Sunday 23 June 2019

Kurdish and American chambers of commerce sign agreement for further cooperation

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq ( – The Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the United States Chamber of Commerce signed a memorandum of understanding on June 23, 2019, committing their organizations to further cooperation, with the goal of developing and diversifying Kurdistan Region’s economy and informing US businesses about the emerging Kurdistani market.

Dara Jalil Al-Khayat, President of the Kurdistan Federation, and Steve Lutes, Vice President of Middle East Affairs for the US Chamber of Commerce, signed the agreement for their respective organizations in the presence of several KRG officials including Minister Falah Mustafa, KRG Spokesman Safeen Dizayee, Erbil Governor Newzad Hadi and the KRG Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman. US Consul General Steve Fagin and the heads of the Slemani, Duhok, Kirkuk and Nineveh Chambers were also present.

Representative Abdul Rahman, speaking at the ceremony, said, ‘This MOU sets out a roadmap for cooperation between two vibrant and active organizations that promote enterprise and trade. But it also does more than that. It signals an important milestone in the development of Kurdistan Region’s economy. It represents the enduring respect and friendship between Kurdistan Region and the United States. I hope this agreement will pave the way for American and Kurdish companies to make new connections and new investments while strengthening a maturing and widening relationship.’

Mr Khayat and Mr Lutes both described the MOU as historic and the start of a bright future of partnership.

Minister Mustafa, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, said, ‘We are proud of what we have achieved in political and security relations but it’s important that in the future we also focus on economic and trade and investment relations.’

US Consul General Fagin said, ‘It’s truly a signal of deepening ties.’ He added, ‘The US government stands fully to support your efforts.’

Governor Hadi highlighted the role of the private sector in driving Kurdistan’s economy. He said, ‘Since 2003, there has been 35 billion IQD (Iraqi dinar) worth of investment in Erbil; 25 billion of that was from the private sector.’

The signing ceremony took place at the headquarters of the Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. It will be followed by a reception in the evening in the presence of Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani and American and Kurdish officials and businesses.

The signing of the MOU launches the start of a four-day visit to Erbil by a delegation of 29 American companies. The delegation is led by Mr Lutes and accompanied by US State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran Andrew Peek. The visit has been organized in cooperation with the KRG Representation in Washington DC and the group will meet with business leaders and senior KRG officials to learn more about investing and trade opportunities in the Kurdistan Region. The delegation includes US companies such as Citibank, BAT, Siemens USA, HKN and Hillwood.

The Kurdistan Region has attracted foreign direct investment from the US and other countries, a result of a stable environment and the favorable conditions for foreign companies defined in the 2006 KRG Investment Law.