Could you provide our readers with a brief background of your Representation’s history?
The Representation was established in Sydney in 2009. We work to build a strong relationship between Australia and the Kurdistan Region, and also make businesses and entrepreneurs who wish to visit Kurdistan aware of its development and commercial opportunities. The Representation also serves those from Kurdistan who are now living in Australia, and supports the needs of Kurdistani-Australian citizens who want to return to live in Kurdistan. It assists students from Kurdistan who are studying in Australia by offering advice, liaising with universities, and processing necessary documents.
What does the Kurdistan Region offer to Australian business community?
Kurdistan is home to a thriving economy and a young, rapidly growing population. It is a region that is both rich in natural resources and governed by an investment law that benefits foreign investors. We are home to international banks and international airlines run regular flights that connect us to the world.
The relationship between Australia and Kurdistan is, and has for a long time been, positive. This relationship bolsters our efforts to become a modern state, with commercial and economic growth to support the ever-growing population.
There are several Australian companies working in the Region, some in energy and construction. There is plenty of room for more, particularly within industries such as agriculture, where Australia’s experience and the similarities of climate make Kurdistan an ideal investment.
We have yet to tap into the full potential of our mineral resources and our logistics, hospitality and tourism sectors. Australia’s expertise and experience in mining technology make it a natural partner for the full exploitation of Kurdistan’s natural resources.
We encourage the Australian business community to take full advantage of the current situation in Kurdistan. The liaison office in Australia will be pleased to provide Australian investors and companies with any information they like, and will provide assistance and support for their visit to Kurdistan.
What areas does your mission prioritize in terms of promoting Kurdistan in Australia?
For centuries, the Kurdistan Region was known as the ‘bread basket’ of the Middle East. However, with the destruction of thousands of villages during the reign of Saddam Hussein, the Region’s agricultural industry suffered immensely. It is only now slowly recovering; much expertise and knowledge has been lost. Australia is renowned for its agricultural industry and modern farming methods, and as such we encourage Australian firms to invest in restoring Kurdistan’s natural agricultural potential.
Higher education is a top priority in the Kurdistan Region, with a growing young population eager to gain knowledge and new skills. Australia has many internationally competitive universities, and investment in educational capacity building in the KRG will help build long-term relationships with universities in Australia and the KRG. These young people will be the future leaders of business and government in the KRG, and strengthened ties can only benefit the long-term relationship between Australia and Kurdistan. We would like to see a larger number of students from the Region discover the benefits of higher education in Australia. We hope to bring their knowledge and skills back to Kurdistan.
What is your key message to the Australian business community?
Before the rise of ISIS in mid-2014, Australia had designated the Kurdish Region a ‘safe area’ of Iraq. Unfortunately, the travel status was reverted to ‘unsafe’ with Australia advising its citizens not to travel to the Kurdistan Region. However, since the recent advances against ISIS, the KRG’s Australia office has been working hard to have the ‘safe’ status reintroduced for Kurdistan. In any case, international companies, banks and airlines continue to work in Kurdistan.
We encourage the Australian business community to take full advantage of the current situation in Kurdistan. The KRG provides a strong base from which to do business in the rest of Iraq while the current security situation is being resolved. We will be pleased to provide Australian companies with any information they like, and will provide assistance for their visit to the Kurdistan Region.