Foreign investors have pledged projects worth more than $16 billion dollars to be implemented in the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq, according to a Kurdish official.
Kameran al-Mufti, head of the region’s project evaluation and license department, said more than $6 billion of the pledged investments has already turned into “real’ projects. The department was established in 2006 in accordance with a new law the region’s government had issued to lure foreign investors.
The law gives investors several privileges among them a 10-year net of tax period and removal of tariffs on exports and imports related to the project. Foreigners even have the possibility of owning property including the land on which they set up their projects.
Investors, including Iraqi nationals, have the right to transfer their profits to bank accounts abroad. Even workers in these projects have the right to transfer their wages in hard cash abroad.
Mufti said these privileges and the region’s relative security have been “very tempting” for foreigners.
Since the promulgation of the law foreign capital has increased more than three folds – to more than 50 percent of foreign investments from 15 percent. He said investors were mainly interested in industrial and tourist projects as well as housing. But he said investors were still meeting many difficulties despite his department’s efforts to remove hurdles.
He cited the backward state of the region’s banking system and red tape as the main impediments.