Iranian Kurdistan: Reduced Iranian Investment in Kurdistan Region
International economic sanctions strain business relations between Iran and the Kurdistan region, even though the region has always been economically marginalized by Tehran policy.
Below is an article published by Rudaw:
A number of Iranian companies say that economic sanctions as well as Iran’s currency crisis have forced them to end their investment in the Kurdistan Region.
Omed Olijan, the owner of an Iranian company that has been working in Kurdistan for more than 10 years, told Rudaw, “In the past, Iranian businessmen needed US$1 million to start a business in the Kurdistan Region, but they cannot afford this amount anymore.”
Olijani says that in order to reduce the impact of the international sanctions, the government in Tehran has banned the export of up to 60 types of Iranian products to the other countries including the Kurdistan Region.
According to Mustafa Abdulrahman, head of Kurdistan Region’s Import and Export Association, the banned products include food and construction supplies.
“This decision by the Iranian government has forced several Iranian companies to leave the Kurdistan Region,” he says.
“The ban on exporting Iranian products has made it difficult for us to continue our business,” he adds. “We need these products for our projects.”
Iranian businessmen who dealt in currency exchange in Kurdistan were the first ones to bear the brunt of the international sanctions. However, the recent Iranian decision has affected companies that flourished on exporting food and construction material to the Kurdistan Region.
Muhammad Tahir, head of the Contractors’ Union in Sulaimani, says, “The ban by the Iranian government on the export of local products has crippled the business of Kurdish companies that import iron and construction supplies to the Region.”
In the past decade, 140 Iranian companies were registered in the Kurdistan Region, but according to the Foreign Companies Registration Office, more than 100 of these companies have left.
“At the moment, only 20 Iranian companies are working in Sulaimani,” says Soran Ahmad, director of the Foreign Companies Registration Office.
Iran is one of Kurdistan Region’s main trade partners. By the end of 2011, trade between both countries reached its peak at US$10 billion.
Yasin Mahmood, the spokesperson for the Kurdistan Investment Union, says, “If a second round of sanctions are imposed on Iran, the trade relationship between the two sides will decline to a minimum.”