The official exchange rate for Monday was set at 117.6300 dinars per euro, the central bank said in a statement after the intervention that aimed to …

The EITI Board has decided that Iraq has made meaningful progress in implementing the EITI Standard.

Validation, the EITI’s quality assurance process, found that Iraq’s performance in implementing EITI Requirements has improved markedly since the country’s first Validation in 2017. Iraq’s suspension as a result of poor results in its first Validation has now been lifted, a development that reflects a substantial rate of progress over the last two years.

“Iraq’s implementation of the EITI Standard is now disclosing some USD 45bn in crude oil sales annually,” said Chair of the EITI Board Helen Clark. “The challenge now is for Iraq to strengthen multi-stakeholder oversight of its extractive industries and to use this emerging transparency to enhance accountability in the governance of its natural resources.”

Breaking ground in data disclosures

The Board recognised Iraq’s progress, through the EITI, in disclosing information that was previously inaccessible to stakeholders, ranging from data on oilfields and petroleum property rights to publishing the financial statements of oil and gas state-owned enterprises.

Iraq’s most recent EITI reporting also provides a diagnostic of the efficacy of government oversight of the extractives, including in identifying arrears of undisbursed subnational transfers of ‘petrodollar’ allocations. Validation has acknowledged these tangible gains in the transparency of Iraq’s oil and gas sector, building on a series of first-ever disclosures.

“The results of this second Validation reflect our concerted efforts to open up the management of Iraq’s oil and gas industry through regular and comprehensive disclosures,” said Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Oil Thamer Al-Ghadhban. “We want to use the EITI not only to frame our systematic disclosures of oil and gas data but more importantly to support an evidence-based debate on our reforms.”

From transparency to accountability

Yet this emerging transparency has not been matched by commensurate efforts to ensure the data contributes to public debate and decision-making. Systematically disclosing data required by the EITI Standard would enable Iraq to focus on using EITI data to improve accountability in the governance of the oil and gas sector.

The Board encouraged Iraq to integrate its systematic disclosures of EITI data to ongoing public finance management reforms, such as the World Bank and European Union’s modernisation of Public Financial Management systems project.

The Board also urged Iraq to strengthen its multi-stakeholder oversight of the extractives to ensure more active contributions from companies and civil society to the government’s management of the extractive industries, including through the Multi-Stakeholder Group overseeing EITI implementation.

The decision by the EITI Board gives Iraq 18 months to address 12 gaps in its implementation of the EITI Standard before a third Validation on 17 April 2021.

Iraq submitted an adapted implementation request for its 2016-2018 EITI Reports, and the Board did not therefore take account of weaknesses in coverage of Iraqi Kurdistan in its assessment of Iraq’s progress in implementing the EITI Standard.

(Source: EITI)

Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian (pictured) has said the export of electricity to neighboring countries has reached a record high in the past year.

Addressing a Sunday session of Tehran’s City Council, Ardakanian said management of the situation over the past two water years has helped the country break the record in three sectors of the power industry.

The minister said the records in electricity generation, power consumption and exports have been broken since 2017-2018 water year.

According to Ardakanian, Iran’s export of electricity to neighboring states, particularly to Iraq, reached a record high last year.

Ardakanian and his Iraqi counterpart Luay al-Khatteeb signed two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and a contract in February to boost cooperation between the two countries in the electricity industry.

On Wednesday, a US State Department spokesman said Washington has once again exempted Iraq from its sanctions against Iran, allowing the Arab country to continue gas and electricity imports from the Islamic Republic for another four-month period.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By John Lee.

Fair competition is needed to economically empower women in the Arab world

Female labor force participation levels in Arab countries are the lowest in the world, despite the rising educational attainment of women reaching working age, according to an article from the Middle East Institute.

Rabah Arezki, Ferid Belhaj argue that young women across the Arab world exceed the education levels of young men, who are worrisomely falling behind.

Remedying the underrepresentation of Arab women in the labor force and reviving the educational motivation of young men are both social and economic imperatives, they say.

More here.

(Source: Middle East Institute)

By Amnesty International.

