Iraq Banking & Finance News

US in ‘Wait and See’ Position After Iraq Election

The victory of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s party in Iraq’s recent election has put the United States in a wait-and-see position, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis told reporters yesterday in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The secretary was in Colorado to preside at the change-of-command ceremony for North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command.

“History tells us that all wars eventually end, and the decisions you take following a war — comparing the United States leadership after World War II, versus what came out of Versailles after World War I — can set the conditions for the future,” the secretary said, adding that in this case, the United States must first see who is going to be the prime minister, because no party or coalition won enough to govern Iraq on its own.

After World War II

“First, all wars eventually come to an end. By 1948, ’49, after the vicious World War II, the Pacific Island Campaign was as vicious a fighting between two nations that’s ever been in history,” Mattis said. “We all know what Germany did during World War II with death camps [and] with invasions across Europe.”

And yet, by 1948 and 1949, he said, “we were standing up NATO to defend Western Europe, and we were working with Germany.”

“The Marshall Plan was underway,” Mattis said. “We were [also] working with Japan.” Germany and Japan now are U.S. treaty allies, he noted.

Mattis pointed out that despite the rout of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, some terrorists remain in Iraq. “But it was interesting, wasn’t it, that in the midst of everything going on next door in Syria, having recently destroyed the ISIS strongholds in Iraq – they are still isolated cells of them, of course,” the secretary said.

A Responsive Government

The secretary reiterated the United States will have to see whether the new Iraqi leaders form a responsive government.

Mattis noted the Marshall Plan was met with initial skepticism.

“People in 1944 were told basically in five years we’ll be serving alongside German troops and sending locomotives and railroad tracks to Germany,” he said. “We would have laughed in your face, said that’s not going to happen; this is a war to the death. Damn near lost.”

But that’s exactly what we did, he noted.

“So wars rub the veneer off all of us and leave the passions really exposed, and now it’s time for strategic thinking, for looking to the future, and determining how the Iraqi people can dictate their future,” the secretary said, “not external threats from Iran, not money from Iran, not internal threats from ISIS or other terrorists.

“This is between our two governments, and we’ll see what government they end up with,” Mattis said. “So we’ll play that forward. It’s too early to tell.”

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

Mosul Dam Engineer may be Rescued

By John Lee.

Reuters reports that Bain Capital Credit has been chosen for a 900-million-euro ($1.06 billion) deal to rescue the heavily-indebted Italian engineering firm Trevi.

Among Trevi’s current projects is the stabilisation of Iraq’s Mosul Dam.

More here from Reuters.

(Source: Reuters)

DNO Completes $400m Bond Placement

DNO ASA, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, has completed the private placement of USD 400 million of new, five-year senior unsecured bonds to be issued at 100 percent of par with a coupon rate of 8.75 percent. The bond placement received strong investor demand across international markets and was oversubscribed.

The bond issue is expected to be settled on or about 31 May 2018, subject to customary conditions precedent. An application will be made for the bonds to be listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange.

In connection with the bond placement, the Company has agreed to roll over USD 200 million in nominal value of DNO01 bonds (ISIN: NO0010740392) at 103.25 percent of par plus accrued interest into the new bond. The rolled over bonds will be canceled and USD 200 million of outstanding DNO01 bonds will remain.

Net proceeds from the new bonds will be used towards refinancing the outstanding DNO01 bonds and for general corporate purposes.

Pareto Securities AS acted as lead manager and bookrunner with Danske Bank and SpareBank 1 Markets AS as co-managers and bookrunners.

(Source: DNO)

US puts Sanctions on Iraqi Bank

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on the Governor and a senior official of the Central Bank of Iran, an Iraq-based bank and its chairman, and a key Hizballah official, all of whom have moved millions of dollars on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to Hizballah.

They were designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.

