Iraqi Kurdistan is a semi-autonomous region within Federal Iraq. Following the invasion of Iraq in 2003, subsequent political changes led to a new constitution being ratified in 2005. The constitution defines Iraqi Kurdistan as a federal entity in Iraq, and Iraqi Kurdistan has its own parliament, prime minister and president. The Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament (formerly known as the Kurdistan National Assembly and established in 1992), has wide ranging powers to enact legislation, with significant pieces of social, political and economic legislation such as the modern and generous Investment Law, a Petroleum Law and legislation was passed in 2010 that established an Environmental Protection and Improvement Board.
Power is broadly divided between two major parties in Iraqi Kurdistan, namely the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The influence of these two parties is broadly divided between the north and south of the country, with the KDP controlling Erbil and Dohuk and the PUK the governorate of Suleimaniyah. However, in 2009 a new party called the Change Movement (sometimes referred to as ‘Gorran’) was established and it now has 25 seats in the Iraqi Kurdish parliament and is most active in the Suleimaniyah governorate. By contrast, the KDP has 30 seats in the parliament and the PUK, 29. Iraqi Kurdistan also has several Islamist parties represented in the 111-seat parliament.
The government of Iraq has begun large-scale plans to upgrade its water and sanitation infrastructure. There has been strong UK engagement with the Ministry of Municipalities and Public works across the country. Major UK companies are in the running for huge contracts worth billions of dollars in the Iraqi Kurdistan region.
Additionally the government of Iraq considers their healthcare system to be modelled on that of the UK. It’s keen for the UK to help shape a healthcare blueprint. The UK is well placed to work with Iraq’s central government and local healthcare providers. Discussions between Healthcare UK and the Kurdistan Regional Government are underway.
Iraq, including the Iraq Kurdistan Region, is open for business. However, this is a challenging, high risk, but potentially high return market in which to do business.
David Lloyd, Senior Consultant at the MEA, led a trade mission to Kurdistan 4 – 8 October. The three members were Darren Coggins, European Textile Recycling; Paul Tweedale, Tenbroeke; and Borzoo Chaharlang, Multi-Tek International. Nawal Karim, Director of Trade and Investment Relations, KRG, accompanied us and arranged all the details of our programme which was in two parts.
"In Erbil, we called on the Ministers of Housing and Reconstruction; Agriculture; and Transportation and Commerce. Private sector meetings included the Zagros Group and 77 Construction and Contracting. There were discussions, too, with the Erbil Chamber of Commerce and a Reception hosted by the Kurdistan British Business Group. In Dohuk we called on the Governor, HE Farhad Atrushi, and Chairman of the Duhok Chamber of Commerce. Governor Atrushi briefed us on the Rwanga Community Refugee Camp which we subsequently visited and which will be written up separately on the MEA website.
At Akle, we visited a low cost housing complex being built by the Mass Company. Our final engagement was a networking reception at the Rotana Hotel in Erbil hosted by the Business Express Group. This was an excellent mission and we were given a warm welcome; many useful contacts were made across the board. Times are difficult for Kurdistan, it is fighting on three fronts: an economy severely weakened by the failure of the Federal Government to pay it its share of national revenue, not even to help with the refugee crisis; the refugee crisis itself which numbers 1.8 million; and keeping IS at bay with minimal assistance. We were glad to be there, to show our support for our Kurdish friends in their time of adversity and to fly the British flag. Kurdistan will emerge from all this, but it looks especially to the UK for material help."
The Kurdistan region of Iraq is a stable, vibrant and dynamic environment which has seen dramatic economic growth and development and can serve as an excellent gateway for companies to enter the wider Iraqi market. At least 97 UK companies are registered in Kurdistan, making the UK the fifth largest foreign presence in the region. British-Kurdish relations are strong, and British business is welcomed and encouraged for the high quality of its skills, expertise, and products. Iraqi Kurdistan’s growing oil sector remains of particular interest to foreign companies, with 50 foreign companies currently operating in the region with investments totalling between US$15-US$20bn. However, there is a huge demand for a wide variety of other products and services across a multitude of sectors, spanning agriculture, health, education, infrastructure, banking & finance, communication and transport.
The Middle East Association (MEA) enjoys excellent relations with the Kurdistan Regional Government. We were the first association to take a trade mission to Iraqi Kurdistan in 2006 and our long-standing relationship with the region means that MEA members and delegates on our trade missions gain an unparalleled level of insight and access to businesses and decision makers. A visit to this fascinating region is essential. The MEA continues to take at least two trade missions per year to Iraqi Kurdistan and organises briefings for companies regarding the opportunities on offer in this rapidly developing and exciting region.
For companies interested in learning more about Iraqi Kurdistan and the opportunities on offer, the first point of contact should be with the Kurdistan Regional Government’s UK Representation in London.
Please not the KRG UK representation does not provide consular services at their Buckingham Gate office.
For all other purposes, an appointment is necessary before visiting the KRG Representation. Contact details are as follows:
23 Buckingham Gate
London SW1E 6LB
Telephone: 0203 301 8340
Fax: 0207 828 0257
Erbil Chamber of Commerce
Nearly 20,000 members as of 2008, of which 16,000 were registered as trading companies, about
1,000 were industrial firms and over 2,000 were other types of businesses.
President: Mr Dara Jalil Khayat
Tel: +964 (0)66 2222014, +964 (0)66 2222162, +964 (0)66 2230671
Visiting address: Aras Street, Chamber of commerce BLDG., Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq
Suleimaniyah Chamber of Commerce
Over 30,000 members
President: Mr Sirwan Mohamed Mahmood
Tel: +964 (0)53 312 3293 / 3772 / 6845. Fax: +964 (0)52 312 6985
Visiting address: Sulaimany Salim St, Opp. Sulaimany Museum, SCC Building, Kurdistan Region, Iraq
Dohuk Chamber of Commerce
President: Mr Ayad H. Abdul Halim
Alternative email: email@example.com
Tel: +964 (0)750 471 7827
Mr Abdulsalam Salih al-Doski - Adviser, Tel:
+964 (0)62 722 1647
Mr Mustafa Ramazan Ahmed - Manager, Tel:
+964 (0)62 722 4633
The Kurdistan Contractors Union represents local contracting companies.
President: Mr Ahmad Aziz Rekani
Tel: +964 (0)53 321 0496
Tel: +964 (0)7701 433333
Tel: +964 (0)7701435822
Tel: +964 (0)750 112 6969