Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Czech Companies Iraq

Baghdad Invest - 20/06/2012 Baghdad.
Czech companies to ink more deals in Iraq

With deadly attacks and political violence threatening to wreck a hard-won power-sharing agreement in Iraq, business is booming in at least one part of the country, and Czech companies are positioning themselves to take advantage of the thriving investment opportunities.

In the relatively peaceful and semi-autonomous northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan, foreign ventures and soaring oil exports helped drive a remarkable economic growth rate of 8 percent last year.

A delegation of businessmen, led by Industry and Trade Minister Martin Kuba (Civic Democrats, ODS), has just completed a high-level visit to Kurdistan that culminated in the announcement of plans to build a new steam-gas power plant in the region, with an output of 980 megawatts.

The project will be designed by Czech company PSG International, and will be built with the help of Turkish and Kurdish companies over the next few years.

The power plant is being financed by the Czech Export Bank in a deal that will hopefully attract further foreign and domestic companies, the Kurdish Globe reported June 9.

"I am pleased to represent the first Czech bank to organize financing support to this kind of project. There is a strong desire among Czech businessmen to be more engaged and present in Kurdistan," said Tomáš Uvíra, CEO of the Czech Export Bank.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, Kuba said he was impressed with Kurdistan's continued economic growth and stressed the importance of strengthening bilateral ties with the Kurdistan regional government (KRG).

"Today, a number of our companies are doing good business in Kurdistan; however, there are many more opportunities for further engagements, and we are here to explore those opportunities."

Kurdistan's prime minister, Nechirvan Barzani, highlighted the recent progress the KRG has made in electricity and energy production.

"We are continuing our efforts to achieve more progress; we are taking steps to further modernize the electricity sector, and we will continue these efforts until we can provide all the necessities of our citizens in this sector throughout the region," Barzani said.

The Czech delegation, comprising 24 businessmen and three representatives of the Confederation of Industry, also traveled briefly to the Iraqi capital Baghdad to participate in another forum and to meet with representatives from government ministries.

"It was a very successful exercise. We are hoping to welcome a Kurdish delegation to the Czech Republic very soon, perhaps as early as this year," said Olga Zuláková, the international relations manager of the Confederation of Industry, after returning from Iraq.

In March, Iraq was named one of 12 "priority" countries for the Czech Republic's export strategy 2012-20.

However, Zuláková concedes that while Kurdistan remains an attractive destination for business, trade in other parts of Iraq such as Baghdad is considered too risky for many companies.

Czech trade with Iraq sank some 40 percent to 1.54 billion Kč last year after previously experiencing growth.
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