Iraq, Iran to launch Joint Investment Fund

By John Lee.

Iraq and Iran are to launch a fund to finance joint ventures between the two countries.

In his closing remarks to the Iran-Iraq Economic Conference on Wednesday, Iran's Minister of Energy Reza Ardakanian said

"The proposal to establish a joint venture fund to support the private sector of the two countries was approved."

The conference also discussed plans to establish a branch of Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iraq.

(Source: Iranian Ministry of Energy)

The post Iraq, Iran to launch Joint Investment Fund first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Saudi-Iraqi Business Forum Launched; New Projects Announced

By John Lee.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi received a delegation of Saudi officials and business people in Baghdad on Monday.

Among the visitors was the Saudi Minister of Commerce, Acting Minister of Media, and Chairman of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi.

The delegation included businessmen representing 22 Saudi companies.

During the meeting, they discussed issues of common interest between the two countries, and ways to support and enhance them in all fields.

The two sides also signed an agreement to establish a metal silo to store wheat in Al-Diwaniya province, and a hospital in Al-Saqlawiya, Anbar province.

(Source: SPA)

The post Saudi-Iraqi Business Forum Launched; New Projects Announced first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Total “in Talks” to Sell Stake in Iraqi Oil Field

By John Lee.

France's Total is reported to be in talks to sell its 18-percent stake in the Sarsang block in Iraqi Kurdistan, in a move aimed at reducing the company's debt.

Bloomberg says the company is working with Jefferies Financial Group on the deal, adding that the holding could be worth as much as $500 million.

More here and here.

(Source: Bloomberg)

The post Total "in Talks" to Sell Stake in Iraqi Oil Field first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Establishing a Sovereign Wealth Fund in Iraq

From the Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Prospects Of Establishing A Sovereign Wealth Fund In Iraq

Throughout history, financial crises have been met with innovative reform plans that help develop the resilience of a country's economic system, except when it comes to Iraq.

All major oil producing countries have developed sovereign wealth funds to help mitigate the effects of potential price drops on their economies, but Iraq has yet to do so.

This has not only resulted in temporary budgetary issues for Iraq, but has also allowed serious economic challenges to become entrenched in both the political and social structures of the country.

A first glance at the current economic crisis would suggest the need for a sovereign wealth fund (SWF) to overcome the impact of oil price drops.

However, Iraq's economic challenges stem from legacy issues. Therefore, can a SWF help alleviate these historical challenges and bring about reform?

In effect, can a tool for financial diversification become a means for political and socio-economic reform?

Click here to read the full report by Mohammed Hussein Baraka.

The post Establishing a Sovereign Wealth Fund in Iraq first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Tabib Baghdad secures more Funding

By John Lee.

An online platform that connects Iraqi patients to doctors has reportedly raised a six-figure sum in its latest round of fundraising.

According to Startup MGZN, Tabib Baghdad raised the money through the recently-launched Iraqi Angel Investors Network, led by KAPITA and Nass Al Iraq.

It adds that the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) gave a grant of $20,000 towards this round, as part of its support to the Angel Network and the Iraqi startup ecosystem, as part of its "ICT for Youth in Iraq" scheme.

Tabib Baghdad started operations in Baghdad in 2018, and plans to cover the rest of Iraq in the coming year.

More here.

(Source: Startup MGZN)

The post Tabib Baghdad secures more Funding first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Successful IBBC Conference in Dubai

IBBC's 5th Annual Iraq Conference in Dubai - Opportunity in Adversity

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) was much praised at its conference on Thursday for pioneering in COVID-19 times by bringing together senior officials from Iraq, the UAE and the UK, prominent international and Iraqi businessmen, bankers and professional advisers as speakers and over 100 delegates.

With the Address Hotel as host venue implementing the strictest hygiene regime and using video links, delegates enjoyed a day of vigorous analysis and debate about the issues currently creating the adverse conditions dominating the Iraqi political and business landscape and what measures were needed to improve matters, but nevertheless inspirational presentations highlighted success stories across a number of sectors in panel sessions covering energy, finance, infrastructure/logistics and tech.

