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Rabee Securities Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) market report (week ending: 7th March 2019).

Please click here to download a table of listed companies and their associated ticker codes.

The RSISX index ended the week at IQD595 (+3.0%) / $640 (-2.0%) (weekly change) (-9.8% and -9.8% YTD change, respectively). The number of week traded shares was 14.8 bn and the weekly trading volume was IQD6.4 bn ($5.3 mn).

ISX Company Announcements

  • According to the ISX announcement, the opening price of the IQD5.0 mn class bonds (CB125) will be IQD5,375,890 on Sunday (Mar. 10, 2019). [Table: 2.3]
  • ISX will suspend trading of Trans Iraq Bank for Investment (BTRI) starting Mar. 17, 2019 due to the AGM* that will be held on Mar. 20, 2019 to discuss and approve 2017 annual financial results.
  • ISX will suspend trading of Middle East Producing & Marketing – Fish (AMEF) starting Mar. 14, 2019 due to the GA that will be held on Mar. 19, 2019 to elect new board members. AMEF will resume trading on Mar. 20, 2019.
  • ISX will suspend trading of Al-Mansour Bank (BMNS) starting Mar. 11, 2019 due to the AGM* that will be held on Mar. 14, 2019 to discuss and approve 2018 annual financial results.
  • Credit Bank of Iraq (BROI) will resume trading on Mar. 10, 2019 after discussing and approving 2017 annual financial results and deciding to distribute 2.5% cash dividend (IQD 0.025 dividend per share, 6.4% dividend yield). The opening price will be IQD0.37 with +/-20% change.
  • Al -Hilal Industries (IHLI) will resume trading on Mar. 10, 2019 due to disclosing its 2017 annual financial results.
  • ISX requested Modern Animal and Agricultural productions (AMAP) on Mar. 5, 2019 to disclose its AGM* minutes that was held on Feb. 28, 2019.
  • ISX suspended trading of International Islamic Bank (BINT) starting Mar. 4, 2019 due to the AGM* that will be held on Mar. 7 to increase company’s capital from IQD100 bn to IQD250 bn through 150% rights issue.
  • ISX announced that Al-Ameen Insurance (NAME) resumed trading on Mar. 4, because it received a letter sent by the Board of Insurance which is stating that NAME is continuing its activities, except life insurance.
  • Cross Transactions: 13.0 bn shares of Trust International Islamic Bank (BTRU) on Mar. 3, 2019, which represents 5.2% of BTRU capital.
  • Test results from international laboratories confirm that the death of millions of farmed carp in Iraq in late 2018 was caused by fish disease, not pollution.
  • The carp suffered from the Koi Herpes Virus (KHV), a lethal disease known to cause almost 100 percent mortality rates in carps.
  • Based on these results, we can therefore rule out that chemical contamination played a role in the fish kill, which should reassure the public that the farmed carp is safe to eat.

On 26 October 2018, a major fish kill episode that wiped out millions of mostly caged farmed carp in Iraq’s central Euphrates region sent the country into major panic. Fear spread that the fish kill was caused by a mysterious pollution that could also poison people, whilst fish farmers agonized over their losses as the source of their livelihoods abruptly vanished.

Deeming the fish kill a national security issue, Iraq’s newly appointed Prime Minister, Dr. Adel Abdul Mahdi, immediately assembled a crisis team led by the Ministry of Health and Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture to investigate its causes and take appropriate remedial measures.

“The scale of the fish kill was so huge, we had excavators working for four days clearing the fish from the river,” affirmed Dr. Ala Alwan, Iraq’s Minister of Health and Environment, who personally inspected the situation on the ground once news of the incident broke out. “We also used oil spill booms to contain and prevent the fish from drifting downstream, especially as many fish farmers rashly dumped the dead carp into the Euphrates River,” he added.

Faced with this unprecedented massive fish mortality, the Iraqi Government decided to request emergency technical assistance from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Environment to help determine the cause of the sudden die off.

