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AUIS Hosts Conference on Economic Reform in Iraqi Kurdistan

The American University of Iraq in Sulaimani (AUIS) hosted their first conference to discuss the economic policies and reforms for Iraq and the Kurdistan Region on January 21st, 2016.

Policy Experts & Business Leaders

The conference was hosted by AUIS’ Center for Development and Natural Resources (CDNR), under the aegis of the Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS).

Entitled “Escaping the Rentier Model: Reforms in Iraq and Kurdistan Region”, the conference brought together representatives from Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), experts and policy makers and diplomats and business leaders.

Comprised of three panels, the conference covered challenges facing the oil and gas sectors, ways to diversify the economy, as well as public finance management.

Reforms in the Oil and Gas Sectors

The opening panel focused on the oil and gas sector in the country. Moderated by Dr. Bilal Wahab, the founding director of CDNR, the panel’s participants focused their discussion around the implications of the falling oil prices on the economy and the reforms required for the oil and gas revenue management.

The second panel focused on the economic policies of Iraq and the KRG. Participants discussed diversification and reducing dependence on oil. Speakers also discussed ways to enable a free market environment and providing healthy space to the private sector for it to play a greater role in improving the economy and employment, and bringing more transparency to the system.

The third, and final panel, focused on recommendations for facing the burgeoning economic challenges facing Iraq and the KRG. The discussion focused on reforming institutions and policies to develop a stable long term policy while managing the current crisis. Some discussion also focused on the future of Baghdad-KRG financial relations.

American Speakers & Panelists

Several Americans spoke at the event and sat on panels. The speakers included Matthias Mitman, U.S. Consul General in Erbil, Christie Milner, senior economic officer at the U.S. Consulate in Erbil, Dr. James Whitaker, deputy office director, USAID, Iraq, and Dr. Jim Parks, financial advisor to the KRG.

Other speakers and panelists included Mr. Rebaz Hamlan, KRG finance minister, Dr. Ezat Sabir, Kurdish Minister of Parliament heading the Finance and Economic Affairs Committee, Dr. Abdulbasit Turki Saeed, former governor of Iraq Central Bank, Dr. Thamir Al Ghadhban, energy advisor to the Iraqi Prime Minister, and Dr. Sherko Jawdat, chair of Kurdistan Parliament’s Oil and Gas Committee.

[To read more, visit AUIS]

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