Washington - D.C., USA (us.gov.krd) - The Kurdistan Regional Government Representation in the United States took part in a virtual event highlighting the business outlook and opportunities in the Kurdistan Region, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's US-Iraq d Council on Monday, June 21.
Steve Lutes, the U.S.-Iraq Business Council President and Vice President of Middle East Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, moderated a distinguished KRG panel that included Safeen Dizayee, Head of the KRG's Department of Foreign Relations, Bayan Abdul Rahman, KRG Representative to the United States, Dr. Mohammed Shukri, Chairman of the Kurdistan Board of Investment, and Baz Karim, CEO of Kar Group. Other notable speakers included Robert Waller, the incoming U.S. Consul General in Erbil, Matthew Zais, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Affairs at the Department of Energy, Mark Rollins, Vice President, and member of the board of directors of HKN Energy.
The event also included officials from major American companies, U.S. government officials, the World Bank, and the Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The participants discussed a spectrum of issues concerning KRG economic reforms, investment opportunities, oil and gas development, and recent events in the Kurdistan Region.
Mr. Lutes confirmed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's commitment to expanding relations between the United States, Iraq--including the Kurdistan Region--and collaborating with Iraqi businesses and creating jobs. Mr. Lutes said that the Chamber believes in sustained focus on the economy as part of any continuing discussion with the Iraqi government and supports Baghdad and Erbil's current economic reform plan.
Minister Dizayee discussed Erbil-Baghdad relations and current efforts to resolve long-standing disputes and establishing a joint security mechanism between the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces and shed light on KRG's views on the US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue. Mr. Dizayee expressed KRG's commitment to diversifying the economy and creating more conducive economic conditions through reforms, improving transparency, and fighting corruption.
Ms. Abdul Rahman highlighted the mutual interests between the KRG and Baghdad in having sound political, economic, and security relations and emphasized the importance of reforming the banking system to make it easier for local and international companies to prosper.
Dr. Shukri highlighted KRG's efforts on diversifying the economy and creating a more conducive investment environment. Mr. Shukri said that the KRG is creating a one-stop-shop to reduce the time for obtaining an investment license from months to a few days. Moreover, the government is currently amending the investment law and reforming the tax system to make it more attractive for foreign investment. He also encouraged American companies to invest in the Kurdistan Region.
Mr. Karim discussed the KRG's efforts in increasing natural gas production and explained how the increase could help improve relations with Baghdad as it will help meet Iraq's energy needs. Mr. Zais expressed the U.S. government's commitment to helping Iraq and the Kurdistan Region to build their energy industry. Mr. Waller, who will be heading to Erbil soon as the new Consul General, emphasized the tremendous business opportunities for U.S. firms in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region and expressed his commitment to enhancing economic relations.