By John Lee.

On Sunday, Iraq and Jordan reportedly signed a contract to connect their electricity networks and sell electrical energy between the two countries.

According to INA, the deal will see Jordan providing Iraq with 1000 gigawatt hours per year as a first stage.

The 300-km line will connect the new Risha substation, currently under construction in Jordan, to the al-Qaim substation in Iraq, with a length of about 300 km, with work to be completed within 26 months.

(Source: INA)

The post Iraq, Jordan to Connect Electrical Networks first appeared on Iraq Business News.

New Survey of Small and Medium Enterprises Offers Insight into State of Iraq’s Economy During COVID-19 Pandemic

Measures taken to curb the spread of COVID-19 have led to reduced operating hours or the closure of many of Iraq’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The economic impact of the pandemic is expected to be severe.

To measure the losses and investigate how SMEs are coping with movement restrictions, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the International Trade Center (ITC) launched a panel study of 893 enterprises in 15 governorates across Iraq.

The first round of data collection took place from 22 June to 7 July 2020 and focused on 16 economic sectors. Results show that the pandemic has heavily impacted businesses’ ability to retain employees.

There was an average reduction of 27 per cent in full-time employment from February, before lockdown measures were implemented, to June. The pandemic also resulted in an increase 30 percentage points in the employment gender gap; in February, the ratio of women to men with jobs was on average 1 to 13, which increased in June to 1 to 17.

The COVID-19 crisis has negatively impacted SME production levels in Iraq, with an average decline of 67 per cent across all sectors. All governorates were similarly impacted; no governorate saw a decline in production of less than 50 per cent.

SMEs also faced a 65 per cent decrease in monthly revenue on average. Eighty-six per cent of SMEs surveyed temporarily shut down in order to cope with the economic hardship of COVID-19, and 63 per cent report they are at risk of shutting down permanently.

To cope with the economic impact of the pandemic, between February and June SMEs employed strategies such as: temporarily reducing employment, including not paying salaries to employees (34%), requesting leniency in paying financial responsibilities (25%), and sending employees home with a reduced salary (15%).

SMEs report the most helpful form of government support to help cope with the impact of COVID-19 would be to reduce lockdown measures for some sectors (68%), provide rent subsidies (57%), and support self-employed individuals (45%).

The report provides further insight into the effect of border closures on SMEs, their ability to purchase inputs or sell outputs, and recommendations for public policies to help SMEs stay afloat. Wage subsidies and temporary tax suspensions would allow SMEs to retain employees and reduce job loss. Incentivizing technological solutions – for example by building the SMEs’ capacity for digital literacy – could transform the marketplace and allow firms to continue to with sales.

Increasing work from home provisions can also keep workers safe by reducing their exposure to COVID-19. Tracking the impact of the pandemic on businesses can help identify urgent needs; responding with targeted, timely funding can help SMEs stay afloat.

Two more survey rounds with the same 893 businesses will take place in September and December 2020 to continue monitoring and analyzing the impact of COVID-19 crisis on production, labor, revenues and access to inputs, as well as the actions of SMEs in this context. This data will help illuminate the challenges faced by SME owners, and determine tools that can be developed to help them weather the COVID-19 crisis.

The study was funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) and the European Union.

For more information please contact IOM Iraq’s Public Information Unit, Tel: +964 751 402 2811, Email: iraqpublicinfo@iom.int

(Source: UN)

The post New Survey of Iraqi SMEs during COVID-19 first appeared on Iraq Business News.

By John Lee.

Genel Energy has successfully completed the issuance of a new $300 million senior unsecured bond with maturity in October 2025.

The new bond will have a fixed coupon of 9.25% per annum. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and settlement is expected to occur on or about 14 October 2020.

In connection with the issue, the Company has agreed to repurchase $223 million of its existing $300 million senior unsecured bond issue with ISIN NO 001071088.2 and maturity date in December 2022 (‘GENEL01 PRO’).

Genel has the option to call the outstanding bond amount in December 2020 at a price equal to 105% of the nominal amount.