“Iran’s Central Bank Governor covertly funneled millions of dollars on behalf of the IRGC-QF through Iraq-based al-Bilad Islamic Bank to enrich and support the violent and radical agenda of Hizballah.  It is appalling, but not surprising, that Iran’s senior-most banking official would conspire with the IRGC-QF to facilitate funding of terror groups like Hizballah, and it undermines any credibility he could claim in protecting the integrity of the institution as a central bank governor,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

“The United States will not permit Iran’s increasingly brazen abuse of the international financial system.  The global community must remain vigilant against Iran’s deceptive efforts to provide financial support to its terrorist proxies.”

Today’s action cuts off Iran’s use of a critical banking network and follows last Thursday’s disruption of an IRGC-QF-associated currency exchange network procuring millions of dollars through the UAE.  Both actions seek to stifle Iran’s ability to abuse the U.S. and regional financial systems.  These actions continue the aggressive campaign against the IRGC and its proxies that the Treasury Department has led under this Administration.

These actions build upon President Trump’s May 8 decision to cease the United States’ participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and begin reimposing U.S. sanctions that had been lifted under the JCPOA, including against the Central Bank of Iran.

The IRGC-QF was designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 on October 25, 2007.  The IRGC-QF’s parent organization, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) itself was also designated on October 13, 2017 pursuant to E.O. 13224 for its support to the IRGC-QF, and consistent with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

Hizballah was designated by the Department of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in October 1997 and as an SDGT pursuant to E.O. 13224 in October 2001.  It was listed in January 1995 in the Annex to E.O. 12947, which targets terrorists who threaten to disrupt the Middle East peace process, and also designated in August 2012 pursuant to E.O. 13582, which targets the Government of Syria and its supporters.

Iran’s Central Bank Governor and a Senior Staff Officer

OFAC is designating Valiollah Seif, Iran’s Central Bank Governor, for assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF.  Seif has conspired with the IRGC-QF to move millions of dollars through the international financial system in a variety of foreign currencies to allow the IRGC­QF to fund its activities abroad.  Seif has also supported the transfer of IRGC-QF-associated funds to al-Bilad Islamic Bank, an Iraq-based bank which is also being designated today.

OFAC also is designating Ali Tarzali, the assistant director of the International Department at the Central Bank of Iran, for assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF.  Tarzali has worked with Hizballah and proposed that the terrorist group send funds through Iraq-based al-Bilad Islamic Bank.

As a result of today’s actions, Veifollah Seif and Ali Tarzali are subject to secondary sanctions pursuant to the Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations (IFSR), which implement, among other authorities, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA).  Pursuant to the IFSR, OFAC can prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account by a foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction for designated agents or affiliates of the IRGC or persons designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 in connection with Iran’s support for international terrorism or E.O. 13382 in connection with Iran’s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.

Today’s designations of Valiollah Seif, Iran’s Central Bank Governor, and Ali Tarzali, assistant director of the International Department at the Central Bank of Iran, do not extend to the Central Bank of Iran.  However, due to President Trump’s May 8, 2018 decision to cease the United States’ participation in the JCPOA, as of August 7, 2018, the United States Government will re-impose sanctions that extend to certain transactions with the Central Bank of Iran, including sanctions on the purchase or acquisition of U.S. dollars banknotes by the Government of Iran.  Furthermore, on November 5, 2018, additional sanctions will be re-imposed on persons knowingly engaging in certain significant transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.

Al-Bilad Islamic Bank and Its Chairman and Chief Executive

OFAC is designating Aras Habib, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Al-Bilad Islamic Bank, for assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF.  Aras Habib enabled the IRGC-QF’s exploitation of Iraq’s banking sector to move funds from Tehran to Hizballah, jeopardizing the integrity of the Iraqi financial system.  Habib, who has a history of serving as a conduit for financial disbursements from the IRGC-QF to Iranian-backed Iraqi groups, has also helped provide IRGC-QF financial support to Lebanese Hizballah.  Al-Bilad Islamic Bank is being designated for being owned or controlled by Aras Habib.

As a result of today’s actions, Aras Habib and Al-Bilad Bank are subject to secondary sanctions pursuant to the IFSR, which implement, among other authorities, CISADA.  Pursuant to the IFSR, OFAC can prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account by a foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction for designated agents or affiliates of the IRGC or persons designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 in connection with Iran’s support for international terrorism or E.O. 13382 in connection with Iran’s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.

