The Kurdistan Region of Iraq is on a fast paced path to growth and prosperity. The limited number of pre-established firms and companies mixed with a rapidly rising per capita income is resulting in increased national demand for all sorts of products and services spread across all of the sectors, ranging from industry, manufacturing, banking, and consumer staples, to healthcare and education. This publication aims to assess the currently existing gaps in each sector in order to identify potential business opportunities. In addition, governmental investment incentives are discussed for each sector. Finally, the report presents a brief illustration of the main players in each sector.

SunTrust Holding can provide potential investors who wish to enter the Kurdistan market with valuable local insights, as well as a competitive advantage with the help of our Erbil-based business partners.

Why Kurdistan?

Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous Region in Iraq, governed by an independent body known as the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). It consists of three governorates: Erbil, Sulaymaniah and Duhok. Its capital city is also called Erbil, and is located in the governorate holding its name. The region has an estimated population of 4.9 million, spread across 40,000 square kilometers.

Along with oil reserves amounting to 45 billion barrels, Kurdistan boasts impressive GDP growth rates and rising per capita income. The KRG’s Ministry of Planning estimates a GDP growth rate of 8% annually. The table below summarizes some key estimates for 2011.

Key Economic Figures
Nominal GDP (USD, millions) 20,000
Nominal GDP per capita (USD) 4,452
Nominal GNI (USD, millions) 34,000
Nominal GNI per capita (USD) 6,411
Source: Ministry of Planning, Kurdistan Board of Investment.
Sector Overview

The industrial sector, along with the housing sector and the tourism sector, makes up about two thirds of the size of the Region’s GDP. The tables below illustrate the relative size of the Region’s different sectors. The annual GDP of 2011 is used as a basis for comparison.

Kurdistan currently offers a ‘virgin’ market, creating ideal investment opportunities for foreign businesses to partake in investment projects in the Region. Steady GDP growth and a rising income per capita ensure a sustained increase in demand for consumer products and services. In order to accommodate this increase in demand, numerous investment projects are required in all of the economy’s sectors.

In 2011, foreign investment capital entering the Region amounted to $2.18 billion, forming a total of $16.2 billion throughout the past five years. In 2011 alone, the number of foreign companies operating in Kurdistan grew by 33%, reaching a total of 433.

The KRG has established a number of attractive investment incentives mainly designed to attract foreign investors to the Region. For instance, total foreign ownership of the land required for a project is allowed, the entire profit generated from such investments is subject to repatriation and is exempt from income tax for a period of ten years, and the import of raw material needed for production is exempt from custom duties for a period of five years, while equipment and machinery imported for the project are also exempt from duties for a period of two years.
Research Department
Wednesday, August 1st. 2012
This publication presents a brief overview of the Iraqi Kurdistan Area, and provides a preliminary analysis of the key sectors and investment opportunities in the Region.


This report is intended to provide background general information about eventual investment opportunities and the opinions and expectations contained herein are entirely those of Suntrust Holding S.A.L.(“SUNTRUST”). This document does not constitute an offer or solicitation to invest and shall not form the basis of any contract or commitment whatsoever. Neither SUNTRUST nor its respective directors, officers, or employees shall be in any way responsible for the contents of this document. The information contained in this document has been compiled in good faith from sources believed to be reliable. However, no representation or warranty is made by SUNTRUST as to the accuracy or completeness of such information.

No dealer, salesman or other person has been authorized to provide any information or to make any representation, other than those contained in this document, and, if given or made, such information or representation must not be relied upon as having been authorized by SUNTRUST.