Foster calls on companies to build more trade links with Kurdistan
Enterprise minister Arlene Foster is trying to persuade more Northern Ireland companies to do business in Kurdistan.
She has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kurdistan Regional Government in an effort to "strengthen trade links and define areas of co-operation between the two countries".
It follows the minister's visit to Kurdistan in October 2011 when she met with President Barzani and Kurdistan Regional Government ministers as part of an Invest Northern Ireland trade mission to Erbil, in northern Iraq.
"This agreement will help to strengthen trade and business links between Northern Ireland and Kurdistan, which is a rapidly growing economy," she said.
"Since my visit to Kurdistan last year I have been very encouraged by the business partnerships that have been built between the two countries.
"I am keen to promote further opportunities for our local companies.
"I know that several Northern Ireland firms have identified business opportunities in the region and that they have been impressed by the very positive attitude of the Kurdistan people."
Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, Kurdistan Regional Government High Representative to the United Kingdom, said the new relationship should be beneficial for both economies.
"We have identified many areas for co-operation,'' he said.
"I'm confident that this is the first step towards a relationship that will bring tangible benefits to both regions.''