Turkey has steadily been increasing its ties with the Kurdistan region since 2007 and has been forging a new partnership based on economics and energy concerns. Turkey is a rapidly growing economy which is heavily dependent on importing its energy. Much of this demand has been met with imports from Iran and Russia, but Turkey is anxious to diversify its energy sources.
Turkish companies are in talks to increase the amount of oil acreage in the Kurdistan region, and firms drilling for Kurdish gas are hopeful they may be able to export it to Turkey and to Europe. This has led to strengthening ties between the two countries, resulting in an increase in the volume of trade.
The volume of trade between Turkey and Iraq is worth between $10 billion and $12 billion, and around three quarters of this is with the Kurdistan regional government. Around 80% of this trade is due to Turkish imports to Kurdish regions. The increase in trade has led to substantially more Turkish companies operating in Kurdistan, and there are now estimated to be around 1,100 companies doing business in the region, a threefold increase during the past three years.
The transport links are also becoming increasingly busy, as there are numerous flights between Turkey and the Kurdish regions, and many trucks make the journey across the border each day. It looks likely that Turkish relations with the Kurdish regional government will continue to strengthen, and that it will continue to be beneficial for both countries, especially in the longer term.