Hizballah Official Working with IRGC-QF

OFAC is designating Muhammad Qasir (Qasir) for acting for or on behalf of Hizballah.  Qasir acted as a critical conduit for financial disbursements from the IRGC-QF to Hizballah.  Qasir has worked with the IRGC-QF to transfer funds.

Qasir is subject to secondary sanctions pursuant to the Hizballah Financial Sanctions Regulations, which implements the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015.  Pursuant to this authority, OFAC can prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account by a foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction for Hizballah, or a person acting on behalf of or at the direction of, or owned or controlled by, Hizballah.

Identifying information on the individuals and entities designated today.

(Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury)

Video: Corruption Watchdog says $320bn Stolen

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The parliamentary transparency commission in Iraq says $320 billion has gone missing in the past 15 years, because of government c.

It’s one of many big issues weighing on the minds of Iraqis as they prepare to vote for a new parliament on Saturday.

Al Jazeera‘s Imran Khan reports from Baghdad, Iraq.

Japan Supports Development of Water Supply and Irrigation

JICA to Support Reconstruction through Development and Rehabilitation of Water Supply and Irrigation Facilities:

On 3 May, 2018, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Iraqi Government signed two loan agreements at Ministry of Finance in Baghdad.

These two ODA (Official Development Assistance) loans, amounting to JPY 34,880 million (approximately USD 329 million) in total, will be used for Basrah Water Supply Improvement Project (II) and Irrigation Sector Loan (Phase 2).

The loan agreements were signed by Dr. Maher Hammad Johan, Acting Deputy Minister of Finance and Masayuki Hirosawa, Chief Representative of JICA Iraq Office, in the presence of H.E. Mr. Fumio Iwai, Japanese Ambassador to Iraq.  These concessional ODA loans aim to contribute to economic and social reconstruction of Iraq by supporting the Government of Iraq and Iraqi people in efforts to reconstruct and develop further the basic infrastructures for utilization of water resources.

The first loan, Basrah Water Supply Improvement Project (II) amounting to JPY 19,415 million (approx. USD 183 million), is the second tranche loan for Basrah Water Supply Improvement Project.  The entire project is intended to develop water supply facilities and to improve quantity and quality of water supplied in Basrah city and Hartha city.

A new treatment plant with a reverse osmosis plant and transmission system, including a reservoir and a pumping station, are under construction with the finance of the first tranche, the amount of which is JPY 42,969 million (approx. USD 350 million).  The second tranche will be utilized mainly for construction of transmission lines.  After the completion, approximately 600, 000 residents and businesses in the two cities are expected to have access to clean and reliable water.

The second loan, Irrigation Sector Loan (Phase 2) amounting to JPY 15,465 million (approx. USD 146 million), aims to improve agricultural productivity by construction and rehabilitation of irrigation/drainage facilities and restoration of farmland mainly in the Tigris and Euphrates river basin.

While agriculture is the main source of employment and livelihoods for rural population in Iraq, its productivity remains low due to drought in summer seasons, aged irrigation and drainage systems, and rising salinity level of soil and water, and reduced river inflow from the upstream countries. Following the previous first phase project in similar nature assisted by JICA, this second phase project is expected to contribute to increased agricultural production, reduced soil degradation, more job opportunities, and alleviation of poverty in rural areas.

These loans are very concessional with the low interest rates and long repayment periods: the interest rate of 1% and the repayment period of 20 years including 6-year grace period for Basrah Water Supply Improvement Project (II), and the interest rate of JPY 6-month LIBOR+0.15% and the repayment period of 25 years including 7-year grace period for Irrigation Sector Loan (Phase 2).

(Source: JICA)

Iraq Investment and Reconstruction Opportunities Forum

Under the Patronage of H.E Prime Minister, Dr. Haider Al Abadi, organized by the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers and the National Investment Commission (NIC) in cooperation with Economy and Business Group, the Iraq Investment and Reconstruction Opportunities Forum was held in Baghdad on Thursday the 26th April witnessing a wide local, Arab and international participation.

