The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) took a significant group of members on a trade mission to KRI this week. Paramount was the need to review business opportunities and investment in the region and to learn directly from the Prime Minister Barzani his plans for business and industry.

The group, led by Baroness Nicholson, UK Trade Envoy to Iraq, Christophe Michels MD of IBBC and Eng Rasmi Al Jabri, Deputy Chairman of IBBC included representatives from Jaguar LandRover, Crescent Petroleum, EY, Siemens, Sardar Trading Agency, Garda World, Stirling Education, KPMG, G4S, OilServ Kuwait, and from the DIT Mr Rawand Askary, and James Thornton of UK FCO.

The Prime Minister introduced a number of Ministers for discussion with the group, including KRI Minister of Electricity Mr Kamal Mohammad Saleh discussing project finance and other related matters. The DG of the KRIs MoI joint crisis coordination centre Mr Hoshang Mohamed discussed the clearance of IEDs & mines and the handling of the overall IDP and refugee crisis (that G4S have been heavily engaged with).

In conversation, Mr Barzani stated that ‘the KRI government will bring in reforms to cut down on red tape for the private sector to develop. It will pursue a policy of registering companies through a ‘one window’ online portal which should allow company registrations to be done in the same time it takes in western countries to do so. He also said that the new administration is streamlining overall bureaucracy for private businesses to limit unnecessary Government interference.

The Government is also planning to draft a new bribery law to fight corruption and is looking at reviewing its financial framework to encourage PPPs throughout the economy including education and health. Diversification of the economy is big on the agenda with agriculture, tourism and the manufacturing of goods being a priority. KRI should import less and produce more and eventually find markets outside its borders for its products. Foreign partners for all of this are sought after.’

A permanent revenue sharing agreement with Baghdad is top of the agenda among other things to allow credit export agencies to work directly in the KRIG.’

On Sunday the Planning Minister and Mr Amanj Raheem, Cabinet Secretary, Kurdistan Regional Government spoke, and the Ministers for Construction and Electricity attended the British Consulate Reception taking place at the JLR show room kindly sponsored by Sadar Trading Agencies – thanks to Mr Sardar Al-Bebany Chairman and CEO. Dr Dara Al Khayat, Chairman of KRI federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Erbil, hosted a Monday evening event and on Tuesday the mission visited Crescent Petroleum offices.

The trip continued to Baghdad

(Source: IBBC)

From Peace to prosperity:

The Conference to find out what’s happening for Iraq business.

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) Autumn Conference in Dubai on December 8th is set against a backdrop of relative peace and security in Iraq, and the prospect of oil revenues surging through the economy is driving a wider range of business opportunities and a prospective 8% increase in GDP.

Peace is enabling the economy to diversify through the revenues that pay for a range of infrastructure projects. So this Autumn we are focusing on a range of sectors set to benefit from a stable Iraq: namely, Water, Transport and Logistics, Energy and Tech.

The recent protests have also spurred on Government reforms and incentives to drive employment, entrepreneurship and service diversity, and increase the volume of opportunity that lies ahead and the prospects for not just business-to-business but also a burgeoning consumer market.

The Iraqi Electricity Minister will likely be speaking about his reforms to open up the market to SME’s, training and new players. Other ministers including those from Construction and Transport are attending.

The recent announcement of a 10year tax-free period for SMEs in Iraq will also stimulate the Tech entrepreneur market and drive the uptake of engineering skills.

At this conference, we will discuss big-picture economics with Professor Frank Gunter (Lehigh University), Ahmed Tabaqchali (AFC Iraq Fund), and Simon Penny (UK Trade & Investment), who will address the economic backdrop in the Middle East, and the context for Iraq in particular.

The World Bank and Wood Plc will cover the water sector, while Rolls Royce, Basra Gateway Terminal (BGT), and Menzies will look at transport and logistics, and Iraq’s Electricity Minister, GE, Siemens and Enka will focus on energy.

Alongside the conference our Tech Forum brings experts on HealthTech and Educational Tech, including speakers from GE, Siemens Healthcare, KPMG, EY, Google and the British Council, among others.