Highlights of the day were presentations made by Mrs Zena Yousif Iraq consul general in Dubai, the first woman to ever hold that position, and the fact that all the leaders of the energy companies presenting were Iraqi nationals for the first time ever, namely Mr Zaid Elyaseri, Vice President Iraq from BP, Mr Ali Al Janabi, Chairman, from Shell, Mr Musab Alkateeb, Managing Director, from Siemens Energy, and all were addressing common global issues currently affecting that sector - low oil and gas prices, environmental and green issues.

Mr Aziz Khudairi, Chairman of the Khudairi Group with multiple businesses in Iraq urged the Iraqi Government to embrace the private sector to grow prosperity in Iraq and to provide employment for the millions of young Iraqis, to protect Iraqi businesses from unfair dumping by foreign competitors, but in return emphasised the need for the Iraqi workforce to rediscover a work ethic so that Iraqi companies would become efficient and profitable.

Baroness Nicholson made her Welcome Address by video link from London and at the end of the day announced the new annual award to be made to an Iraqi SME for its contribution to business in Iraq, in memory of the recently deceased Engineer Rasmi al Jabri, IBBC deputy chairman.

Amongst the many excellent speakers were:

  • H.E. Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, UAE
  • H.E. Dr Abdulkariem Al Faisal, Chairman of the Prime Minister's Advisory Commission
  • Mrs Zena Yousif, Consulate General of Iraq in Dubai
  • Mr Simon Penny, Her Majesty's UK Trade Commissioner for the Middle East

Conference Sponsors were Basra Gateway Terminal, Siemens Energy and Serco.

Vikas Handa of Gulftek, Conference chairman said:

"Today's IBBC conference in Dubai is the testimony of human resilience on the face of adversity. We had unexpected turnout & great participation from the ministers, industry leaders and businesses from Iraq, UAE & UK.

"We covered a lot of ground to chart the way forward, network & learn from each other. I along with IBBC MD Christophe Michels would like to thank our key members for their unwavering support to make it happen."

In parallel

The Tech Forum took place online, with participants from Iraq, UK, Dubai and France, to review and discuss the digitisation of Iraq, based on the World Bank's Report in April.

Chaired by Ashley Goodall of IBBC, we reviewed how the Government of Iraq ( GOI ) and digital development in general has been evolving since April, as Alexandre Laure, the World bank Sector specialist, who wrote the report - shared with us areas of development : namely, 6 key areas : Digital inclusion, banking and finance, Investment, Infrastructure, SMEs and start-ups, skill development and linking to external digital organisations. Two areas of progress include the establishment of a Tech fund for start-ups and SME investment, and the payment of Government salaries directly to bank accounts digitally. Additionally, there are areas of deregulation for start -ups and new businesses, although the registration cost of $37500 was deemed exclusionary for most start-ups.

Jawad Abbasi of GSMA MENA said that 4G infrastructure is critical in extending internet across Iraq, and this has been put on hold for the moment. This would increase the ability of users to trade, exchange and create new products on-line, as well as boost the digital economy. Yazen Altimimi CEO of Zain Cash echoed this issue as Zain are often blamed for poor internet experience, when it's an infrastructure issue. Zain's consumer uptake is rapid and there is a healthy growth and interest in the digital economy as a business and consumer medium. If 4G can be delivered the economy will see a rapid upswing. In short there is pent up demand and an appetite from consumers to transact on- line, so it makes sense to deliver 4G to ensure the whole economy expands.

Laura Oliver, director of Iraq Tech Ventures, amplified the issue for start -ups and SME.s who want to trade on line, and the raised the issue of the high cost of registration that prohibits start-ups registering formally, and therefore rely on the cash economy, so they are unable to get formal credit and investment. These two issues, of 4G and registration should be straight forward to address and would make a big different to the overall digital development of the Iraqi economy, and encourage investment from external digital companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google.

In a second panel: Online Consumer behaviour, Caroline McGarr of ThinkBank - a leading research agency in Irbil, presented key finding among Iraqi consumers between 18-45, and again found a big demand for consumer goods, banking on line for an unbanked 83% of the population. In sectors such as Fashion, health and social media there is enormous pent up demand as over 50% of these people spend over 5 hours a day on-line. Again, the issue of reliable internet, useful apps and products to purchase and reliability of banking, echo the first panel's concerns.

The overall message from both panels is that there is huge unmet demand among youthful Iraqi's for more services, better internet, better banking (trust) and online interaction with Government and products that will be better served by better internet and the proliferation of new goods and services from SMEs and start-ups, who themselves are constrained by registration fees and investment.

