Wednesday, October 6, 2010

First Kurdistan–Korean Business Forum meeting explores commercial opportunities

Erbil, Kurdistan – Iraq ( – Today Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials hosted a delegation of prominent South Korean companies in the first meeting of the Kurdistan-Korean Business Forum.

South Korea’s Ambassador Suk Bum Park, Chairman of the Investment Board Minister Herish Muharam, and Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir presided over the forum at Erbil's Convention Centre.

Ambassador Park said, “I am pleased to return once again to Kurdistan, and I am very thankful for the warm reception and the hospitality. I suggested having such a gathering so that we could exchange ideas, find solutions, and work hand-in-hand with the Kurdistan Region” He added, “It also gives Korean companies a chance to ask questions and get more details about investment and doing business here.”

Minister Bakir thanked Korea's ambassador and the Embassy Liaison Office in Erbil for suggesting and promoting the initiative. He explained that the Kurdistan Region Investment Board and the Department of Foreign Relations had worked closely with the Korean Embassy, and the level of cooperation between the KRG and South Korea is rising at an impressive rate.

Minister Muharam outlined the locations and sectors ideal for Korean investment and commercial activity, inviting Korean firms to do more business with the Kurdistan Region. He said, “The Kurdistan Region, as you may know, now engages in about 12 billion US dollars per year in trade. Korean brands have earned an excellent reputation in this Region, and I want to emphasise that we will support your efforts to locate investment opportunities here.” He added, “I encourage Korean firms to prepare proposals for further discussion, especially regarding our strategic projects.”

Minister Bakir said, “The KRG desires a long-term, strategic relationship with Korea. We are pleased to see a marked increase in the presence of Korean private sector activity. I believe this is only the beginning. The people and the government of the Kurdistan Region look forward to a sustained partnership in diverse sectors.”

Officials from several ministries also gave their views at the forum, contributing to a lively exchange about commercial needs, opportunities, and mutual desire for further cooperation.

The forum continued with a visit to Erbil Chamber of Commerce and Industry for a match-making session with local companies interested in joint ventures and other collaboration. Korea’s Embassy Liaison Office in Erbil is led by M Dukho Moon, who helped to organise the event. Representatives from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), Korea National Oil Company (KNOC), Incheon Airport, LG International, Daewoo Construction, SK Construction, and other companies participated in the forum.

The Kurdistan Region and Korea have already established very good relations. Korean forces were based in the Kurdistan Region from 2004 to 2008 as part of the Multi-National Force. During their four-year mission, the Zaytun Division provided vocational training, ran a hospital and helped to build social infrastructure including schools and a library.

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