Fish and environmental samples were collected by the Ministry of Health and Environment based on UN Environment’s advice from the epicentre of the fish kill incident near Al-Musayab, Babel governorate, approximately 70 kilometres south of Baghdad. Since 2011, this area had become a thriving hub for Iraq’s growing fish farming industry where a rapid expansion in the use of floating river cages to grow common carp (Cyprinus carpio) became established. At the same time, “the high density of fish cages almost back-to-back for kilometres, coupled with extreme overstocking, contravened national regulations,” cautioned Minister Alwan.

UN Environment, WHO and FAO rapidly organized for the fish, water, sediment and fish feed samples to be shipped to internationally-accredited laboratories. Comprehensive chemical and microbiological tests were carried out by three different laboratories, including in Switzerland, Jordan and Italy.

For all the samples taken by the Ministry of Health and Environment, test results showed no significant contamination from heavy metals, hydrocarbons or pesticides. “Unlike water, which only gives a snapshot of environmental conditions at a specific point in time, sediment acts as a storage reservoir for contaminants,” explained Dr. John Pote, Head of the Laboratory of Environmental Microbiology at the University of Geneva, who coordinated the laboratory study commissioned by UN Environment.

“Based on these results, we can therefore rule out that chemical contamination played a role in the fish kill, which should reassure the public that the farmed carp is safe to eat,” he added. These conclusions were also shared by Mr. Ahmed El-Olimat, Deputy Head of Quality and Laboratory Affairs in Ministry of Water and Agriculture in Jordan, who coordinated the test of the water samples sent by WHO to Jordan.

DNA tests run by the Swiss National Fish Disease Laboratory and Reference Laboratory for Notifiable Diseases found the presence of the Cyprinid herpesvirus (CyHV-3) in all fish samples examined, confirming Iraqi scientists’ suspicions that the fish kill was caused by a disease outbreak. They had observed white or brown patches on the gills of afflicted fish as critical clinical signs of an infection. Furthermore, the mortality only affected farmed carp and not wild fish. Virologic analysis commissioned by WHO and FAO – in Jordan and Italy respectively – also confirmed the Swiss laboratories’ findings.

“WHO was very concerned about this incident which could have posed a public health risk to communities in Babylon governorate and beyond. However, after confirming that the outbreak is due to a viral infection, WHO is confident that fish consumption has no effect on human health,” confirmed Mr. Mohamed Hamasha, Senior Environmental Health Expert and Mr. Soren Madison, Food Safety Adviser at WHO.

“High loads of Cyprinid herpesvirus DNA in the gill, kidney and brain fish tissue revealed that the carp suffered from the Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) disease,” affirmed Dr. Thomas Wahli, who heads the Swiss Reference Laboratory for Notifiable Diseases. “KHV is a very serious and lethal disease that is known to cause almost 100 percent mortality rates in carps,” he added. The Principal Virologist at the UK’s International Centre of Excellence for Aquatic Animal Health (CEFAS), Dr. Richard Paley, also agreed that “while overstocking and transient water quality issues such as low dissolved oxygen levels may have stressed the fish and helped propagate the virus, given the current information, one can reasonably conclude that the root cause of this mass fish kill episode is KHV disease.”

With Euphrates River water temperature dropping to 23-25°C in November, an optimal environment was created for the CyHV-3 virus, which flourishes between 16-28°C. Reports of similar small-scale fish kill incidents in multiple pockets in western and central Iraq further validated the occurrence of a wider epidemic.

“The outbreak may represent development of the disease in latently infected fish due to stressor events or perhaps more likely, based on the size of the event, introduction of infected animals into naïve stocks with no previous exposure or immune protection, indicating a recent introduction”, reckoned Dr. Paley.

“This is the first case of Koi Herpes Virus disease in Iraq, and it is a significant case report which will need to be notified to the World Organisation for Animal Health,” underlined Minister Alwan.

“We are pleased to have been able to get to the bottom of this difficult case and intend to build on this experience to improve our environmental surveillance and diagnostic capacity, particularly for viral diseases, so that we can properly investigate such events. Meanwhile, we need to control fish farm numbers and raise farmers’ awareness on the appropriate procedures to follow to prevent and rapidly contain similar outbreaks in the future,” he asserted.

