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Prime Minister Barzani’s speech at the conference on economic relations with Iran

FRI, 4 MAY 2018 20:52 | KRG Cabinet

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) – Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani spoke at a conference, held in Erbil, on the development of economic relations between the Kurdistan Region and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Below is the transcript of Prime Minister Barzani’s speech:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning. I welcome you all to this Conference on the development of economic relations between the Kurdistan Region and the Islamic Republic of Iran. With Iraq’s Minister of Industry and Minerals Mr. Mohammed al-Sudani and KRG Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Qubad Talabani, I welcome Iran’s Minister of Industry Dr. Shariatmadari.

I also welcome governors from Iranian provinces, especially the Governor of Urmia, our neighbor. I also welcome Iran’s Ambassador to Iraq Mr. Iraj Masjedi.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank the Secretariat of the Kurdistan Regional Government Economic Council, the Chambers of Commerce of the Kurdistan Region, relevant authorities in the Kurdistan Region, as well as the KRG Acting Minister of Trade and Industry, and all participants and organizers of this conference. I hope it will lead to more effective steps in the development of economic relations between the Kurdistan Region and the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Iraq in general, that will be helpful in finding solutions to the issues that exist among us.

The KRG, which has many common interests with Iran, pays great importance to economic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The KRG supports all activities aimed at achieving further development of our economic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The KRG has continuously worked to develop, expand, and diversify these relations. The latest annual volume of trade between the Kurdistan Region and Iran is $6.5 billion dollars, which exceeds 25 per cent of our total imports. 

The Kurdistan Region imports 67 per cent of vehicles through Iran and there are 359 Iranian companies in the Kurdistan Region, most are involved in trading. In addition, there are 135 Iranian factories in the Kurdistan Region providing hundreds of jobs in various fields.

Commercial activities between the Kurdistan Region and Iran occur through three international border crossings at Pervez Khan, Haji Omran, and Beshmakh. We seek to convert some of the five secondary border-crossings into international border crossings.

To develop economic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the KRG has made serious efforts toward establishing a free trade zone at Pervez Khan. We have taken practical steps and allocated a site, but more effective steps are still needed from both sides and by the Iraqi government.

We hope this conference will help prepare the way to determine solutions to the issues that stand in the way of this project, so implementation can begin.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Recent talks between the KRG and the Iraqi government have solved some issues related to border crossings, customs, and international trade within the framework of the Iraqi Constitution, and there are ongoing talks to solve all issues quickly. These talks are anticipated to support expansion of economic activity of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The reorganization of business, commercial, and other economic activities between the KRG and the Iraqi federal government on the basis of the Constitution will be an incentive for businesspeople, including traders and investors. More opportunity for employment through increased trade and investment with Iran are goals we work to achieve.

I take this opportunity to invite companies, traders, businesspeople, and investors in Iran, the Kurdistan Region, and Iraq to increase and expand work in the fields of trade, investment, joint projects, and all such economic activities for which the KRG offers all assistance, support, and facilities.

The Kurdistan Region shares a long border with the Islamic Republic of Iran and our markets are close to each other. Opportunities to diversify and expand economic activities between us readily exist and we look forward to rapid growth.

The people of the Islamic Republic of Iran are long standing friends of the people of Kurdistan Region of Iraq. In difficult times, Iran opened its doors to refugees of Iraqi Kurdistan and helped them. Iran also helped the Kurdistan Region in the war against ISIS, which is fully appreciated by the government and people of Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The people of Kurdistan will not forget those days, and will always consider their old relations with Iran, with appreciation and gratitude.

Iran is an important neighbor with the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. Good relations among us are vital to growth in employment and trade. We look forward to furthering our good relations and improving cooperation and coordination with Iran in many sectors.

We believe and work to ensure that our relations, especially economic relations through trade, with the Islamic Republic of Iran be long-term and strategic. The Kurdistan Region and Iraq need the successful experiences of Iran in many areas, especially in industry and agriculture. We endeavor and plan to cooperate and provide all support and facilities in these areas.

Once again I welcome you all, and thank the organizers of this conference and I wish them success. I hope it will lead to good results for further development in the relations and trade between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq with the Islamic Republic of Iran and produce positive recommendations and proposals to the government and concerned parties in both Iraq and Iran.

Once again, I welcome you all, and welcome again to Dr. Shariatmadari.

Thank you.