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Economy of Iraqi Kurdistan

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Economy of Iraqi Kurdistan

Economy of Iraqi Kurdistan
Erbil (Hewlêr), capital of Iraqi Kurdistan
Currency Iraqi dinar (IQD)
Calendar year
GDP Increase 172.7 billion (PPP, 2013)
GDP rank 62nd (PPP, 2012)
GDP growth
Increase 8.4% (2013)
GDP per capita
Increase $ 11,400 (2013 est.)
GDP by sector
agriculture: 8.0%; industry: 44.0%; services: 48.0% (2011 est.)
Increase 3.86 %
Population below poverty line
Decrease 17.2% (2011 est.)
Increase 34.25
Labour force
4.156 million (2012 est.)
Labour force by occupation
agriculture: 27 %; industry: 32 %; services: 41 % (2010)
Unemployment Decrease4.3% (2013 est.)[1]
Main industries
petroleum, Natural gas, hydrocarbons, light weapons and small arms and ammunition, textiles, clothing and footwear, radio equipment, electrical equipment, auto assembly, construction materials, pharmaceuticals, food processing, petroleum refining.
Export goods
Petroleum products, Crude oil, Natural gas, textiles and clothing, wool and woolen products, citrus fruits and dried fruits, leather and leather products.
Main export partners
 Turkey 22.5%
 Israel 12.3%
 United States 10.2%
 Germany 9.1%
 United Kingdom 5.7%
 Jordan 5.5%
 Sweden 5.0%
 Iraq 4.7%
 Lebanon 4.6%
 Norway 4.5%
Import goods
heavy machinery and engineering equipment, high-tech products, machine tools, heavy weapons and ammunition, defense equipment, pharmaceutical products, Medical equipment and medical electronics, heavy automobiles and trucks, computer hardware and software, Telecommunications equipment, fiber optics.
Main import partners
 Turkey 16.5%
 United States 15.0%
 Israel 13.7%
 Russia 8.4%
 Germany 6.6%
 Sweden 5.2%
Georgia 5.1%
 Azerbaijan 5.0%
 Iran 4.7 %
 Finland 4.5 %
FDI stock
Increase$74.49 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Decrease$24.2 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Public finances
Steady14.2% of GDP (2012 est.)
Revenues Increase$52.67 billion (2012 est.)
Expenses Increase$53.45 billion (2012 est.)
Foreign reserves
IncreaseUS$ 47.38 billion (31 December 2012)

All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars.

Economy of Iraqi Kurdistan[2] refers to the economy of the autonomous



The Kurdistan Regional Government territories in northern Iraq have been semi-autonomous since the 1990 Gulf War and subsequent protection of the region from the hostile forces of the Hussein regime forces by the Allied establishment of a no fly zone.[2]

Prior to the removal of Saddam Hussein, the Kurdistan Regional Government received approximately 14% of the revenues from the UN's Oil-for-Food Program. By the time of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the program had disbursed $8.35 billion to the KRG. Iraqi Kurdistan's relative food security allowed for substantially more of the funds to be spent on development projects than in the rest of Iraq. By the program's end in 2003 $4 billion of the KRG's oil-for-food funds remained unspent. Between 1992 and 2003, the GDP growth rate was between 6% and 10%.

During US occupation of Iraq (2003-2011)

Following the removal of Saddam Hussein's administration and the subsequent violence, the three provinces fully under the Kurdistan Regional Government's control were the only three in Iraq to be ranked "secure" by the US government. According to the KRG website, not a single coalition soldier has died nor a single foreigner been kidnapped since the 2003 invasion of Iraq in areas administered by the KRG.[5]

The relative security and stability of the region has allowed the KRG to sign a number of investment contracts with foreign companies. In 2006, the first new oil well since the invasion of Iraq was drilled in the Kurdistan region by the Norwegian energy company DNO. Initial indications are that the oil field contains at least 100 million barrels (16,000,000 m3) of oil and will be pumping 5,000 bbl/d (790 m3/d) by early 2007. The KRG has signed exploration agreements with several other oil companies, including Canada's Western Oil Sands and the UK's Sterling Energy and Gulf Keystone Petroleum.