A full video of the sessions, including the presentation charts can be viewed here

For more information please contact london@webuildiraq.org

(Source: IBBC)

The post Successful IBBC Conference in Dubai first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Iraq Pushes Faw Refinery Project

By John Lee.

The Iraqi Ministry of Oil has invited international companies to participate in the competition to implement the Faw Refinery Project in Basra.

The project will be offered on a BOO (Build, Own, Operate) or BOOT (Build, Own, Operate, Transfer) basis.

Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail said the refinery will be environmentally friendly and in conformity with international standards (EURO 5), adding that a petrochemical complex will be added to the project in the future.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

The post Iraq Pushes Faw Refinery Project first appeared on Iraq Business News.

KRG DPM Talabani to Speak at Virtual Kurdistan Iraq Economic Forum

Kurdistan's Deputy Prime Minister HE Qubad Talabani to Speak at the Virtual Kurdistan Iraq Economic Forum

  • Inaugural Conference set to navigate the economic future Kurdistan and Iraq
  • Conference will include online sessions available live and on demand for all attendees
  • Delegates will gain insights into the latest policy and project announcements, crucial for successful investment decisions in the region as well as the key recovery strategies post pandemic
  • Virtual Event will take place on 17 - 18 November through an interactive platform

CWC and Global Future Energy are hosting the Kurdistan-Iraq Economic Forum with the support of the KRG High Commission to the UK.

Sponsored by Chevron, the Forum aims to be the first gathering dedicated to the economic diversification of the Region, and will include 6 panel sessions, enabling senior decision makers across multiple industries to engage with each other virtually to address current issues and facilitate practical solutions to advance the economy in these challenging times.

Confirmed speakers include:

  1. HE Qubad Talabani, Deputy Prime Minister, Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq HE
  2. HE Safeen Dizayee, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, Kurdistan Regional Government, Iraq
  3. HE Karwan Jamal, Kurdistan Region High Representative to the UK, London
  4. HE Dr Amanj Raheem, Cabinet Minister, Member of the Oil & Gas Council, Kurdistan Regional Government, Iraq
  5. HE Kamal Muslim Saeed, Minister of Trade & Industry, Kurdistan Regional Government, Iraq
  6. Matthew M. Zais, Ph.D., Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of International Affairs, US Department of Energy

"The Kurdistan Region has an opportunity to become an important commercial centre in Iraq and the region in order to attract foreign investments to implement strategic projects" said Prime Minister Barzani last month at the Supreme Economic Council meeting in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani and a number of ministers and governors.

In light of the current unprecedented circumstances, decision-makers and influencers from various industries will gather to unlock new business opportunities on all levels of the economy   by addressing the following themes:

  • Extending the Value Chain beyond Producing Oil: How the Oil Sector Could Enrich Economic Diversification?
  • Kurdistan plans to privatize the electricity sector, opportunities for investors
  • Diversifying the energy mix to increase the role of gas and renewables
  • How to grow non-oil sectors that will provide a sustainable source of growth?
  • Fiscal reforms packages to support the recovery of post pandemic
  • Maximizing strategic alignment with the major companies to support in building the region's infrastructure
  • Promoting the growth of the economy through innovations in procurement and financial supply chain management processes

Over the past decade, the CWC Iraq Portfolio has hosted over 100+ Ministers and Senior Officials at various events. The Inaugural Kurdistan Iraq Economic Forum will bring together the international commercial executives interested in investing in Kurdistan.  CWC, now a brand of Global Future Energy, will again provide the only international platform for high level stakeholders in the Region to convene.

For further information, visit https://www.kurdistan-economic.com/

To access the full programme, please click here.

The post KRG DPM Talabani to Speak at Virtual Kurdistan Iraq Economic Forum first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Why you should come to IBBC Conference: Opportunity in Adversity

Why you should come to the IBBC Conference in Dubai, entitled 'Opportunity in Adversity'

On 19th November the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) is holding its Autumn conference in person at the Address hotel Dubai Marina.

Some would say it's a brave decision, considering COVID, but others are keen to take up the challenge and opportunity to engage, meet, listen to expert business voices of Iraq and overall have proper opportunities for networking.

Not only do we have a good level of members signed up to attend, but also one of the strongest line ups of speakers, ready and willing to address the opportunities for Iraq in 2020.

