Baroness Nicholson's Speech, as given to the "Investment Forum in Iraq and Kurdistan Region" on 29 March 2014

I am indeed grateful for the privilege of addressing this eminent audience,and I thank most warmly the President of The Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and President of the Erbil Chamber, Mr Dara Al-Khayat for his kind invitation and for his Federations’s continuing great work. May I thank too the President of the Iraqi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mr Jaafar Al-Hamdani. The Chambers of his Federation, who cover the Federal Republic of Iraq are well known to us all for their continuing hard work, overall excellence and high standards. And I thank the Governor, Mr Nowzad Hadi  and the people of Erbil for their gracious hospitality throughout this conference. It was indeed a pleasure to hear the Governor speak earlier this morning; and for the conference to be addressed first by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Roche Nuri Shaways who powerfully reminded us of the huge investment opportunities now offered throughout the regions of Iraq and Kurdistan. His Excellency Mr Adnan Kassar brings the entire Arab Union Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture to Erbil and his members know of the extraordinary business and industry strengths Iraq and the Kurdistan region possess.

I speak today as Chairman of the Iraq Britain Business Council,which is based in London, Erbil, Basra and Baghdad. Our work is designed to facilitate stronger commercial and industrial partnerships between our countries,and to open up new opportunities for our member companies in Britain and Iraq. We are an international organisation which takes full advantage of the global reach of the City of London and, too, of the truly international nature of the UK. Our membership reflects Britain’s multinational businesses and is not confined to companies that began in the UK. Some of our Iraq members are here today; I am delighted to see the Managing Director of the Trade Bank of Iraq, an early IBBC member, Mrs Hamdyah al Jaff. She has been named as one of the 100 top women of the globe, and recently held the first Iraq/Kuwait Women’s Forum with Sara Akbar of Kuwait  Energy, another longstanding IBBC member company. UB Holdings, the internationally renowned, Erbil-based successful business and part sponsors of today’s Forum belong to IBBC; we are most grateful to UB Holdings for their generous provision of our office here in Erbil. It is good to see other IBBC members here today, including Standard Chartered Bank, who recently opened their new branch in Erbil and Weir Group. Please talk with any of our IBBC staff here on what services we provide to members and how to join IBBC. We would be delighted to have you with us and all are welcome.

I was recently appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron as his Trade Envoy for Iraq. Let me remind you of the huge benefits that trading with the UK offers you. Britain is an old country, with the continuing benefit of political and economic stability. But we are also a new country; you will recall that we invented the internet. We offer you stable institutions, the City of London as one of the world’s most important financial centres; continuing high standards and high quality outcomes. The UK provides business and industry with an environment that successfully combats corruption and one that welcomes new initiatives irrespective of origin. I hope that you will consider further investment in the UK and partnership with many more of our companies. I believe that you will find benefit by doing so.

I welcome this conference, I thank the organising committee and it’s members for their hard work and I look forward to our continuing collaboration.