Asharq Al-Awsat, London – Newroz Amin, a representative from the Kurdistan Investment Authority revealed that “Over 105 investment projects worth over US $16 billion in the regions of Erbil, Sulaymaniyah and Duhok have been recorded.”
Amin, the director general of legal, financial and administrative affairs at the Kurdistan Investment Authority spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat from her office in Erbil; she said, “All of these projects are independent of the regional government; we do not hold any shares in them. These are private company investment projects.”
“The projects encompass various fields including tourism, production, agriculture, finance, education (private universities), health (private hospitals), commerce (the construction of shopping centers) and housing,” she added.
“16 percent of the investment projects are funded by foreign investors, 25 percent of investment projects are funded by foreign and local investors, and 59 percent of investors are Iraqi,” explained Newroz Amin.
Amin also discussed recently authorized projects; “One newly approved investment project was the Damac company project, the capital of which will reach over US $6 billion. The project will be implemented over two stages; each stage will cost US $3 billion dollars and will take five years to complete.”
“Erbil, or Hewler as it is known in Kurdish, has been transformed into a large construction site with the building of two large hotels; the Grand Rotana Hotel and Le Royale Hotel. In addition, American Village, a large residential project, as well as the English Village and the Italian Village are being built. Residential, tourism and production investment projects are being established in Sulaymaniyah and Duhok and a German Village in Sulaymaniyah is under construction next to three cement factories,” she added.
Amin pointed out that “There are many factors for success in the region, the most prominent of which are perhaps the stability of security and the standards of procedure according to fixed laws. Moreover, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Nechirvan Barzani, encourages the youth to implement administrative projects in the region, including investment projects, which is critical for the Kurdish economy.”
Newroz Amin indicated that the facilities or privileges offered to investors are open to all in accordance with the Kurdistan Region Investment Law 2006, which states that any investment project in the region is exempt of all non-custom taxes and duties for 10 years from the date that it provides services or the date of actual production. Amin described this law as an “incentive for investment by providing facilities that are not offered elsewhere in the region.”
“This law applies to projects that are approved by the Investment Authority in the sectors of manufacturing, electricity and related services, in addition to agriculture, forestry, hotels and tourism projects, theme parks, health, the environment, scientific and technological research, information technology, transport and modern communications, banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions, infrastructure projects; including construction, reconstruction, housing projects, roads and bridges and the relevant advisory services,” explained Amin.
Newroz Amin continued to discuss the laws related to foreign investors: “Foreign investors and capital are treated the same as national investors and capital. Foreign investors have the absolute right to own the capital of any project that they have set up in the region in accordance with this law.”
“The regional Supreme Council for Investment, based on a proposal made by the Investment Authority, has the right to transfer ownership of the land that is allocated to strategic projects at a promotional price proposed by the Authority or free of charge provided that the nature and importance of the project and public interest are safeguarded,” she said.
Amin stressed, “Investors must obtain reliable foreign or national insurance to cover their projects. The investor has the right to employ the necessary foreign or domestic workforce for the project, while giving priority to employing domestic workers in accordance with the implemented laws in the region.”
“Foreign investors are permitted to transfer their profits abroad in accordance with the provisions of this law. Similarly, non-Iraqi workers and those with whom they deal outside of the region have the right to transfer their dues and wages abroad,” she said.
Amin added, “The law stipulates that the foreign investor can return his capital abroad upon completing or liquidating the project as long as the operation does not violate the regional law and the tax and customs measures that govern the project.”