The backdrop to this conference is not just COVID, but the election of a new American President, rising oil prices, a fundamental change in the way oil and gas companies are globally which will also affect their work in Iraq, a Government willing and able to make significant changes, in the way finance operates, investors can start up and a white paper that will impact a range of activity and on-going digital modernisation.

All these topics will be covered, and we are expecting significant speakers and attendees from our membership and the Ministry of Oil, the Deputy Minister of Electricity, and online from the World Bank, Central Bank payments director and Ministry of Communications, Mastercard and Zain Cash to name a few.

You can hear about one of the biggest changes as the oil and gas companies redefine themselves as Energy companies, and vertically integrate fuel with electricity generation. BP, Shell, Siemens and Ministry of Electricity will address this and other matters on the Energy panel.

On the Finance panel, we are looking at how to operate successfully in the present very challenging financial situation of the country. New proposals by the Government's white paper will also be discussed and how these align with the need of private sector.

Finally, the Tech Forum with the World Bank on the digitisation of Iraq, the progress that is being made with GOI, and to hear from Mastercard and GSMA and Thinkbank on consumer online behaviour and attitudes.

Now is a great opportunity for change and we believe Iraq won't let the opportunity go to waste. Iraq is at a critical inflection point and the Government understands the importance of encouraging the private sector as a vehicle to solving investment, jobs and diversifying the economy at this time, which is why we are expecting a strong attendance from members and speakers alike from sectors crucial to Iraq's future.

As we look to the coming year, we see a Government making good decisions, investing in large projects, understanding the importance of diversifying its economy and also providing work and opportunity to its young population.

Now is the time to turn up, attend and make plans for the future of Iraq, and we look forward to welcoming you.

Please register here:

https://iraqbritainbusiness.org/event/ibbc-autumn-conference-at-the-address-hotel-dubai-marina

The post Why you should come to IBBC Conference: Opportunity in Adversity first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Breaking Out of Fragility: Diversification and Growth in Iraq

Breaking Out of Fragility: A Country Economic Memorandum for Diversification and Growth in Iraq

Iraq is at a crossroads. Almost two decades after the 2003 war, the country remains caught in a fragility trap, facing increasing political instability, growing social unrest, and a deepening state-citizen divide.

Amid a multitude of crises (including an oil price shock, the COVID-19 pandemic, and recent protests) as well as a culmination of poor economic policies, a lack of reforms, and an inability to tackle corruption, Iraq is having its worst annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth performance in 2020 since the fall of the Saddam regime.

Instability, a lack of jobs, corruption, and poor service delivery remain among the most important risks to the country's long-term growth.

With every crisis comes an opportunity to reform. However, Iraq's path to reform will be challenging and uncertain. Given current oil prices and the persistent drop in global demand for oil because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country will have a tough time addressing the needs of its people in the short term.

It can, however, embark on a long but much-needed path toward structural transformation and reform, one that could leave its economy less dependent on oil and more driven by private sector activity.

The widespread protests since October 2019, which have called into the question the country's current political economy, illustrate that such path for reform can no longer be avoided. Nevertheless, as this report shows, this path will demand persistence, and Iraq will face much uncertainty as it tries to address its long-lasting challenges and change the status quo.

This report highlights what Iraq can do to sustain future growth, but it also shows why the country has not yet managed to achieve high levels of diversified growth alongside peace, stability, and a better standard of living for its people.

The report also suggests strategic pathways by which Iraq can break free from this fragility trap, in which peace and stability can create the conditions for people to fulfill their aspirations, find private sector jobs, and thrive.

In this context, the report's four chapters provide:

  1. an understanding of Iraq's underlying fragility and political economy challenges and their implications for a diversified growth model;
  2. an analysis of Iraq's growth characteristics and the country's potential for and benefits from eco¬nomic diversification;
  3. a trade diagnostic and assessment of Iraq's potential for trade and regional integration to create growth and stability; and,
  4. a review of Iraq's agriculture sector, from primary agriculture to agrifood systems, and its potential to support economic diversification, growth, and stability.

Breaking Out of Fragility: A Country Economic Memorandum for Diversification and Growth in Iraq (Full Report in a PDF Format)

(Source: World Bank)

The post Breaking Out of Fragility: Diversification and Growth in Iraq first appeared on Iraq Business News.