Dr. Sami R Al Araji, Chairman of the National Investment Commission confirmed in his opening speech that this forum is completing what has been achieved in the Kuwait international conference held last February where 212 strategic and medium  investment project were presented out of 1100 project in the investment map for 2018. This forum gave the opportunity to many businessmen who missed the chance to participate in the conference to discuss new projects in different fields.

It also witnessed singing memoranda of understanding and granting a number of investment licenses. He expressed his happiness for Iraq embracing more than 700 businessmen from public, private and international community.

Dr. Mehdi Al Alaq, the General Secretary of the Council of Ministers greeted the attendees on behalf of the Prime Minster and conveyed his wishes for more success and support for the economic sector to secure a safe investment environment.

He added, the resolutions issued by the Council of Minister before the Kuwait conference event confirmed the Prime Minister’s approached to support this vital sector, pointing at the efforts of the follow up team to organize the official obligations offered by countries and funds as discussions have already started to fulfill their commitment. He also expressed his faith that the next few months will witness a big reconstruction and investment activity supported by the government.

He was open to discuss any difficulties facing investors while he thanked all those who participated in launching this economic forum.

Mr. Nail Al Kabarity, chairman of the Arab Trade Chambers called to invest in Iraq because it enjoys an attracting environment, a promising market, and a governmental support. He added that Iraq needs more support from Arab countries, so the Arab Trade Chambers Union is happy to participate economic partnerships with Iraq in serving the Iraqi people who are the actual wealth in Iraq.

Representing the World Bank, Yara Salim confirmed the Bank commitment to support Iraq in its reconstruction campaign which is part of the international obligation towards Iraq in the Kuwait conference, she is already involved in several projects working on achieving this goal side by side with the National Investment Commission by PIC capacity building and developing investment attracting legislations to create an integrated investment environment. She added that the World Bank is currently working with the Central Bank of Iraq to fund and develop the vital sectors and invest in the human resources.

In his speech, Mr. Hatem Al Qawasmi, the executive partner and founder of KPMG determined three aspects for Iraq’s future: the first is the Iraqi economic features, the second is including the main investment opportunities while the third is a presentation of what his institution can offer Iraq.

He explained some of the strategic features of developing the Iraqi private sector for the next ten years due to its ability to develop the local economy and compete with counterparts in the region by developing the organizational structures for the state owned companies to cope with the new economic reality.

The first opening session included the Executive Chairman of Economy and Business Group Mr. R. Abo Zaki’s speech where he mentioned that Iraq is on the cross line at the present time, leaving behind years of war and destruction, looking forward a prosperous future and needs a long term economic plan that enhances investment in the private sector to work effectively with the international economy.

Six investment licenses were granted during the form, four of them were granted to DICO International Holding LTD (British) to develop the three main central malls in Baghdad while the forth was for Al Muftiya project in Basra Province (housing, recreational, commercial). The fifth and sixth licenses were granted to Al Ghaith Co. (UAE) to establish the Sodium hydroxide plant and food salt factory in Muthana Province.

The National Investment Commission singed three memoranda of understanding with investor Jawad Abo Khamees (Kuwaiti) to build hotels, service and commercials centers in Baghdad, Karbala and Saladin Provinces. A forth memoranda was singed with Qeewan Group and Jawad Al Qasab to build five stars hotel and a mall in Baghdad, while the fifth one was singed with Al Arabiya for Airports and 21st Century for Satellites Co.s.

The sixth and seventh memoranda were signed with Majd Al Ardh to build the economic zone in Baghdad and Dr. Rafii Ibrahim Al Rawi to develop Al Andalus Oncology Hospital in Baghdad.

The first session under the title (Partnership in Investment) attended by Mr .Ali Al Alaq, the Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, Mr. Wadee Al Handhal, Chairman of the Private Iraqi Banks, Mr. Ahmed Al Qadhi from EY and Mohamed Al Mutawaa from Al Baraka Group where all discussed funding the infrastructure projects, foreign and Arab investment experiences in Iraq and partnership potentials with Arab and foreign countries.