Pareto Securities acted as bookrunner and manager for the bond issue.

(Source: Genel Energy)

The post Genel Energy issues New 0m Bond first appeared on Iraq Business News.

By Michael Knights, for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Pushing Back on Iraqi Militias: Weighing U.S. Options

Although halting the escalation of militia attacks on American personnel is crucial, simply evacuating the Baghdad embassy and downscaling the bilateral relationship would allow Iran to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

On September 20, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly warned the Iraqi government that unchecked militia attacks could spur the United States to shutter its embassy and launch powerful strikes on Iran-backed militia leaders.

Since then, Iraqi officials and even some militia figures have scrambled to placate Washington, with various armed groups publicly distancing themselves from attacks on diplomatic facilities.

At the same time, however, the warning shocked an embattled Iraqi government that had served up some powerful blows against Iranian proxies in recent weeks, including the September 17 arrest of suspected militia financier Bahaa Abdul-Hussein, who controls a multi-billion-dollar e-payment service.

Click here to read the full article.

The post Pushing Back on Iraqi Militias: Weighing U.S. Options first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has ordered the formation of a committee tasked to build a nuclear reactor for research purposes, the Iraqi Radioactive Sources Regulatory Authority (IRSRA) revealed.

Speaking to the Iraqi News Agency, the head of the IRSRA, Hussein Latif, said that Al-Kadhimi is “aware of the importance of the issue of atomic energy”, following discussions held with French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday. Al-Kadhimi is scheduled to visit France next month, as part of a European tour.

Latif added that Iraq is “looking forward to restoring its position in nuclear science, which it occupied in the 1970s and 1980s”, highlighting a recent resolution by the UN Security Council in support of Iraq’s renewed peaceful aspirations in the nuclear field.

The reactors will be able to help produce medical isotopes and pharmaceuticals, in addition to having agricultural and industrial applications such as seed irradiation, nuclear insect sterilisation for pest control, and production of radioactive isotopes with various industrial benefits, Latif explained.

The nuclear plant, which by estimates could take five years to construct, could also help solve Iraq’s electrical shortages, which in recent months have caused mass public outcry.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

The post Iraq Plans to Build Nuclear Reactor for Research Purposes first appeared on Iraq Business News.

The foreign ministers of Iran and Iraq held a meeting in Tehran to discuss a broad range of political and regional issues, including plans to broaden relations between the two Muslim neighbors.

In the Saturday meeting with his Iraqi counterpart in Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed Tehran’s backing for the political trend in, and sovereignty of Iraq, saying the Arab country’s security is important for the Islamic Republic.

Zarif touched upon the attacks carried out against Iranian diplomatic sites and highlighted the necessity of guaranteeing the dignity and security of Iranian diplomats in Iraq.

He also condemned any assaults on diplomatic places and denounced any such attacks as unacceptable. Zarif said such attacks must be stopped.

He¬†referred to the United States’ assassination of top Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, calling on the Iraqi government to discharge its responsibility in that regard.

The Iraqi foreign minister, in turn, underscored the strategic importance of Tehran-Baghdad ties.

He said the two sides enjoy age-old relations and a common geography as well as common economic and political interests, the Iranian government’s website reported.

He said Iraq will not allow its soil to be used for threatening neighboring countries.

As agreed in the meeting, an Iraqi technical team will travel to Iran in the coming two weeks to implement mutual agreements, including those on dredging the border river of Arvand Rud.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

The post Foreign Ministers Weigh Plans to Boost Iran-Iraq Ties first appeared on Iraq Business News.

By Belkis Wille, for Just Security. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

How to answer Iraq’s Failure to put a Stop to Torture

My heart sank as my colleague told me recently about the latest torture victim from Iraq who had contacted us to share his story.

I had heard the same kinds of accounts from other victims of torture in detention, including the same names of two lieutenants and a major who he said had supervised and participated in torturing him and others.

Click here to read the full story.

The post Iraq’s Failure to put a Stop to Torture first appeared on Iraq Business News.

