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Middle East: Trade

Volume 687: debated on Thursday 14 January 2021

Britain has strong bilateral trading relationships with our friends in the middle east and a clear ambition to deepen them. That is why we have launched a joint trade and investment review with the Gulf Cooperation Council, with which total trade stood at almost £41 billion in the year to June 2020. We continue our work with other parts of the region too, particularly where we have trade agreements and are seeking to maximise new opportunities.

The recent report from the all-party group on the Kurdistan Region in Iraq, which I chair, identifies opportunities for British bodies in energy, solar power, film production, higher education and agriculture, including quality pomegranates from Halabja, and it states that the Government should organise a second official trade mission once covid allows. Will the Minister talk with his colleagues, the Kurdistan Regional Government, and the APPG to consider how such a trade mission could boost investment and trade with our allies, who constantly seek British expertise, goods and services?

Sadly, such travel is somewhat restricted at this moment in time, but my right hon. Friend is right to highlight the opportunities across the whole middle east region. For instance, in the education sector, which I know is a particular passion of his, my Department has supported companies to win more than 30 contracts in the middle east, worth more than £58 million over the past year. I look forward to working with my right hon. Friend to take that forward.