(Source: UN Environment Programme)

International Women’s Day was celebrated today at an event organized by the Directorate for the Empowerment of Iraqi Women at the Council of Ministers.

The event, which was supported by UN Women and the International Medical Corps, was attended by senior Iraqi government officials, including the two Deputy Speakers of the Council of Representatives, human rights activists, civil society representatives, the international community and many others.

Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (DSRSG) Alice Walpole (pictured) addressed the meeting, along with Dr. Mahdi Al-Allaq, Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, who represented the Prime Minister; Dr. Thikra Alwash, Mayor of Baghdad and Chair of the Standing Committee on the Advancement of Women; UN Women’s Representative, Ms. Dina Zorba and UNFPA Representative, Dr. Oluremi Sogunro; as well as the Director-General of the Directorate for the Empowerment of Iraqi Women, Dr. Ibtisam Aziz.

In her remarks, DSRSG Walpole welcomed the upcoming discussions in Parliament on updating the Anti-Domestic Violence Law. “We need to acknowledge that domestic violence diminishes and shames all of society; it is a threat not just to women but to society itself,” she emphasised.

Reflecting on the challenges facing displaced women across Iraq, DSRSG Walpole noted that “They continue to suffer the brutal consequences of the recent conflict”.

“Female-headed households should be prioritised in accessing public services,” she said, and called on the Ministries of Defence and Interior, and the National Operations Command, to “to ensure that secure clearance mechanisms are coordinated among security actors to minimize re-screening of individuals already screened; and to consider removing security clearance requirements for civilians who have not been charged with a criminal or terrorism-related offence, so they do not face obstacles in accessing public services, including civil registries and courts”.

DSRSG Walpole also noted the high unemployment rate amongst young women, which is double that of men. She called on the government to “offer small business grants to female entrepreneurs to help them into the business arena, in particular to women returnees in the liberated areas, and those heading households”.

“Advancing women’s economic empowerment in this way will contribute to the government’s efforts to achieve national stability,” she noted

(Source: UN)

By Ahmed Tabaqchali, CIO of Asia Frontier Capital (AFC) Iraq Fund.

Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Iraqi market, as measured by the Rabee Securities RSISUSD Index, declined by -9.7% in February, taking the year to date decline to -12.5%.

February’s decline takes the index below the multi-year lows made in May 2016, for a decline of ­-70% from the multi-year highs of January 2014 to February 2019, versus the -68% decline from the same highs to May 2016. However, the severity of the decline and the immediate triggers are the only things that the two months have in common, while all other indicators, both fundamental and technical, are diametrically opposed.

The immediate trigger for the decline in the last two months was a foreign portfolio liquidation, the same trigger behind that of the period leading into May 2016. However, the similarity ends there, as the current foreign liquidation is that of a relatively small single portfolio vs. the massive multi-month liquidation witnessed then as the chart below demonstrates.

(Source: Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX), Asia Frontier Capital)

The above chart is an index of the absolute level of foreign selling & buying with their respective moving averages, clearly showing the contrast between the two periods (both highlighted in light orange). The main reason for the similarity, in effect of the selling on the index, is due to the extremely low liquidity in the current market- a low level that has been discussed in “Volumes and Reversion to the Mean”.

The average daily turnover per month since late 2014 (chart below) shows the association of low turnover with the index levels. Moderate selling in such an environment of extremely low liquidity exerts a strong downward pressure on prices, which coupled with low prices turns a few price increments into much larger percentage moves. A case in point is Bank of Baghdad (BBOB) which started the month at IQD 0.280 per share. Due to selling it declined to IQD 0.250 by month’s end. This is equal to three price increments (the minimum price increment is IQD 0.010), yet it is a -10.7% decline from 0.280 to 0.250, which in turn accounted for a -1.2% downward move in the index. Another issue of low liquidity is how it affects higher priced stocks, resulting in them trading in much larger price increments, with the end result producing the same percentage change effects as for the lower priced stocks.

