Turkey to undertake lion's share of infrastructure projects in northern Iraq

DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL
Published

Turkey may undertake the majority of the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) future infrastructure projects, Erbil Governor Newzad Hadi has said. The Erbil governor said that the region's financial situation has improved thanks to the amelioration of ties with Baghdad and an increase in oil prices. "There will be a significant number of infrastructure development projects in the region and Turkey will undertake the lion's share of these projects as a contractor," he said.

Turkish firms have already undertaken a number of important projects in Erbil, Sulaymaniyah and Dohuk. Unlike the rest of Iraq, which has been embroiled in a conflict since 2003, the KRG has remained a safe destination for businesspeople and companies.

More than 3,000 Turkish companies, which were actively involved in the KRG until the terrorist group Daesh emerged in 2014, played an important role in the region's development.

The region's economy is expected to go through a redevelopment process since Deash in Iraq was largely neutralized in 2017, and now that the elections in Iraq and the KRG have been held.

Turkey has had a role in the development of the region, undertaking important infrastructure projects in the KRG, Erbil's Governor Hadi told Anadolu Agency (AA).

"The development of the KRG has happened thanks to the projects put into action by our strong neighbor Turkey. A number of our key strategic projects were carried out by Turkish companies," he noted.

Following Daesh occupation of Iraq's second largest city Mosul on June 10, 2014, and subsequently some other regions, the KRG also entered the war, the governor said.

Hadi suggested that the economic situation is now moving toward recovery. "The financial situation of the [KRG] government is improving. On one hand, oil prices are increasing while on the other, our relations with Baghdad are improving. As a government, we have paid off a large portion of our debts," he said.

Ties between Baghdad and the KRG have been strained since last September when the latter held an unconstitutional referendum on regional independence.

Hadi added that they have resumed projects that were suspended as well as started new projects, adding that construction works of roads and tunnels between cities have also picked up the pace.

Erbil governor said they will give priority to Turkish companies, saying that as in the past, Turkey will once again undertake the lion's share of the projects.

"We see Turkey as a strong neighbor. Turkish companies have carried out many projects in the KRG, including airport, power plants, oil refineries, and roads. We will provide all kinds of help to Turkish companies" he said. Currently, there are two border crossings between Turkey and the KRG: The Habur border gate is a busy trade route and the Üzümlü crossing in Hakkari's Çukurca district, which is mainly used for passenger traffic.

Hadi said that the road construction for the new "Derecik Border Gate" is currently underway. "Work on the Turkish side of the road is already completed while construction on our side was suspended. Now we have started again. This gate is important for bilateral trade relations," he added.

Meanwhile, one of Turkey's leading contractors Limak Holding built a 3.6 km-long tunnel in northern Iraq. The Gali Zakho Tunnel, which was built with an investment of $140 million, connects the cities of Ibrahim Khalil, Zakho and Dohuk.

According to the Turkish Consul General in Erbil Hakan Karaçay, the trade volume between Iraq and Turkey stood at around $9 billion in 2017.

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