The second session included the General Secretary of the Council of Minsters Dr. Mehdi Al Alaq speech regarding the procedures aiming at improving the investment environment in Iraq. Dr. Sami R. Al Araji presented the most important investment opportunities. Also there were two other speeches for Mr. Ahmed Al Wakeel and Saib Nahhas.

Round tables sessions started later in two parts, the first part was between the governmental agencies and the private sector (Iraqi and foreign) while the second part was among the governmental agencies, private sector and international agencies.

30 companies from public and private sector were represented in an exhibition along with the forum showing available opportunities in both sectors.

A number of ministers (Oil, Planning, Reconstruction and Housing, Trade, Central Bank of Iraq) attended the event in addition to a high level diplomatic representation for 30 Arab and foreign countries including ambassadors, vice ministers, director generals, economic organizations and representatives of the Iraqi private sector.

(Source: NIC)

Iraq Targets Terrorism Financing with Blacklist

By Wassim Bassem for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News

The UN’s committee overseeing sanctions on the Islamic State and al-Qaeda has approved an Iraqi request to include Al-Kawthar Money Exchange and its owner Umar al-Kubaysi, as well as Salem Mustafa Mohammed al-Mansour, aka Salem al-Afri, on the UN sanctions list.

On April 17, 2017, the Central Bank of Iraq announced the inclusion of Al-Kawthar Money Exchange and its owner in its blacklist as a result of their support for terrorist groups.

Parliament member Majida al-Tamimi, who serves in the finance committee, told Al-Monitor that Iraq is pursuing the inclusion of “other individuals and companies in the list of UN sanctions upon proof of their funding of IS.”

She said, “I have a lot of documents that confirm the involvement of figures, organizations and banking companies in the support of terrorism.” She declined to name them but confirmed that the government is looking closely at money transfer services, saying, “Funds are sent by parties in Turkey and the Gulf countries and end up in the hands of IS leaders.”

She went on, “Money transfers are done through legal channels because those involved carry official identity cards with clear names and documented information, and they use official methods for transferring the money. Also, contacts are made through new and cheap technologies that enable them to carry out money transfers quickly and easily.”

She revealed that around 45 lawsuits have been filed against money transfer services “in the wake of accusations that were reinforced by Iraqi intelligence.”

While Tamimi predicted that “Iraq will succeed in drying up the sources of terrorism,” Wathiq Jabri, adviser for the Iraqi Center for Media Development, told Al-Monitor that the information in his possession indicates that the Iraqi state is working on names to include in the domestic and UN sanctions list.

He added, “The inclusion of these companies has a decisive impact on the Iraqi and global arenas in terms of cutting off the funds going to IS, especially as the money transfer companies and the financing means are transboundary and multinational.”

“The inclusion of companies on the list of UN sanctions is perceived as progress by Iraqi diplomacy in persuading the international community to fight terrorism,” he noted.

The role of small exchange offices associated with IS seems to have been critical in securing funding, especially in 2014 and 2015, allowing IS to take part in currency auctions organized by the Central Bank of Iraq. IS earned hundreds of millions of dollars in profits this way. According to the French authorities, more than 200 exchange offices in Lebanon and Turkey finance IS’ activities.

Furat al-Tamimi, parliamentarian for the province of Diyala, said in a 2017 press statement, “After its defeat in Iraq, IS is resorting to kidnappings to fund the activities of its dormant cells, and that the ransoms it obtains from the kidnappings amounted to about $45 million in 2017 alone.”

Meanwhile, Iskandar Watout, a member of the parliamentary security committee, told Al-Monitor, “IS has increased its kidnappings in the past couple of months through external roads, the outskirts of cities in the north of Baghdad and areas adjacent to the Kurdistan region, and these currently serve as the main source of funding for the organization.”

He went on, “The security services have monitored antiquities smuggling and trafficking operations carried out by traders who finance IS and smuggle antiquities in the desert far from security control in Mosul and Anbar.”

He pointed to another source of terrorist financing: drug trafficking. He stressed, “Iraqi intelligence agencies have accurate intelligence on the parties and figures that fund IS,” but refused to name any, citing ongoing legal proceedings in Iraq and abroad.