(Source: Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX), Rabee Securities, Asia Frontier Capital)

The macro picture between 2016 and now couldn’t be more different. In 2016 Iraq’s economy was being crushed by the double whammy of collapsing government revenues, due to falling oil prices, and the sharply increasing cost of the ISIS war- a war that many international commentators believed marked the end of the Iraqi state. However, the end of the ISIS war cemented Iraq’s integrity and its position as a key player in the Middle East. This is evidenced by the high number of heads of state and high-level official visits to Iraq over the last few months as relationships which were forged during the ISIS-conflict are being developed into future economic relationships.

On the other hand, the economy in 2019 is gradually benefitting from the expansionary effects of the reversal of the forces that crushed it. In particular, the healing effects of higher oil revenues over the last two years is beginning to filter down into the broader economy with the first signs being seen in the recent recovery in broad money, or M2 which acts as a proxy for economic activity, as can be seen in the chart below.

(Source: Central Bank of Iraq, Iraq’s Ministry of Oil, Asia Frontier Capital)

(Note: M2 as of Nov with AFC est.’s for Dec; Oil revenues as of Feb)

The period leading to the May 2016 low witnessed multi-month declines in oil revenues that had a massive negative effect on economic activity as first seen in the stagnation of M2, followed by a decline as manifested in the onset of a severe economic contraction. It was natural then that these effects would negatively impact corporate earnings and ultimately lead to a marked decline.

A mirror image reversal is taking place in 2019 as multi-month increases in oil revenues have revived M2 which points to an economic recovery. The early signs of this is evidenced in the growth of customer deposits (consumers, businesses and government) with banks, which can be seen in the chart below through the growth of the IQD Current Account (C/A) component of banks’ reserves with the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) – the recovery of which accelerated in May 2018, with the latest data as of early February indicating a continuation of this trend.

(Source: Central Bank of Iraq, Asia Frontier Capital)

(Note: M0 as of Jan, IQD C/A component of bank’s reserves as of Jan)

Other signs of economic recovery can be seen from the recent earnings reports of consumer spending related companies such as Pepsi bottler Baghdad Soft Drinks (IBSD) and mobile operator AsiaCell (TASC). Of the two, the data from TASC is promising, as the company is especially leveraged to the economic recovery given the severe hits its profitability took due to the ISIS conflict which were discussed fully in “Telecoms Dial up Recovery

The drag on the economy thus far in 2018 and 2019 has been due to the political paralysis before, during, and after the May 2018 parliamentary elections. This led to a torpidity in government spending, but a silver lining of the government inaction has been the steady growth in the government budget surplus that is estimated to be about USD 24.5 bln in the two years ending in 2018. This paralysis in government spending has finally come to an end with parliament’s approval of the 2019 budget in mid-January.

The 2019 budget’s non-oil investment programme is about USD 12.5 bln, which would be equivalent to about a 7.5% stimulus to the estimated non-oil GDP for 2019. While it is highly unlikely that this would be immediately spent, yet the spending should start with a trickle but grow as investment spending gets underway.

Just as the negative fundamental forces in 2016 were the reason for the market’s decline, their reversal and the early signs of economic recovery should lead to an economic growth which must find its way into corporate earnings’ recovery- which in turn should lead to a rising market. Logically, this ought to mean an end to the market’s divergence from its past close relationship with oil revenues (a proxy for the forces driving the economy) which is currently at the widest it has been for the last few years (see below).

(Source: Iraq’s Ministry of Oil, Rabee Securities, Asia Frontier Capital)

(Note: Oil revenues as of Feb)

In conclusion, the fundamentals seen in the prior charts surely argue that it’s only a matter a time before the liquidity in the broader economy finds its way into the Iraqi equity market, the reigning ugly duckling of frontier markets, to turn it into a swan or at least into a duck that flies.

Please click here to download Ahmed Tabaqchali’s full report in pdf format.