From Middle East Monitor, under a Creative Commons licence. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture yesterday banned the import of 29 agricultural crops and animal products due to their abundance in the local markets.

The list of banned products includes cucumbers, eggplant (aubergine), honey, garlic, dates, tomatoes, as well as eggs, chicken and frozen and chilled marine and river fish.

The ministry explained that the order is based on the Economic Affairs Committee’s decision to ban the import of the aforementioned products from all border crossings, regardless of the import permit’s date.

The post Iraq Bans Import of 29 Agricultural, Animal Products first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Advertising Feature

Rabee Securities Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) market report (week ending: 25th Sept 2020).

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

The RSISX index ended the week at IQD658 (-2.2%) / $689 (-2.2%) (weekly change) (-0.1% and -1.7% YTD change, respectively). The number of week traded shares was 25.0 bn and the weekly trading volume was IQD24.1 bn ($19.4 mn).

ISX Company Announcements

  • ISX will suspend trading of Al-Ahlyia for Agricultural Production (AAHP) starting Oct. 14, 2020 due to the AGM that will be held on Oct. 19, 2020 to discuss and approve the results of the ending year Mar. 31, 2020, distributing cash dividends, the possibility to purchase an agricultural land, and electing five original and five alternative board members.
  • ISX will suspend trading of Al-Khazer for Construction Materials (IKHC) starting on Oct. 6, 2020 due to the AGM that will be held on Oct. 10, 2020 to discuss and approve 2019 annual financial statements and distributing cash dividend.
  • ISX will suspend trading of Gulf Insurance and Reinsurance (NGIR) starting Oct. 1, 2020 due to the AGM that will be held on Oct. 6, 2020 to discuss and approve 2019 annual financial statements, distributing cash dividend and increasing its capital from IQD2.0 bn to IQD7.0 bn through 250% rights issue.
  • ISX will suspend trading of Al Taif Islamic Bank for Investment & Finance (BTIB) starting Sep. 27, 2020 due to the AGM that will be held on Sep. 30, 2020 to discuss and approve 2019 annual financial statements, distributing cash dividend and increasing its capital from IQD100.207 bn to IQD150 bn through 49.7% rights issue.
  • The AGM of Modern Sewing (IMOS), which was planning to be held on Sep. 22, 2020, has been postponed due to lack of quorum.
  • ISX suspended trading of National Company for Tourism Investment (HNTI) starting Sep. 24, 2020 due to the GA that will be held on Sep. 29, 2020 to discuss appointing an inspection committee based on articles 140 – 134 of the Companies Law.
  • ISX suspended trading of Al Mustashar Islamic Bank for Invest. & Finance (BMUI) starting Sep. 23, 2020 due to the AGM that will be held on Sep. 28, 2020 to discuss and approve 2019 annual financial statements.
  • In its AGM held on Sep. 21, 2020, Ashur International Bank for Investment (BASH) decided to distribute IQD0.02 dividend per share (6.3% dividend yield); however, the CBI objected that decision in the meeting because the bank hasn’t recorded provisions by applying IFRS 9, yet. The company said even if the dividend distribution decision will take place in AGM minutes, they will remove it from AGM decisions if CBI objects the decision while auditing the decisions.
  • Cross transactions: 18.9 bn shares of Rajih Islamic Bank for Investment & Finance (BRAJ) on Sep. 21, 22 and 23, 2020, which represent 7.6% of BRAJ’s capital.

The post Iraq Stock Market Report first appeared on Iraq Business News.

From Rudaw. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Baghdad ruling deals blow to Kurdistan Region’s gold trade

The Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority‘s decision to ban the import and export of gold to and from the Kurdistan Region last month has triggered anger among goldsmiths and government officials.

According to a copy of the decision seen by Rudaw English, the import and export of gold is now only authorized at Baghdad and Najaf airports.

Click here to read the full story.

The post Baghdad ruling deals Blow to Kurdistan’s Gold Trade first appeared on Iraq Business News.