Last week I attended, and gave remarks at the Kurdistan Region’s “Gateway to Iraq” two-day trade and investment conference in London, joined by more than 500 delegates from around the world.
The June 15-16 conference was hosted by the Kurdistan Regional Government U.K. Representation, with strong support from the UK government, and was designed to provide insight into foreign investment opportunities in the Kurdistan Region. The conference was well attended by a wide range of companies such as HSBC, Pepsico, Caterpillar, Lufthansa, Shell, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Motorola, as well as embassies like Germany, Spain, Turkey, the United States and the Czech Republic.
Currently, the majority of investment in the Kurdistan Region comes from Turkey and Lebanon, but conferences like these allow for other foreign companies and governments to learn about the potential of the Region. The U.A.E. has since announced its plans to double investment in the Kurdistan Region to $6 billion by 2013, citing the Kurdistan Region as an important partner.
With over 1,200 foreign companies already present in the area, the Kurdistan Region’s economy is predicted to outpace Iraq’s expected overall growth rate of 7.3 percent this year.
The Region’s investment sectors continue to evolve, now reaching into the telecom, IT, infrastructure and agriculture sectors. Additionally, the financial industry is also taking off, with HSBC considering opening branches in the Region and a new stock exchange set to launch later this year.
The Kurdistan Region’s growth potential remains extensive, and as we hold more trade and investment conferences, we look forward to developing relationships with new international business partners. The London conference was an enormous success, largely thanks to the KRG U.K. team who worked tirelessly to organize the conference.