Mr Tabaqchali (@AMTabaqchali) is the CIO of the AFC Iraq Fund, and is an experienced capital markets professional with over 25 years’ experience in US and MENA markets. He is a non-resident Fellow at the Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS) at the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani (AUIS), and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at AUIS. He is a board member of the Credit Bank of Iraq.

His comments, opinions and analyses are personal views and are intended to be for informational purposes and general interest only and should not be construed as individual investment advice or a recommendation or solicitation to buy, sell or hold any fund or security or to adopt any investment strategy. It does not constitute legal or tax or investment advice. The information provided in this material is compiled from sources that are believed to be reliable, but no guarantee is made of its correctness, is rendered as at publication date and may change without notice and it is not intended as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding Iraq, the region, market or investment.

By Alexander Southworth, Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC).

Exploring Tech in Iraq: ‘Hackasuly – Promoting Tech Literacy for a New Generation of Iraqis’

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. In a country which has seen its fair share of weapon misuse over the last few decades Mandela’s quote could not be more relevant in the climate of present-day Iraq.

With a beleaguered state education system and struggling infrastructure, there exists a community within the Tech Sector that is trying to navigate these challenges and promote education of Iraqi youths through the cultivation of digital skills that will help them reach their goals and find meaningful employment.

In the IBBC’s Tech Series: Exploring Tech in Iraq, we speak to some of the innovators and founders of tech organisations making a difference in Iraq.

One such organisation, HackaSuly, is an initiative that aims to promote technology in Sulaimani, Kurdistan and wider Iraq through tech events, hackathons, meetups and to create a network of tech enthusiasts.

We spoke to one of the founders, Hero Mohammed, to find out more about HackaSuly’s events, how they are empowering young Iraqis, the inspiration behind the founding of the organisation and any advice she has to aspiring tech entrepreneurs.

I believe there is a great potential in Iraq for the tech-industry. The people of Iraq are hungry for stability, innovation and facilities after decades of war and conflict” – Hero Mohammed, Founder of HackaSuly

Growing up in Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan, Hero describes her desire to participate in coding challenges and tech events but due to a near complete lack of opportunities, this simply was not possible. In 2015, she helped organise HackaErbil, the first Hackathon in Iraq, which would inspire her to embark on a journey to help others in the community to have the opportunities her peers did not have as college students. Building on the success of that first event, Hero started by organising the first hackathon in Sulaimani with the help of some friends.

So how exactly does HackaSuly help young coders through its events? HackaSuly is trying to help young coders to develop their skills and match them with the existing tech market demands. In the meanwhile, they are encouraged to update themselves with cutting-edge technologies and tools.

Until now, they have had three different types of events.

  1. Meet and code (Co-founded with Razhan Hameed): regular weekly coding meetups for coders and people who are interested in coding to come together, collaborate and share their knowledge and skills.
  2. HackaSuly Hackathon (co-organised with Snur Hamid): an annual hackathon that brings together developers, designers and entrepreneurs to come up with ideas that have a technological implementation, form teams and develop their prototypes over a weekend.
  3. Suli Tech Festival (Co-founded and co-organised with Razhan Hameed in collaboration with five one labs): a day-long tech celebration in Sulaimani. The Festival brought together young innovators and members of the local tech community with leaders and companies in the industry. The goal was to help promote technology, generate more interest in the field, and expand knowledge of career opportunities (from the participant’s side) and potential hires (from the business’ side) in the tech industry in Sulaimani. The Festival contained a number of exciting events over the course of the day, including: a welcome speech by the Deputy Prime Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government, a Coding Challenge, an Intro Workshop to Web Development, a Tech Career Fair and Project Presentations.

While events of this nature may be common in more tech-developed countries, their establishment in Iraq brings many serious challenges. Hero describes how their ideas and events are new to the society in general and the biggest challenge has being delivering their message. Explaining the events and ideas especially when seeking funds and support have been challenging. When they first started with the HackaSuly hackathon, there was significant difficultly making people within the tech industry, even professionals, understand what a hackathon is.

Support has been key to growing the operation, Hero states great support has been forthcoming from local and international NGOs and private sector companies, especially those that are operating within the Iraqi tech industry, many as part of their Social Responsibility programs. More support is necessary to keep momentum growing, especially government contributions.

