Kurdistan official talks foreign investment, economy with World Bank delegation

Both sides spoke “at length [about] current initiatives for the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.”
author_image Kurdistan 24

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Strategies for how best to increase foreign investment and economic growth in the Kurdistan Region led discussions between Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) Chancellor, Masrour Barzani, and representatives of the World Bank on Thursday.

Chancellor Barzani met with World Bank Group Executive Director Merza Hasan and an accompanying delegation in Erbil to discuss “a range of important issues,” a KRSC statement said.

During the meeting, the senior Kurdish official “commended the constructive engagement” between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq. He also “expressed his strong commitment to continuing the KRG’s reform agenda.”

Both sides “agreed doing so will drive foreign investment and economic growth,” the statement added. Barzani and Hasan also spoke “at length [about] current initiatives for the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.”

The Kurdistan Region, which witnessed ongoing prosperity and security in past decades when compared to other parts of Iraq, suffered a critical economic crisis between 2014 and 2017.

The fiscal downturn emerged in 2014 after Baghdad stopped releasing Erbil’s share of the national budget. According to senior Kurdish officials, other factors had an effect as well, including the fight against the Islamic State, an international drop in oil prices, and the influx of 1.8 million refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Syria and other parts of Iraq to the Kurdistan Region.

In 2017, many foreign investors and companies began to leave after the KRG’s September independence referendum, which saw a landslide majority favoring statehood, followed by Baghdad’s collective punitive measures which included embargoes and an international flight ban on the region’s airports.

Relations between Erbil and Baghdad began to ease in the first few months of 2018 with airports being re-opened for international flights and the economy making its first steps toward recovery.

Over the past year, the KRG has tried to boost the autonomous region’s finances and attract foreign investment in various fields, especially after recovering from the critical financial crisis it had suffered since 2014.

In December, local officials from Kurdistan's investment board said that investment in the region had considerably increased over the past few months, reaching a total of $3.67 billion. 

Editing by John J. Catherine