Iraq Industry & Trade News

Iraqi, Turkish Investors eye Iranian Petrol Stations

By John Lee.

Private investors from Iraq and Turkey have reportedly held preliminary negotiations with Iran to expand and modernize its fuel stations.

According to a report from Petrol Plaza, there are 3,600 fuel stations and 2,400 compressed natural gas (CNG) stations in Iran which need renovation and investment.

To date, more than 250 state-controlled fuel stations have been privatized in the country.

(Source: Petrol Plaza)

(Picture credit: Asadi S)

Iraq Falls in Ease of Doing Business Index

By John Lee.

Iraq has been ranked 168th out of 190 countries in the World Bank‘s recent Doing Business 2018 report, down from 165th place the previous year.

Despite the fall in the rankings, the report notes that over the previous year Iraq simplified the process of starting a business by combining multiple registration procedures and reducing the time to register a company, and it launched a new credit registry, improving access to credit information.

Top of the list were New Zealand, Singapore and Denmark, with last place going to Somalia, just behind Eritrea and Venezuela. Iran ranked 124th, with Libya 185th.

Doing Business measures regulations affecting 11 areas of the life of a business. Ten of these areas are included in this year’s ranking on the ease of doing business: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency. Doing Business also measures labor market regulation, which is not included in this year’s ranking.

(Source: World Bank)

No Winners In Iraq’s New ‘War On Corruption’

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Every day new anti-corruption cases are announced in Iraq’s new “war on corruption”. Yet they achieve virtually nothing. This may well be a war that nobody in Iraq can win.

Last week the Iraqi prime minister, Haidar al-Abadi, said that now that the war against the extremist group known as the Islamic State had been won, that a new war should be fought – and this one would be against corruption.

Last year the advocacy organisation Transparency International says that Iraq was the 166th most corrupt country in the world out of 176. And corruption of all kinds has been a problem in the country for decades. It’s almost a way of life here. So this will be far from an easy fight. In fact, it may prove to be more difficult than the fight against the Islamic State group.

Iraqi politics functions according to a kind of unofficial sectarian quota system that was established after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime.  In order to avoid sectarian infighting among politicians, US administrators thought it best to split the most important positions in Iraq’s new Parliament between the three major ethnic and sectarian groups in the country; that is, the Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims and Iraqi Kurdish.

Over time though, many analysts believe this practice has come to hamper Iraqi democracy, with leaders being picked for their sect or ethnicity, rather than on merit.

And the system is far more problematic than that. In reality, it is based on two further principles: How much power each appointment gives to the person who gets the job, and therefore how much money the appointment can generate.

Every party in the Iraqi government today also has what is known as an “economics office”, a bureau tasked with raising funds for the political party using the government jobs held by the members themselves. According to insiders, who cannot be named for security reasons, these offices coordinate making deals and signing contracts behind the scenes so that investments and kickbacks are shared with the political party itself.

US emphasises Importance of Sound Banking System

US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman (pictured) has  joined other distinguished guests and speakers at the Iraq Banking and Investment Summit on December 2.

The Ambassador spoke about the need to create economic opportunity for Iraq’s younger generation through a transition from a government-controlled, oil-based economy, toward a more diversified free market system that fosters and encourages private investment.

He noted the need to improve the ease of doing business in Iraq and emphasized that a sound banking system will be crucial to provide financing for aspiring entrepreneurs and business people.

The U.S. Embassy supports Prime Minister Abadi’s efforts to address these reforms and ‎is actively engaged in promoting U.S. business investment in Iraq.

(Source: US Embassy)

Iraq Falls Again in Prosperity Index

By John Lee.

Iraq has fallen one place in this year’s Legatum Institute Prosperity Index, ranking in 142nd place out of the 149 countries measured.

The index ranks countries according to its nine pillars of prosperity: Economic Quality, Business Environment, Governance, Personal Freedom, Social Capital, Safety and Security, Education, Health and Natural Environment.

Despite Iraq’s dismal performance, the report found some areas of improvement:

“While its prosperity has been hit hard by the presence of ISIS, Social Capital has improved more than any other pillar over the last five years. Over the same timeframe it has seen a greater increase in Social Capital than any other country. The sense here is that in the midst of violence, Iraqis do not let go of their relationships; rather, they strengthen them.”

It also noted that, “despite ongoing conflict, Iraq has improved its Personal Freedom score significantly in the last five years.”

But it also pointed out that, “with oil rents amounting to 29% of GDP, Iraq ranks bottom in the world for the diversity of its exports.

Norway re-gained its place at the top of the Index, pushing New Zealand into second place, with Finland maintaining its position in third place.

The least prosperous country is again Yemen, behind the Central African Republic and Sudan.

(Source: Legatum Institute)

Saudi Bottler to Open New Plant in Iraq

By John Lee.

A Saudi-based bottling company is reported to be planning to open a new factory in Iraq next year.

According to The National, Aujan Coca-Cola Beverages Company (ACCBC), a subsidiary of Aujan Group Holding, will invest up to 250 million Saudi riyals ($67 million) over the next two years, creating for more than 150 jobs.

The new plant will include manufacturing lines for juices and soft drinks, and will also supply to neighbouring markets.

(Source: The National)

“Unprecedented Upsurge” in Iraqis seeking Second Citizenship

By John Lee.