“I can imagine HackaSuly in 5 years… A large tech community across the country working together to make technology an important sector for the economic development of Kurdistan and Iraq” – Hero Mohammed, Founder of HackaSuly

Inspired by her strong love of coding and tech, Hero is one of the inspiring young innovators that are driving tech literacy and interest in a new generation of Iraqis. By creating a community of tech enthusiasts in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan, HackaSuly is empowering young people to believe in their abilities, learn new skills and create for themselves tech start-ups in Iraq’s fast growing tech Sector.

As Hero states: Access to new technologies can have many benefits for any developing countries. One such benefit is its impact on reducing the costs of production. Other ways technology is helping developing countries is by boosting economies through innovation, SMBs and advanced communication.

IBBC is holding a Tech Conference in Iraq in early 2019, where we aim to bring together the key innovators transforming the digital landscape in the country, explore solutions to better governance and industry reforms using technology and give a platform to young Iraqi entrepreneurs breaking the mould. For more information, and to get involved, please email: London@webuildiraq.org or visit: https://www.iraqbritainbusiness.org/event/tech-conference-in-baghdad.

(Source: IBBC)

Advertising Feature

Rabee Securities Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) market report (week ending: 28th February 2019).

Please click here to download a table of listed companies and their associated ticker codes.

The RSISX index ended the week at IQD577 (-4.6%) / $621 (-4.4%) (weekly change) (-12.5% and -12.5% YTD change, respectively). The number of week traded shares was 2.0 bn and the weekly trading volume was IQD1.3 bn ($1.1 mn).

ISX Company Announcements

  • According to the ISX announcement, the opening price of the IQD5.0 mn class bonds (CB125) will be IQD5,368,219 on Sunday (Mar. 3, 2019). [Table: 2.3]
  • ISX will suspend trading of Al-Mansour Bank (BMNS) starting Mar. 11, 2019 due to the AGM* that will be held on Mar. 14, 2019 to discuss and approve 2018 annual financial results.
  • Commercial Bank of Iraq (BCOI) announced that it will start distributing 3.5% cash dividend (IQD0.035 dividend per share) starting Mar. 3, 2019.
  • AL- Kindi of Veterinary Vaccines (IKLV) announced that it will start distributing 4% cash dividend (IQD0.04 dividend per share) starting Mar. 3, 2019.
  • Middle East Producing & Marketing – Fish (AMEF) announced that it will start distributing 20% cash dividend (IQD0.20 dividend per share) for the year ending Mar. 31, 2017 starting Mar. 3, 2019.
  • ISC sent a letter to North Bank (BNOR), Modern Paint Industries (IMPI), Electronic Industries (IELI), Al-Hilal Industries (IHLI), Iraqi Carton Manufactures (IICM), AL-Badia for General Trans (SBAG) and Iraqi Land Transport (SILT) to ask for the disclosure of requested financial results.
  • ISX sent a letter to United Bank (BUND) to disclose AGM* minutes which was held on Feb. 20, 2019.
  • ISC sent a letter to Union Bank of Iraq (BUOI), Al-Qabedh Islamic Bank (BQAB) and Al-Khair Financial Investment (VKHF) on Feb. 26, 2019 asking the disclosure of their 2016 and 2017 annual financial results because they didn’t reply ISC’s previous letters.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will travel to Iraq on March 11 for an official visit.

Heading a high-ranking delegation, the Iranian president will be visiting the Arab country at the official invitation of Baghdad.

It will be Rouhani’s first official visit to Iraq during his tenure.

On Monday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi met with Prime Minister of Iraq Adil Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad to make arrangements for Rouhani’s forthcoming trip.

The Iranian president’s visit would come against the backdrop of Tehran’s efforts to boost its foreign trade in the US sanctions era.

Iraq’s foreign minister said recently that his country is “not obliged” to abide by sanctions imposed by the US against Iran and would be pursuing options to continue bilateral trade.

