Canadian Business Opportunities to Be Boosted in Iraqi Kurdistan
|May 15, 2014||Filled under Iraqi Business News|
Iraqi Business News –
MONTREAL, Canada – A newly-opened Canadian trade mission in Erbil suggests that Kurdistan is seen as a land of opportunities for Canadian firms.
After 25 years of absence, Canada opened a diplomatic mission in Baghdad in April 2013, and a new trade office in Erbil last February.
“It was clear that in order to pursue our mutual interests, Canada needed to be more present on the ground in Iraq,” the office of Lynne Yelich, Canada’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, told Rudaw in an email interview. “Canada and Iraq’s trade and investment relationship is already strong but has enormous growth potential. It will be a central point of contact for Canadian firms who want to enter the Iraqi market,’’ the office said.
Recognizing Iraq as a key partner in the region, especially since the regime there in 2003, Canada has been showing interest in an economic partnership.
“The Government of Canada believes there is an opportunity in Iraq. They have officially opened two offices,’’ Sandra Leblanc, president of the Canada-Arab Business Council (CABC) told Rudaw.
According to the Office of the Minister of State, the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird opened Canada’s new diplomatic mission in Baghdad last year “as part of our commitment to expand our engagement with a key regional player.’’
This new approach to Iraq is in accordance with Canada’s customary caution when dealing with countries with armed conflict and countries with high security risks and instability.
“Canada is cautious in handling situations that are not yet stable. It was similar with Lebanon and it is still Canada’s position with any given countries with armed conflict,’’ said Georges Berberi, head of the Iraq-Canada Business Council (ICBC).
Berberi thinks that fair and democratic elections in Iraq, a degree of greater political stability and the lifting of sanctions on Iraq were strong signs for Canada to restart talks it had initiated in the 1980s with Iraq. ‘’Canada is now catching up on lost time,” he said.
“Reconstruction efforts in Iraq will continue to create significant business opportunities for Canadian companies who have become increasingly involved in the infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, housing and power generation sectors,’’ said the Office of the Minister of State.
According to the Office of the Minister of State, the Iraqi economy is one of the fastest growing in the region. “It is Canada’s largest two-way trading partner in the Middle East, with bilateral trade amounting to over $4.3 billion (CDN) in 2012, an increase of 63 percent over 2011.’’
The Canada-Arab Business Council (CABC) said that it had worked for 18 months to organize the official Canadian visit to Iraq and Kurdistan Region.
The delegation included business representatives from major Canadian companies, such as Talisman Energy Inc. that is already doing oil exploration in Kurdistan, SNC-Lavalin that has started a pipeline project in Basra, and plane-maker Bombardier that is looking into ways of getting into Iraq.
Some Canadian companies are already present in the Kurdistan Region, which remains the only peaceful portion of Iraq.
“Many of the Canadian companies who operate in Iraq have large investments in Iraqi Kurdistan, which is one of the region’s most stable areas,’’ explained the Office of the Minister.
Choosing Erbil as a base for its trade offices shows Canada’s confidence in Erbil as an economic hub in Iraq.
“Canada’s Trade Office in Erbil is responsible for trade with all of Iraq. It will also serve as a gateway to expanding our dialogue with Iraqi Kurdistan as an important part of Canada’s re-engagement with Iraq,’’ the Office of the Minister of State said.
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