Projects worth $24 billion licensed in Iraq’s Kurdish north

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By Fareed Hussein

Azzaman, January 31, 2013

The Investment Commission in the Kurdish region has licensed 517 project worth $24.3 billion, new statistics by the commission reveal.

The statistics issued show a surge in private applications to start new projects in the autonomous region comprising the provinces of Dahouk, Arbil and Sulaimaniya.

The commission said most of the projects would be implemented by local firms. However, firms mainly from Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt will be taking part.

Private entrepreneurs are starting new businesses and projects in Iraq’s Kurdish north, benefiting from its relative quiet in comparison with the rest of the country.

The Kurds also have their own investment law which allows foreigners to start and own a business without having to rely on local partners.

But most of the flurry of construction in Iraqi Kurdistan is related to property and more than half of the investments will be spent on housing.

The region lacks an industrial or agricultural base and relies almost solely on imports for industrial goods and agriculture produce.

Only 15% of the commission’s investment is directed to industrial start-ups.

Entrepreneurs avoid building industries and agricultural projects because of the unrestricted flow of cheap goods and food stuffs from neighboring states and countries in Southeast Asia mainly china.

Labor is expensive in Iraqi Kurdistan and many Kurds now shun menial jobs, which are now filled by expatriates from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India.