How would you characterize the environment for trade and industry in Kurdistan? What are your key projects in 2015?
While negative effects on regional trade because of recent regional developments have been perceived in many economies, we believe that Kurdistan has been able to successfully manage these fluctuations. Also, problems between Erbil and Bagdad because of disagreements over the budget affected our economy. We are happy, however, to be solving the budgetary and oil export issues with the central government.

In 2015, we have four priorities: regulating the market, amending laws and regulations, setting up four industrial zones, and boosting our trade ties with our neighbors. Our main objective, however, is to set up four industrial zones in the Kurdistan Region in 2015. We strongly believe that building those industrial zones is critically important for the Region’s economic development.

In 2015, we have four priorities: regulating the market, amending laws and regulations, setting up four industrial zones, and boosting our trade ties with our neighbors.

How would you characterize the FDI environment in Kurdistan?
First of all, Kurdistan has a favorable legal framework for foreign investment. We have one of the most friendly investment laws in the region. Secondly, Kurdistan enjoys political and social stability. Thirdly, the KRG strongly supports FDI to increase the economic growth of Kurdistan. Fourthly, the Region has enormous natural resources. With all those factors on the ground, the Kurdistan Region has attracted over $39 billion of investment over the last decade.

We believe that FDI will provide new employment opportunities, bring us know-how, and improve local production. Despite the recent regional turmoil on our borders, we expect FDI to continue over the coming years since Kurdistan presents many advantages as a destination for foreign investment.

What are the Ministry’s plans to further increase the economy’s attractiveness for FDI?

Over the last few years, Kurdistan has undertaken institutional reforms to improve the environment for doing business. We have simplified procedures to reduce the time needed to obtain licenses and revised the forms related to the payment of taxes and fees. Our focus is to amend laws and regulations to invite more companies.

We have prioritized three sectors– industry, agriculture, and tourism– which are playing a critical role in our FDI policy. We will continue to invite foreign companies to invest in those sectors. We are planning to organize visits abroad in order to promote investment opportunities in Kurdistan, especially in those crucial sectors.

What would you say to those in the foreign business community who are concerned about recent regional events?

Kurdistan is a safe, stable region with functioning democratic institutions. We believe that the current situation will be short-lived. It is important to remember that we have managed to establish a free market economy and democratic institutions. We understand the concerns that come from recent events. We want peace and stability, which are the only ways to guarantee that we can achieve our aspirations for social and economic development.