Al-Qadaa newspaper reported April 9, “The terrorist organizations have close links with organized criminal gangs that specialize in money transfers and laundering and the smuggling of people across countries.”

IS seems to be financially hanging on. The Economist reported Feb. 23 that IS still had a lot of money after managing to smuggle $400 million into Turkey and other countries after its defeat in Iraq and Syria. Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Mohammed Shayyah al-Sudani revealed March 24, “A ministry official in Mosul served as a minister within IS,” and noted, “There are employees at the ministry who worked for IS during its control of the city.”

(Picture: Iraqi dinars, from Wollertz/Shutterstock)

IBBC Spring Conference a Huge Success

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) held its annual Spring Conference at the Mansion House in London and a newly formatted second day forum for Iraqi and UK SMEs to discuss business opportunities at the Royal Overseas League on the 24th and 25th of April.

The event proved to be a huge success, with record attendances and expert speaker contribution fully captivating the positive and progressive forecast for Iraq in 2018. The Conference was chaired by Rasmi Al Jabri, Deputy Chairman and Iraq representative of IBBC, who’s significant standing in Iraq was fundamental to the success of the event.

The first day of the conference, entitled ‘Iraq: Building a diversified and modern economy’ was held at the Mansion House, home of the Lord Mayor of London and featured numerous Iraqi and UK politicians, industry experts, academics, government advisers and more. The day featured the newly incorporated roundtable discussions, which facilitated greater face time with industry experts and politicians and more in-depth discussions.

The main panel sessions focused on a wide range of sectors and industries to fully address the investment opportunities, need for diversification of the economy and progress of Iraq over the last year:

SESSION 1: FinanceMajor projects – the criteria for and process of obtaining finance for projects in Iraq

SESSION 2: TechnologyDeveloping Iraq’s digital economy’

SESSION 3: Energy and IndustryThe need for locally available products and services – how two sectors can help diversify Iraq’s Economy’

SESSION 4: Education and TrainingDeveloping human capital in Iraq’

A high-level delegation from the Government of Iraq was present, including H.E. Mohammed Shyaa Al-Sudani, Minister of Social Affairs & Acting Minister of Industry and Minerals, Mr Khadhem Al Hassani, Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister of Iraq and H.E. Dr Salih Husain Ali Al Tamimi, the Iraqi Ambassador to the UK, who were all invited to give opening addresses to IBBC Members and guests at the conference.

H.E. Dr Abdul Kariem Al Faisal, Chairman of the PM’s Advisory Commission and Mr Abbas Nasser, Legal Advisor to the Ministry of Transport and H.E. Nawzad Hadi, Governor of Erbil also attended the first day of the conference and held RoundTable discussions with IBBC Member representatives.

Several UK Government officials participated, including Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, The Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan and IBBC President, Jonathan Wilks CMG, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq and Baroness Fairhead CBE, Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion, Department for International Trade, which demonstrates the continuing trend of increased bilateral trade and relations over the last few years between the UK & Iraq.

(Source: IBBC)

Positive Indicators at IBBC Conference

At a major Iraqi business event in London on Tuesday, there was a strong sense that Iraq’s perceived risk profile is improving, and that this is an excellent time to do business in the country.

Nearly 300 delegates attended the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC)s Spring Conference at the Mansion House, which focused on “building a diversified and modern economy“, with many of those flying in from Iraq specially for the occasion.

This record attendance was just one of the positive indicators in evidence at the event, with speakers pointing to improved security, better relations between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the central government in Baghdad, and a growing trend towards up-skilling and capacity building in the local population; here at Iraq Business News, we’ve seen a positive indicator of our own, with a 15 percent increase in our website traffic over the past year.

Closing the conference’s first day, IBBC Managing Director Christophe Michels also drew attention to the growing number of companies joining his organisation, and a much more relaxed atmosphere in Iraq’s major cities.

The second day of the conference also saw a full house at the Royal Overseas League to discuss business opportunities for Iraqi and British small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

(Picture: Baroness Fairhead CBE, UK Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion, addressing the conference.)