Tunisair launches direct flights between Kurdistan and Tunisia
Tunisair announced two direct flights per week to Kurdistan at the first Tunisia – Kurdistan Economic Forum hosted by the KRG in Erbil. Tunisian government officials, representatives of more than 50 companies, as well as journalists were among the delegation aboard the first Tunisair flight to arrive in Kurdistan.
At the well-attended forum, KRG Minister of Trade and Industry Sinan Chalabi welcomed the decision to commence direct flights. He said: “There are numerous fields in which we can benefit from the trade with Tunisia, particularly tourism, agriculture, and industry, as Tunisia exports goods and know-how skills to more than 160 countries and is considered a major trading partner of the European Union.” He added: “The KRG adopts an open-door policy regarding the economic activity of other countries, and Tunisia is most welcome to the Kurdistan Region. There are significant opportunities and potentials on both sides that can be utilized to expand economic relations.”
Tunisian Ambassador to Iraq, Samir Jamali, expressed his gratitude for the warm reception, ensuring that his country “is keen to develop trade relations with the Kurdistan Region.” Speaking to KRG.org, the Ambassador highlighted the potential for a successful cooperation. He said: “There must be common exchange and mutual benefit for both sides. The KRG has opened its doors for Tunisian companies, which is especially important after Tunisia’s growth gathered momentum following the political crisis in 2010.”
President of the Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry Dara Khayat emphasized the value of Tunisian participation in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. In his speech he stated: “The KRG attaches importance to bilateral economic relations with Tunisia, particularly after the visit of the Kurdistan delegation to Tunis.” His counterpart, Head of Tunisia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry Munir al-Moakhar, told KRG.org that the stable political situation in the Region opens the doors for Tunisian investment, focusing on “the fields of tourism, agriculture, and health.” He also stated that although Tunisair will begin with two flights per week, this may increase to four in the future."
Director of Exports in Tunisia’s Ministry of Transport Abdullatif Hamam told KRG. org that Tunisia annually exports more than 3000 products to more than 160 countries. He noted that the Kurdistan Region is witnessing “a positive transformation in construction and building, especially since 2003.” He added that relations with Tunisia can benefit Kurdistan in the fields of construction, tourism, and health, stating that soon a KRG delegation will visit Tunisia to learn more about the country’s experience in construction.
The Tunisair flight marks the first arrival of the airline in Iraq after 23 years of suspended activity due to Iraq's political and security situation. The delegation was received at the airport by Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations Minister Falah Mustafa, Government Spokesperson Minister Safeen Dizayee, and other KRG officials.
Also during the economic forum, President of the Entrepreneurs Union of Kurdistan Samir Ismail Daizi announced that a delegation of entrepreneurs of the Region will pay a visit to Tunisia in September 2014.
Daizi said that the visit scheduled by the Kurdish businessmen comes after "the confirmation of the quality of the services provided by the Tunisian firms of public works and their conformity to the European and international standards."
The Kurdish official said that the delegation of the businessmen comprises about 40 to 50 entrepreneurs from Kurdistan and that their visit to Tunisia will allow them to see firsthand the Tunisian suppliers and industrialists without going through, in accordance with the procedures in force now, their counterparts in Jordan.
Minister Chalabi emphasized the importance of the first direct flight Tunis-Erbil of the Tunisair Company, launched on 1 June, 2014, to strengthen the economic relations between the two countries.
"This flight will establish fruitful trade relations and highlight the potentialities of the Region of Kurdistan, notably in matters of tourism and also its riches of raw materials," he said.
Minister Chalabi also highlighted the expertise and the skills of the Tunisian human resources, confirming the existence of a real investment potential in Kurdistan, notably, in the field of health and tourism.
Besides, the Kurdish Minister stated the readiness of the authorities of the Region to ensure all the conditions favorable to the development of relations with Tunisia in various fields.
In this regard, he emphasized the need to strive in collaboration with the concerned departments to facilitate the procedures of getting visas for tourists as well as investors. CEPEX CEO Abdellatif Hmam underlined that Tunisian enterprises are export-oriented. They are, henceforth, ready to develop co-operation with the Kurdish firms in several fields.
The participants in the Tunisian-Kurdish forum confirmed that this gathering will spare no effort to identify the partnership opportunities between the Tunisian entrepreneurs and their Kurdish counterparts.