The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, inaugurated its new office In Sulaymaniya [Slemani] under the patronage of the First Lady of Iraq – Ms. Serbagh Saleh; and with the participation of the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ms. Marta Ruedas; FAO Representative a.i. for Iraq Mr. René Verduijn; the Governor of Sulaymaniyah Dr. Hafal Abu Bakr; the Head of the Provincial Council Azad Mohammed Amin; and the Director General of Sulaymaniyah’s Directorate of Agriculture.

The meeting was addressed by the First Lady who thanked FAO for its leading and effective role in combating famine and securing food around the world and in Iraq. She also highlighted the importance of promoting bio-diversity in the region.

Also speaking at the ceremony, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ms. Ruedas, said that, “the inauguration of the new FAO Office symbolizes the interest of the UN to support the people of Sulaymaniya in achieving long-term, sustainable development.”

“It also shows the importance of investing in the Agriculture and Water Sectors, but we should be reminded to also reduce the water pollution the sector generates,” she added.

On his part, the FAO Resident Representative, a.i., Mr. Verduijn, expressed his gratitude to the First Lady for her contribution to promoting bio-diversity, in particular her work as a co-founder of the Kurdistan Botanical Foundation that is committed to establish a gene/ seed bank in Sulaymaniya and her efforts as an activist in defense of women’s rights.

“FAO in Iraq is keen on promoting agriculture to help achieve economic growth, a stable society, food and nutrition security for all and improving bio-diversity. We feel strongly towards supporting Iraq in face of the numerous challenges it faces in terms of agriculture and water through promoting Good Agriculture Practices and improving smallholder farmers’ livelihoods”, said Mr. Verduijn.

The new office comes at a significant moment as the country moves away from emergency towards more development to provide structural support to the sub-sectors, and people’s livelihoods.

The new UN office is located within the Directorate of Agriculture in Sulaymaniyah. In April, FAO celebrated its 40th anniversary of the establishment of FAO in Iraq in 1979. Assistance has targeted a wide range of sub-sectors, including crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry, and has proved to be successful in supporting agricultural research and extension institutes over years of stability, sanctions and conflict. The inauguration of the new office is another landmark in the organization’s efforts to reinforce its technical programs for the benefit of the people of Iraq.

(Source: UN)

(Picture credit: Diyar Muhammed)

DNO ASA, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, has completed the private placement of USD 400 million of new, five-year senior unsecured bonds with a coupon rate of 8.375 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 29 May 2019, 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 buy back USD 60 million in nominal value of DNO01 bonds (ISIN NO 0010740392) at 104.16 percent of par plus accrued interest and USD 10 million in nominal value of FAPE01 bonds originally issued by Faroe Petroleum plc in 2017 (ISIN NO 0010811268) at 107.50 percent of par plus accrued interest.

In addition to partial refinancing of the DNO01 and FAPE01 bonds, net proceeds from the new bond issue will be used for general corporate purposes.

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

(Source: DNO)

(Picture: Bonds, from Alexskopje/Shutterstock)

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraq:

(Source: UN)

(Picture: Finger pressing a new career start button, from Olivier Le Moal/Shutterstock)

By Padraig O’Hannelly.

For much of Iraq’s recent history, the trend has been for educated and talented Iraqis to leave the country, and for Iraq to use its oil revenues to import the expertise it needs.

But that’s changing; to at least some extent, the Iraqi diaspora is returning, innovative home-grown Iraqi businesses are being created, and some are even exporting their goods and services abroad.

One prime example is Arab Payment Services (APS), which I visited on a recent trip to Baghdad. Founded by Ziad Khalaf in 2013, the company now employs 100 people, many of them Iraqis who have returned from overseas with new skills and experience.

The company provides a range of banking-related services, including ATMs, point-of-sale (POS) devices, and payment processing. In this business, proper security is essential. General Manager Haider Alobaidi, who has been with the company from the start, explained:

“Our processes all comply with international standards, such as PCI DSS [Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard] — our reputation depends on flawless execution, so there is no room for error.”

In a country so reliant on cash, is there really a need for such a business? “Most definitely“, says Roger Abhoud, Advisor to the Chairman:

“The demographics are all in our favour. Forty million people, 83 percent of them without bank accounts, increasing by one million people each year — more and more of those people want access to the sorts of services that we can provide, and that trend can only continue. It’s a huge opportunity!”

His vision doesn’t end there. APS has just opened an office in Dubai, and plans to expand internationally.

This is a new and positive phenomenon for Iraq, and one that will provide welcome opportunities in the years ahead.

By John Lee.

Standard Chartered bank is reportedly reviving stalled plans to open a new branch for corporate customers in Basra in the first half of 2020.

This would be the UK-based bank’s third branch in Iraq.

Its Iraq CEO Mohammed Jawad Al-Delaimy told Bloomberg:

“Security in Iraq has improved dramatically … We have witnessed international companies decreasing their security requirements and risk levels.”

He added that profits in Iraq have been increasing since 2014, and said the bank plans to sign financing deals worth about $500 million for electricity projects by early next year.

More here.

(Source: Bloomberg)