Kurdistan delegation hears about investment opportunities in the UK




London, UK (KRG.org) - A Kurdistani trade delegation, led by Minister Falah Mustafa, heard about the potential for investment in the UK at a conference hosted by UKTI, Britain's trade ministry.


The conference last week also heard about how to do business in the Kurdistan Region and the opportunities there for international companies.

Minister Mustafa, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, and Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the High Representative to the UK, were joined by the heads of Kurdistan's three chambers of commerce, the investors' and contractors' associations and leading Kurdish business executives at the one-day event.

Minister Mustafa, addressing the conference, outlined the Kurdistan Region's economic growth and said that the Kurdistan Regional Government's open-door policy is attracting investors. The region's growth rate was 8 percent in 2012 and is expected to be over 10 percent this year, he said. 'This is the first time we have a Kurdish investment delegation visit the UK, something that we in the KRG welcome,' he said. 'We recognise that while Kurdistan is looking for international investors, there are also opportunities in Britain for Kurdish companies to take advantage of.'

The conference was also addressed by British Consul-General Hugh Evans, Nick Baird, UKTI's chief executive, Nadhim Zahawi MP and Lord Marland, the British Prime Minister's Trade Envoy who led a trade mission to Erbil in September.

Lord Marland said, 'I say to British businesses here if you haven't been to Kurdistan you're missing big opportunities. For those Kurdish companies who are here and want to invest in the UK, London house prices have gone up 30 percent this year. ' He added, 'These are two countries in need, two countries that are friends, that have a history together. These are two countries that have a bright and positive future together.'

Mr Zahawi spoke about his family's  experience of running a business in Kurdistan as well as the political and democratic progress in the region. He noted that the recent parliamentary elections had been competitive and attracted lively debate, with the outcome accepted by all sides, illustrating Kurdistan's commitment to democracy.  Mr Zahawi also highlighted the opportunities for investors in the UK. 'The UK is at the forefront of growth in Europe,' he said.

Paul Bate of Matterhorn Investment described how the capital markets can help Kurdistan's economy and gave examples, such as Thailand, of emerging markets that turned their fortunes with the rule of law,  openness to foreigners and other attributes.

The conference saw presentations by UKTI officials outlining the investment openings in British infrastructure projects and areas of the country that have been earmarked for regeneration.

Another panel spoke about how to do business in the Kurdistan Region. Dara Jalil Khayat, President of the Kurdistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, raised the question of visas for Kurdish business visitors to the UK and went on to outline the support that the chambers provide to local and international companies. The panel also included representatives of three leading British trade associations: the Middle East Association, British expertise and the Iraq Britain Business Council.

The final session focused on Britain's position as a world leader in architecture with presentations by several members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The conference enabled British and Kurdish companies to network and hold meetings in the sidelines.

Commenting on the conference, Ms Abdul Rahman,  said, 'This conference takes our commercial relationship with the UK in a new direction. Until now, we have been promoting Kurdistan as the destination for British investment. With this conference, UKTI has suggested that investment should go in both directions since there are wealthy and large companies in Kurdistan. This is a positive development and a further sign of the strength of the relationship between the two sides.'




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