Nechirvan Barzani hails Erbil, Washington ties

<p style="text-align:left">President of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani on Sunday (June 23) hailed the potential benefits of local investment by US companies, saying that the Region had worked diligently to create a friendly business environment.

Barzani made the remarks during an event in Erbil aimed at boosting ties between the Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the US Chamber of Commerce.
&ldquo;We view US friendship, assistance, and support with an eye of appreciation and respect,&rdquo; he said.
In attendance at the event was US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State on Iran Andrew Peek, US Ambassador to Iraq Mathew Tueller, Consul-General in Erbil Steven Fagin, and US Chamber of Commerce Vice-President of Middle Eastern Affairs Steve Lutes.
Also present were Kurdistan Regional Government&rsquo;s (KRG) Department of Foreign Relations Falah Mustafa, Finance and Economy Minister Rebaz Hamlan, KRG Representative in Washington Bayan Sami Abdulrahman, and Governor of Sulaimani Haval Abubakr.
Citing the close cooperation between the US and the Region to defeat Islamic State, Barzani said it was time to harness that spirit and apply it to the task of boosting the Kurdistan Region&rsquo;s economy after five years of economic crisis and war.
&ldquo;This is the phase after Daesh [Islamic State], after war. It is a phase of calmness and stability. It is time for reconstruction, evolution, and service,&rdquo; he said.
&ldquo;We eagerly await the US private sector and investment playing an important role here…[US companies] can invest in many fields in the Kurdistan Region such as infrastructure, reconstruction, upgrading the service sectors, technology, communications, health, education, industry, and agriculture.&rdquo;
Barzani also argued that investment in the Region could be a way to link US companies to projects in central and southern Iraq.
&ldquo;You can use the Kurdistan Region as a gateway to the larger Iraqi market,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Your presence is not only important for the Kurdistan Region, but also for Iraq.&rdquo;
He also cited the improvement in relations between Erbil and Baghdad as an opportunity to be seized and said that both sides could learn lessons from the past.
&ldquo;There are attempts to resolve the problems with Baghdad…both sides should profit from [past] mistakes.&rdquo;
Acknowledging that the Kurdistan Region and Iraq have had difficulty attracting investment because of their struggles in stamping out corruption, Barzani said that the KRG had taken a number of steps to address the issue.
&ldquo;In light of their roles associated with transparency and legal facilitation, we will continue to foster in government and Parliament to make more a better environment for investment to give greater assurance to investors.&rdquo;
In cooperation with the KRG, the US Chamber of Commerce is currently leading an investment trip around the Region. Representatives of more than two-dozen US companies are participating.
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