US, Kurdistan Chambers of Commerce sign ‘significant’ agreement
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Representatives from the US Chamber of Commerce and their counterparts in the autonomous Kurdistan Region on Sunday signed a memorandum of understanding to further promote business and investment ties between the two.
The American delegation was led by Steve Lutes, Vice-President of Middle Eastern Affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce, who was accompanied by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State on Iran Andrew Peek and US Consul-General in Erbil Steven Fagin.
The memorandum was signed in the presence of the Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Department of Foreign Relations, Falah Mustafa, KRG Representative to the US Bayan Sami Rahman, Erbil Governor Nawzad Hadi, and officials from the Kurdistan Region’s Chamber of Commerce.
Following the deal, both sides praised the agreement in a joint press conference.
Responding to questions from a Kurdistan 24 reporter regarding the signing's significance, Dara Jalil Khayat, the President of Erbil Chamber of Commerce, called it a "historic day" for the Kurdistan Region in which it expanded its business relations with the US Chamber of Commerce.
He stated that, based on the memorandum, both sides will exchange business information and data as well as facilitate US firms to invest in the Kurdistan Region and participate in local exhibitions.
Lutes also praised the deal, stating, “For us, what this memorandum of understanding does is creates or formalizes a relationship between the Kurdistan Federation of Chambers and the US Chamber.”
“It creates a platform for the exchange of information… or exchange delegations and also a way to engage with our governments,” he responded to the question by Kurdistan 24. “So it’s a very important step forward.”
He also told reporters that the memorandum “symbolizes” the way they view the relationship between two chambers, “which is bright and strong.”
“There is something special going on here in the Kurdistan Region and in Iraq. We think there is a lot of momentum and interest, not just in energy, but across the economy, from agriculture, health, telecommunication, and logistics,” Lutes added.
The US delegation was representing 30 corporations and partners, among them AmCham Iraq, AmCham Jordan, Askar Global Enterprises, Automotive Management Services (AMS), British American Tobacco (BAT), Center for International Private Enterprise, Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, Cisco Systems, Citibank, CNH Industrial Services, and DAI Global.
The US Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business organization that alone represents the interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions.
The delegation will continue to hold meetings with local officials and firms until Wednesday.
Editing by John J. Catherine
(Additional reporting by Diyari Sheikha)