President of Iraq Barham Salih paid a visit to Tehran in November 2018 with a ranking delegation for a series of political and economic talks.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart at that time, Rouhani said the value of trade and economic interaction between Tehran and Baghdad stood at around $12 billion, adding that the two neighbors have the potential for a $20-billion trade target.

Earlier this month, governors of the central banks of Iran and Iraq signed an agreement to develop a payment mechanism aimed at facilitating banking ties between the two neighboring countries.

According to governor of the Central Bank of Iran Abdolnaser Hemmati, Iran is going to open euro and dinar-based accounts to process transactions for trade in oil and gas.

Describing Iraq as Iran’s major partner, Hemmati said the two countries have agreed to make the banking ties much stronger.

He also stated that Iraqi companies can reciprocally open accounts in Iranian banks and conduct transactions in dinar.

In December 2018, Chairman of Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce Yahya Ale-Eshaq said the central banks of Iran and Iraq were finalizing negotiations to begin trade in their own currencies.

Iraq’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim has made it clear that his country cannot cut off trade ties with Iran under the US sanctions.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

The National Investment Commission (NIC) and the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) have announced the investment opportunity to build Nasriya International Airport.

The airport is located to the south–west of Imam Ali (PBUH) air force base in Thi Qar province.

The area of the passengers terminal is 3000m².

Interested foreign and local companies can apply by filling the investment licenses available on our website and submit all required documents to our email address info@investpromo.gov.iq within 45 days from the date of announcing this advertisement.

For more information, please contact the Civil Aviation Authority headquarters:

Baghdad International Airport/ third floor

info@icaa.gov.iq

P.O Box: 23006 BIAP

(Source: NIC)

The Iraq Energy Institute (IEI) has issued its 2018 Annual Report, entitled “Riding the Oil Markets, Iraq’s Economy in Transition“.

In its summary, the IEI says:

Iraq’s fortunes are once again highly dependent upon oil prices following a period where the government succeeded in stabilising expenditures, on the basis of IMF conditionality.

“This period was of course accompanied by the 2014-2017 war against the self-declared “Islamic State,” when Iraq was struggling through an existential conflict. During this difficult time, Iraq’s fundamental stability, on virtually every metric, was supported by the success of its energy sector.

“On that basis, 2018 carried good news for Iraq, not only due to rising oil prices. This report outlines some of the areas where oil and gas have truly contributed to energizing Iraq’s economy, looking at increasing gas utilization in southern Iraq, which now carries the real potential to alleviate Iraq’s electricity crisis.

“We examine growing cooperation between the Federal Government and the Kurdish Region of Iraq in the energy sector, which is increasingly based on a firmer legal footing with the passing of the 2019 budget law, which could in theory usher in a new era of Baghdad-Erbil relations.

Please click here to download the full report.

(Source: IEI)

By John Lee.

The National Investment Commission (NIC), along with investment commissions in the provinces, granted 257 investment licenses during 2018.

According to a statement from the NIC, this represents a combined investment of more than 8 billion dollars in the Iraqi economy.

Four of these licenses were issued for strategic projects at a cost of more than 3 billion dollars.

Of the total of 257 licences, 88 were granted directly by the NIC, and these were spread over 12 sectors as follows: Trade sector, 21 investment licences; Entertainment sector, 1 investment licence; Telecommunication sector, 1 investment licence; Education sector, 6 investment licences; Services sector, 4 investment licences; Sport sector, 4 investment licences; Agriculture sector, 3 investment licences; Housing sector, 8 investment licences; Tourism sector, 4 investment licences; Health sector, 6 investment licences; Industrial sector, 16 investment licences, Electricity sector, 14 investment licences (2 for power stations, 12 for charging).

The source pointed out that the number of licenses granted by the investment commissions in the provinces other than the provinces of Kurdistan Region was (169) investment licenses. – 12 investment licenses for Anbar- 66 investment licenses for Baghdad- 10 investment licenses for Holly Karbala- 26 investment licenses for Wasit- 32 investment licenses for Muthana- 15 investment licenses for Kirkuk.

(Source: NIC)