Lubna Al Qasimi participates in “Investment in Iraq’s Kurdistan” forum
UAE Minister of Foreign Trade Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi recently participated in the “Investment in Iraq’s Kurdistan” forum held at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. She was joined by Kurdish Prime Minster Dr. Barham Salih and a number of businessmen and investors from the UAE and Iraq.
In her speech, she welcomed the Kurdish economic delegation and underlined the deep brotherly relationship between the UAE and Iraq. She pointed out the mutual support provided by their countries in order to uplift trade and economic ties. She also referred to the appointment of the UAE ambassador in Baghdad, which she said affirmed the UAE's commitment to strengthening ties with Iraq at all levels, especially in terms of security and the economy.
Sheikha Lubna also pointed out the significant growth in trade between the UAE and Iraq over the past few years, saying that bilateral exchange increased by 28 per cent between 2006 and 2008 to reach more than USD 3 billion. This, she underscored, proved the effectiveness of government and private sector efforts to enhance trade and economic ties between the two countries. Her Excellency also discussed the significant increase in non-oil exports to the Iraqi market, which rose more than 89 per cent over 2007 to hit USD 358 million in 2008. She added that re-exports from the UAE to Iraq fell 5.7 per cent but still amounted to a high USD 2.6 billion, despite the global downturn.
The UAE Minister emphasized the need to further enhance exchange and maximize investment prospects as well as leverage incentives such as geographic location, historic bonds and growing economic activities, even if both nations already enjoy excellent bilateral trade channels. She pointed out the importance of efficiently providing key facilities in areas such as taxes and customs to companies from both sides.
She further referred to the advantages enjoyed by UAE companies that adopt a culture of world-class quality, reliability, transparency and commitment to swift project implementation, in line with highest international standards. She confirmed that the Emirates is currently directing investments towards Kurdistan, as UAE companies are highly capable of exploring promising investment opportunities and maintaining competitiveness in the regional and international markets. Moreover, she said that Iraq is one of the most important Arab destinations for UAE investments in the near future, as part of the Emirates’ reform plans and agenda of greater economic openness.
Sheikha Lubna commended the economic reforms and expanding openness being witnessed in Kurdistan and throughout Iraq despite numerous challenges and encouraged the continuity of this trend. She explained that this would be in line with international economic efforts to motivate investors and businessmen to sustain their search for opportunities and develop mutual cooperation.
The Trade Minister concluded by underlining the importance of the forum in facilitating the sharing of experiences and best practices, especially from the prominent businessmen and investors attending from both countries. She expressed her hope in seeing more similar initiatives aimed at highlighting the best mechanisms and tools needed to reinforce mutual cooperation at all levels.
For his part, Dr. Salih also commended efforts from the UAE to support Iraq’s investment environment, calling out for more mutual cooperation in exploring promising sectors such as oil, gas, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, hospitality, banking, financial services, infrastructure, and construction.
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