While key opportunities will be outlined, the real opportunity for business is to meet the people directly involved in contracts and supply-chain opportunities. This is the place to do business, to network and to find out what’s happening in the Middle East’s most potentially dynamic market that is Iraq.

For further information and to find the latest updates on speakers – more are expected – please contact  london@webuildiraq.org or visit the website to register for tickets.

https://iraqbritainbusiness.org/event/autumn-conference-at-the-address-hotel-dubai

The year it’s all on the up…

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) held Iraq’s first International Tech Conference in Baghdad at the Babylon Rotana Baghdad Hotel on 30 April, hosting government ministers, private industry, entrepreneurs, investors, and representatives from the leading UK and Iraq Tech companies.

The purpose of the Conference was to drive confidence, investment and awareness of the power of the new tech economy and how it can benefit Iraq.

The event – Iraq Tech Conference – was led by Ashley Goodall, IBBC’s Marketing Adviser. Keynote addresses were given by H.E. Dr Sami Al Araji, Chairman of the National Investment Commission and Mr Ashraf Al Dahan, Chairman of the CMC Board of Commissioners.

The agenda for the day comprised four panels: Consumer Tech panel, E-Government Panel, Business Fintech and a Consumer Fintech Panel.

Fintech in particular is making strides forward with the blessing of the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), as Mr Waleed Eidi, Advisor to the Governor of the Central Bank, explained and encouraged the adoption of steps to include Women, those excluded from banking and the digital economy and young people.

The CBI is being ambitious in encouraging banks and financial institutions to modernise and offer new ways to distribute the flow of funds for investment and those who need it. This will also have a big impact on the overall economy and growth.

Ahmed Elkady of EY echoed the importance of Fintech as he led the Consumer FinTech Panel discussion onto technical infrastructure and what needs to happen to grow the opportunity for financial transactions. He was ably supported by National Bank of Iraq’s Eyad Mahmoud and Roger Abboud of Arab Payment Systems – who are modernising banking transactions – and Douglas Way of Almaseer Insurance – who are enabling business to reduce risks and transact insurance products rapidly and scalably.

The conference also embodied eight presentations:

  • “How technology is driving the business and consumer world in Iraq and Internationally” by Zain Iraq;
  • Online Literacy” by Dr Victoria Lindsay, Country Director – Iraq for the British Council;
  • Automating & digitising BP and Iraq” by Zaid Elyaseri, Country Manager-Iraq for BP;
  • Restrata Product Announcement” by Botan Osman, CEO for Restrata;
  • “Five One Labs” by Patricia Letayf, Co-Founder and Director of Operations for Five One Labs;
  • Blockchain and AI – The Future Talk” by Muhana Almrahleh, Director – Head of Information Technology Advisory for KPMG (Jordan); and,
  • How Re:Coded are Training the Next Generation of Technology Leaders in Iraq” by Zahra Shah, Country Manager-Iraq for Re:Coded.

Attendees were able to enjoy one-to-one meetings and conversations.

As part of the Tech Conference on April 30, IBBC hosted an Evening Reception for Entrepreneurs and Start-ups at The Station, Baghdad, the evening prior on 29 April. The evening, planned in partnership with Iraq Tech Ventures and Arabnet, showcased the growing tech community in the country and gave an outstanding platform for some of the leading start-ups and entrepreneurs in a more informal setting.

The participating start-ups pitched their business in 5 minutes to a panel of seven judges composed by: Mohammed Khudairi, Managing Partner of Khudairi Group and Founder of Iraq Tech Ventures; Hal Miran, CEO of MSelect and Founder of Bite.Tech and TechHub; Richard Greer, Venture Capital Investor in Asia, Middle East, & UK and Philanthropist in Northern Iraq; Zahra Shah, Iraq Country Manager for Re:Coded; Ali Ismail, Co-Founder of Fikraspace and Co-Founder & Partner of Solo Creative Studio; Patricia Letayf, Co-Founder and Director of Operations for Five One Labs and Maryam Allami, Advisor for Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

Through this first international Tech Conference in Iraq, IBBC aims to provide a foundation, a platform and focus for Tech in Iraq and give inspiration and confidence to those building a modern Iraq.

