A report by the UK’s Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranks Iraqi Kurdistan above most Middle East nations in terms of peace, stability, the political and business environment, quality of life and human development, senior advisor to the prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Nisar Talabany told the MEED Kurdistan Projects conference in Erbil this week.
Talabany said the report, which had been commissioned by the KRG, showed that Iraqi Kurdistan outranked Iraq as a whole in indexes measuring the region’s standing in all six areas. Talabany said the report showed that Iraqi Kurdistan ranked
• 11th among 20 Middle East countries in the Global Peace Index and was above Iran as well as Iraq on this measure
• Fifth in the political stability index after Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait and Oman. Iraq was 19th
• Seventh in the political environment index. Iraq was 15th
• Seventh in the business environment index. Iraq was 12th • Eighth in the quality of life index and
• Ninth in the human development index.
The report said that crime was “remarkably low by international standards” and that there were very few murders. “The KRG has shown a clear commitment to attracting businesses through the laws that it has passed and the institutions that it has created,” the report said.
It said none of the major political parties “has a stance that seriously threatens the business environment or policy making process,” the report added.
“Despite the prominence of major families in politics in the KRG, the decentralisation to provincial levels and the ability of new parties (such as Gorran) to emerge means that the executive authority is considerably less excessive than in Iraq,” the report said.
The report said starting a business in the KRG is uncomplicated, border procedures are efficient, low levels of income and corporation tax have attracted investors and the KRG’s foreign direct investment (FDI) policy is one of the region’s strongest-performing areas.
The EIU said that there were problems including a traffic bottleneck at the border with Turkey, property prices and rents were high and talent shortages. “Finance is one of the KRG’s weakest areas,” the report said. “The KRG remains a cash economy, which poses several challenges to international companies. The lack of a developed financing sector also inhibits local entrepreneurs and SMEs.” The report said income levels are relatively high and rising quickly.
The quality of family life measured by divorce rates is high and community life is relatively robust. The Kurdistan parliament has a 30 per cent quota for women MPs. Children’s education in Iraqi Kurdistan has increased sharply.