set out the scene and highlighted the breadth and diversity of opportunities available to the UK businesses in the Kurdistan Region. He said:

“The UK and Kurdistan Region are key trading partners. The bilateral economic relationship is strong and growing, and the trade flows have increased significantly in recent years. There are around 215 UK Companies operating in KR across sectors, including Jaguar and land rover in which more than 1b dollar worth of trade has taken place between KR and UK, 100m dollar annually. As we look to our future, we have many opportunities but also many policy choices that must be made to achieve sustainable economic growth.”

High Representative Karwan added:

“The government is pursuing reforms to make it easier to do business, including more privatisation in the agricultural and electricity sectors, expanding digital government services, reducing red tape for business registration and visas, strengthening tax laws, and modernising the banking sector.”

From the UK perspective, Mr David Hunt, Her Majesty’s new Consulate-General to Erbil described the Kurdistan Region as:

“A very pro-British for a variety of reasons. It is a historical relationship; the UK was the prime mover in standing up operations safe-haven 30 years ago which protected the Kurdish from attack by Saddam Hussein following the first Gulf war. We have a significant presence within the Kurdistan region of Iraq. We are a close security partner and furthermore, we have a significant diplomatic presence here. We are present on the ground as long as we remain of value and wanted by the KRI and wider Iraq. Business has a good platform on which it could build and there are a number of priority sectors which we looking to work with business to develop, for example, export is increasing significantly in areas of renewable energy, education, consumer goods, infrastructure as well as digital and technology.”

The event was also addressed by Mr Hakeem Wlya Mohammed, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Construction and Housing where he offered an overview of the existing legal, regulatory, and governance structure to support the Public-Private Partnership (PPPs). He said:

To strengthen its robustness and reliability for both the KRG and private sector stakeholders as well as to promote a unified approach for preparing and implementing investment projects, the PPPs Framework shall be of broad application across all sectors.”

On the Healthcare outlook, Mr Pola Saadi Ali, Head of Engineering Department at Ministry of Health stated that:

“The COVID-19 pandemic is placing an enormous strain on the healthcare sector in Kurdistan and there is a need for major reforms and investments to reform the healthcare services.”

Furthermore, Mrs Shilan Khalil Junaid, the General Director of Basic Education and Kindergarten at the KRG Ministry of Higher Education shared the Ministry’s vision to restructure and upgrade the education sector in Kurdistan. She said:

The main priority areas of focus are boosting vocational education, modifying the curriculum and also improving the quality of teaching in Kurdistan.”

On the procurement process, Mr Marwan Ibraheem Shikh, Commercial Lead at the Prime Minister’s Office spoke of the procurement process in the Kurdistan Region. He stated that:

“The vision of the H.E. the Prime Minister, which our office supports, is to encourage the privatisation of public services wherever there could be a benefit to the people of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. We are also keen to move towards a more strategic approach to procurement and contracting where suppliers are treated as trusted partners who can help the government achieve its objectives. We see suppliers as key partners in our quest for the economic development of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and to build the necessary confidence in the market so that more partners can come to the region.”

Finally, James Gallagher, Director of DIT Iraq offered the DTI’s support to the British businesses in the Kurdistan Region. He stated that:

“The UK is keen to connect the British expertise with opportunities in the Kurdistan Region and to help the KRI with its own sustainable development.  

The event was concluded by a Q&A session where a number of questions were raised around current projects in the education sector.