Iraq: Stop security forces from threatening, forcibly disappearing and abusing activists

The Iraqi authorities must immediately end a relentless campaign of intimidation and assault against activists in Baghdad and reveal the whereabouts of others, among them a doctor and a lawyer forcibly disappeared more than 10 days ago, Amnesty International said on Friday.

The organization has spoken to 11 activists, relatives of detained activists, as well as journalists and lawyers from Baghdad, Diwaniya, Basra and Amarah.

Their testimony shows that Iraqi security forces are systematically targeting anyone speaking out against the conduct of security forces during the protests.

More here.

(Source: Amnesty International)

By John Lee.

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Finance of the government of Iraq aimed at rebuilding Iraq and enhancing trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

The MOU replaces the previous agreement signed in Kuwait in February 2018 and increases the total amount of EXIM financing potentially available under the MOU from $3 billion up to a total of $5 billion.

At EXIM headquarters in Washington this afternoon, EXIM President and Chairman Kimberly A. Reed signed the MOU with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Fuad Hussein. The signing also was witnessed by Iraq Ambassador to the United States Fareed Yasseen.

EXIM President and Chairman Kimberly A. Reed said,

This MOU signals to the marketplace that U.S. companies and their workers in America want to be a part of the rebuilding effort in Iraq.

“We anticipate that the EXIM-backed financing to follow from this agreement will support exporter and supply-chain jobs in multiple industries across the United States and also foster job creation in Iraq.

“Iraq is an important partner to the United States, and we look forward to working together to strengthen the relationship between our two countries.

Under the MOU, EXIM and Iraq’s Ministry of Finance agreed to identify potential projects in Iraq for procurement of U.S.-produced goods and services. EXIM agreed to explore options for providing the agency’s medium- and long-term loans, guarantees, and export credit insurance to support U.S. exports to Iraq.

For projects that may be eligible for EXIM support, cooperation between the Ministry of Finance and EXIM would be directed towards qualifying such projects for approval by both institutions.

(Source: EXIM)

By John Lee.

To improve living conditions for returnee populations living in newly liberated areas, UNOPS – with funding from the government of Japan – is helping to provide renewable energy and emergency waste disposal services in three Iraqi governorates.

“[This project] comes at a time when Iraq is counting on its friends to recover after its battle against ISIS and after the liberation of Iraqi territories,” said Mr. Istabraq Al shook, Deputy Minister of Iraq’s Ministry of Construction, Housing, Municipalities and Public Works at a recent handover ceremony.

“The UN and the people of Japan and its government showed a solid commitment to stand by Iraq during critical hard times and after the crisis. Today’s closing ceremony is a testimony of this commitment,” he added.

With a $3.1 million donation from the government of Japan, UNOPS procured solid waste machinery and provided specialized training to local authorities on modern waste disposal systems, better utilization of debris, and waste sorting and recycling.

UNOPS further installed solar systems – to help alleviate frequent electricity shortages – as well as street lights and water heaters in six health facilities in the governorates of Anbar, Diyala and Ninewa.

“I hope that this project helps to urgently restore basic services needed for daily lives, such as energy and waste disposal, and that the people in those liberated areas can restore and lead a stable life as quickly as possible,” said Mr. Naofumi Hashimoto, Ambassador of Japan to Iraq.

“UNOPS remains committed to supporting the government and the people of Iraq in addressing significant challenges the country is facing, and remains grateful to the people and government of Japan for their continued support to the people of Iraq,” said UNOPS Programme Advisor Ms. Huda Al-Ani.

Mr. Ahmed Shalash, Deputy Director General of Engineering Affairs at the Ministry of Health and Environment, and Mr. Abdul Qadir Al Dhakheel, General Director of Ninewa Municipality attended the handover ceremony held in Baghdad.

(Source: UNOPS)

GardaWorld, a global leader in comprehensive security and risk management, has made its weekly security report available to Iraq Business News readers.

Prepared by GardaWorld’s Risk Analysis Team in Iraq, this essential report includes short- and medium-term outlooks on the security situation, reports and commentary on recent significant events, and a detailed overview of developments across the country.

Please click here to download the latest report free of charge.

For more information on how GardaWorld’s services can support your business in Iraq, please contact Daniel Matthews, Senior Director Iraq, at daniel.matthews@garda.com