The stability of the Kurdistan region has allowed it to achieve a higher level of development than other regions in Iraq. In 2004, the per capita income was 25% higher than in the rest of Iraq. By 2009, this was 50% higher. The highest growth rate achieved was around 12.7% in 2005-2007 and again 11.5% in 2010-2012. Since 2012, the growth rate has stabilized between 7% and 8%. The government continues to receive a portion of the revenue from Iraq's oil exports, and the government will soon implement a unified foreign investment law.

The KRG also has plans to build a media city in Eastern Mediterranean climate, cuisine and thus a favourable tourist destination.

Since 2003, the stronger economy of Iraqi Kurdistan has attracted around 20,000 workers from other parts of Iraq.[6]

Iraqi Kurdistan has a well-balanced budget, with relatively efficient bureaucracy and social welfare services by Middle Eastern standards, and military expenditures well under control. Budget deficit is almost negligible. It has also better social services than its neighbors, with good quality and free education up to University level, and efficient primary healthcare. Secondary and tertiary healthcare however remains a problem in rural areas. Regulation and labour laws are very favourable, and red tape is much less than Middle Eastern standards. It takes approximately four days to start a business and get the necessary permits. Licensing is required only in manufacturing alcohol, cigarettes, and in the defense sector (much of which is still State-owned, especially smaller factories for producing small arms and ammunition.)

Special Economic zones

The KRG currently has four SEZs , in Dohuk, Batifa, Shaqlawa and Chamchamal. The first SEZ was set up in 1999 in Batifa, and the last in 2012 in Shaqlawa. The Bazian SEZ is dedicated solely for the petroleum and natural gas sector. Further two more SEZs, in Amedi and Bazian, have been planned to be completed before 2016. SEZs together account for nearly 30 % of all industrial jobs and 40 % of all industrial revenue and output. However, labour laws are controversial in these SEZs as hiring and firing laws are massively lopsided in favour of the employer.


The Kirkuk–Ceyhan Oil Pipeline allows the export of oil from the Taq Taq and Tawke oil fields

The Kurdistan Regional Government begun exporting crude oil by truck to Turkey during the summer of 2012.[2] In 2013, the Kurdistan Regional Government completed a pipeline from the Taq Taq field through Khurmala and Dahuk to Faysh Khabur on the Turkey-Iraq border, where it is connected to the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline. This 36-inch (910 mm) diameter pipeline has capacity of 150,000 barrels per day (24,000 m3/d). It allows the export of oil from the Taq Taq and Tawke oil fields.[7] On 23 May 2014, the Kurdistan Regional Government announced that the first oil transported via the new pipeline was loaded into tanker at Ceyhan.[8]


According to Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, since 2003 the number of millionaires in the Kurdish city of Silêmani has increased from 12 to 2000, reflecting the financial and economic growth of the region.[9]

In 2009, Iraqi Kurdistan had the lowest poverty rates in Iraq.[10]

See also


  1. ^ [CIA Factbook]]
  2. ^ a b c [1]
  3. ^ British agency Hinterland Travel has recently started small scale tourism tours to the region [2].
  4. ^ Time magazine article mentioning Australian/Kurdish tour company Kurdistan Adventures on tourism in Kurdistan [3]]
  5. ^ "Kurdistan Regional Government". KRG. Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  6. ^ Barkey, H. J.; Laipson, E. (2005). "Iraqi Kurds And Iraq's Future". Middle East Policy 12 (4): 66–76 [p. 68].  
  7. ^ "Operations in Kurdistan Region of Iraq".  
  8. ^ "KRG statement on first oil sales through pipeline export" (Press release).  
  9. ^ Jalal Talabani, in a letter to the people of the United States, September 2006 [4]
  10. ^ "Nearly 25 percent of Iraqis live in poverty". MSNBC. 2009-05-20. Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
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