Ibrahim Khalil border-crossing point. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Trade between the Kurdistan Region and neighbouring Turkey has increased by 20 percent compared to the first six months of 2016, according the Region's ministry of trade data, adding this growth is because of reconstruction of areas previously under ISIS rule.
According to data of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, in the first six months of last year, business exchange between Erbil and Ankara was worth $4 billion. This increased to $5 billion in the first six months of 2017, a 20 percent increase.
In the past two months, business between the two has further increased, said Nawzad Adham, director general of trade at the ministry, told Rudaw, bringing the increase over 2016 up to 25 percent.
Reconstruction of areas previously under ISIS rule is the primary reason for this increase, Adham explained.
He said: “25 percent of the food and goods imported to the Kurdistan Region through the borders are intended to meet the demands of the Kurdistan Region, and 75 percent of them are exported to other places in Iraq."
Though Turkey considers the Kurdistan Region's independence referendum a "wrong step," officials in Ankara have said they will not consider closing its borders on the Region, saying trade connection between the two has no connection with the referendum.
"This is nothing to do with our trade with this Region," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week during a visit to Erbil. "We have been supporting the KRG [Kurdistan Regional Government] and the Kurdish brothers and sisters here in Iraq as well as others. So we have not put any condition and we do not want to come to this stage.”
In other signs of improved trade volume between the Kurdistan Region and Turkey, construction of a new bridge at the Ibrahim Khalil border crossing is 90 percent complete. The construction project is being jointly funded by Erbil and Ankara.
The Kurdistan Region is also working to improve trade with Iran. Two business chambers in Kurdistan have signed protocols with Iranian traders that would have them establish offices in their respective countries and see trade exchange of up to $200 million.