Iraq’s Kurdish region trade with the outside world is now estimated at $20 billion a year, a senior Kurdish official said.
The massive sum is mostly spent on imports from foreign countries with Turkey topping the list, the Governor of Erbil Province Nawzad Hadi said.
Erbil is the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region and the seat of its regional government.
The semi-independent region comprises three provinces – Arbil, Sulaimaniya and Dahouk. Its sole source of hard cash originates from the central government in Baghdad which allocates 17% of its oil revenues to the Kurds.
“The largest portion of the money is allocated to cover imports of the commodities the citizens need,” Hadi said.
The region has been relatively quiet in comparison with the rest of Iraq. Its tranquility has spurred many Iraqis with money to take it as permanent resident.
But apart from a flurry of property development, the Kurdish region has seen no tangible progress in terms of industrial, agricultural or service sector development.
However, its stability has turned it into a magnet for foreign firms, which use it as a base for trade with the rest of the country.
The Kurdish authorities have developed a few oil fields in their areas via contracts with foreign companies.