The escalating tensions between Baghdad and Erbil have triggered an unprecedented upsurge in applications from wealthy Iraqi nationals for second citizenship programs.

Data collected by Savory & Partners, one of the largest companies in the Middle East that provides citizenship-by-investment programs, shows that compared to the same quarter last year, interest has increased by 300 percent, while applications processed are more than 42 percent higher than last year.

Company founder and CEO Jeremy Savory (pictured) told Iraq Business News:

The immediate days following the Kurdistan referendum saw a remarkable spike in the number of applicants from Iraq, not only from Kurdish Iraqis, but from all parts of Iraq.

“In the past, the Iraqi passport was very strong … but over recent years the number of countries which have visa-free waivers has dropped considerably; hence, the need for second passport that enables people to travel to more countries visa free has seen a great spike.

We have done Iraqi citizenship applications for Iraqi nationals for all the five Caribbean jurisdictions, all of which have been approved by the government. We have done European citizenship applications for Malta and Cyprus for Iraqi nationals, too.

Iraqis constitute the company’s third largest client group after Syrians and Lebanese, with St. Kitts, Grenada and Dominica in the three most popular programs with an equal demand for all three programs. The company had only one Iraqi rejection in the last six years out of total of close to 800 passports, a rejection rate of less than 1 percent.

GE signs $400m Contract for 14 Electric Substations

The Iraqi Ministry of Electricity (MoE) has signed an agreement worth over $400 million with GE Power (NYSE: GE) to develop 14 electric substations on a turnkey basis and supply critical equipment such as transformers, circuit breakers and other outdoor equipment to rehabilitate existing substations and bring much-needed power to areas facing significant electricity shortages across the country.

The project represents a strategic milestone for GE to develop electric substations in Iraq, and will also see the Company support the MoE to secure funding through various financial institutions, including export credit agencies and commercial banks.

Mussab al-Mudaris, spokesperson of the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity said:

“The agreement represents a major milestone in our efforts to strengthen Iraq’s power transmission sector, through a comprehensive grid project across the nation. Our focus remains on providing our people with the most reliable and advanced technology to meet their daily needs, and to accomplish this we need strong partners in this journey of development and reconstruction. GE has the technology, global capabilities and local presence to ensure the successful and sustainable execution of the project.”

GE will develop the substations to connect power plants spread across the governorates of Ninawa, Salah Al Din, Al Anbar, Karbala, Baghdad, Qadisiyyah and Basra to the national grid. Several of the locations, in conflict-affected areas, are continuing to recover and are in immediate need of reliable power infrastructure.

GE Power has previously provided power generation equipment for some of the power plants that the substations will be connected to, including the three gigawatt Basmaya Power Plant. The current agreement includes 4 substations critical to distributing power from the facility, which is also being equipped with eight of GE’s 9FA gas turbines, four GE C7 steam turbines and GE’s leading digital industrial applications.

Iraq Britain Business Council welcomes 3 New Members

By John Lee.

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) has welcomed three new members, bringing its membership to 59 companies.

Menzies Aviation: An independent, time-critical logistics specialist serving the airline industry to the highest standards. At more than 200 airport locations across 6 continents, Menzies offer landside and airside services tailored to customers’ needs; timed to their schedules; and delivered by teams with the knowledge, tools and passion to set standards rather than chase them.

XReach: A leading supplier of mobile communications and cyber security solutions to businesses, government, military and law enforcement agencies. It employs high-end system, network and coding development personnel sourced from specialist UK military and government cyber security backgrounds.

The University of Leicester: A leading university committed to international excellence, world-changing research and high quality, inspirational teaching. The University celebrates diversity amongst staff and students; widening participation in higher education and engaging with local, national and international communities.

(Source: IBBC)

Iraq Resumes Bid for Full WTO Membership

At an informal meeting of the Working Party on the Accession of Iraq held on 17 November 2017, WTO members welcomed Iraq’s stated determination to resume its WTO accession process after nine years of dormancy. The meeting further provided the opportunity for the government of Iraq and members to exchange views on next steps for that formal resumption in the near term.

Mr Adel Al-Masoodi, Director-General of the Foreign Economic Relations Department of the Ministry of Trade and Vice Chairman of the Iraqi National Committee on Accession to the WTO, said:

We are here with you at the headquarters of the World Trade Organization to assure you that Iraq is fully committed to the process of economic reform and to be part of the global economic system.

“We look forward to opening new horizons for co-operation with the WTO, all international organizations and the international community.

Ambassador Mouayed Saleh, Permanent Representative of Iraq in Geneva, also spoke on behalf of the Iraqi delegation. He said that Iraq is at the beginning of a long and complex WTO accession process “which will take years“, but he highlighted the firm and unequivocal will of the government and the people of Iraq to move forward and become an integral part of the international economic and trading system, following a very difficult time in Iraq’s recent history.

Indeed, Ambassador Saleh underlined that the main reason that Iraq’s formal accession process had fallen dormant had been the need for Iraq to focus on improving the security situation in the country in recent years.

The Iraqi delegation in Geneva included other high-level officials from the Ministry of Trade, the Council of Ministers, the State Commission for Customs, the Ministry of Planning, and the Central Bank of Iraq.