For more information on the Iraq Britain Business Council, visit our website at https://www.iraqbritainbusiness.org/

To contact IBBC for Interviews, registration and sponsorship please contact london@webuildiraq.org

(Source: IBBC)

Iraq Britain Business Council completes productive trade mission to Baghdad

IBBC recently completed a productive mission to Baghdad, meeting with high-level government officials and British authorities in Iraq. Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, President of IBBC and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq led the delegation alongside Mr Rasmi Al Jabri, Deputy Chairman of IBBC, Mr Christophe Michels, Managing Director of IBBC and Mr Vikas Handa, IBBC representative in the GCC.

IBBC was joined by numerous member representatives, including from Al Bilal Group, Al Burhan Group, Al-Nukhba OFS, ARCHS, Constellis, Dar Group, EY, Gulftainer, G4S, Khudairi Group, International Islamic Bank, Kuwait Energy, Management Partners, Menzies Aviation, Mosul University, National Bank of Iraq, Ratba’a Contracting, Serco, Shell, Standard Chartered Bank and Turnkey LLC.

The delegation visited soon after the election of President Dr Barham Salih, who took time out of his busy schedule to meet Baroness Nicholson and the IBBC leadership who were joined by HMA Jon Wilks. Dr Salih has been a close friend of the IBBC for many years and recently spoke at the IBBC Cumberland Lodge Conference in July.

On Sunday 7 October the delegation held meetings with the Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, Mr Ali Mohsen Ismael Al Alaq, H.E. Mr Adbuallah Luabea the Deputy Minister of Transport, Mr Fayadh Neema, Senior Deputy Minister of Oil and Dr Sami Al Araji, Chairman of the National Investment Commission. The delegation were hosted by the Iraqi Federation of Chambers of Commerce in the evening for dinner.

On Monday the delegation met with Dr Mehdi Al Alak, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, Dr Hameed Ahmed Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Dr Sabah Mushatat, Economic & Investment Advisor to the Prime Minister of Iraq, Dr Mudher Mohammed Saleh, Finance Advisor to the Prime Minister of Iraq and with Ján Kubiš Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq.  In the evening Ambassador Jon Wilks hosted a reception for the delegation and Iraqi dignitaries at his residency.

Before leaving Iraq, Christophe Michels visited Serco, who are working with the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority at Baghdad International Airport. Serco supports the Iraqi authorities in managing the entire spectrum of air traffic control in Iraq including the increasing number of international overflights.

(Source: IBBC)

By Ashley Goodall.

Back to the future.  The restoration of Iraq and British expertise.

Iraq has been in the news for a generation and our perceptions have been coloured by conflict and the near destruction of the Middle East’s most wealthy and civilised country. In the 1970’s Iraq was not only a secular and relatively harmonious multi-cultural society, but highly educated, enormously wealthy and a centre for cultural tourism.

While the media is focussed on the awful impact of IS, and the conflict in Mosul is still raging, it’s fair to say large swathes of the country, especially the South, have been free from conflict and are relatively peaceful. Indeed, the conduct and effectiveness of the Iraqi army has given hope to a peaceful aftermath in Mosul and Anbar province, with prospects for an end to IS and reconciliation with the Sunni groups in the west.

Today, similar conditions exist for a return to that wealth and civilisation- as the country comes together, Daesh are being seen off, the oil price is rising, the IMF and ISF are loaning the country $14bn for infrastructure, and educated expat entrepreneurs are beginning to return home with investment and know how.

Now that the UK is going global we should consider Iraq a strong business opportunity. Iraq is open for Investment, from the most basic Infrastructure: roads, rail, ports, airports and water, to new private housing, schools and universities, with Iraq’s abundant energy, oil, gas and petrochemical industries, to professional services and cultural tourism. Iraq is effectively virgin territory for investors, construction and professional and telco and cultural tourism services alike – in fact, all the things the UK excels in.

The picture for British industry is even stronger when we recognise British companies already play a leading role in the business ecology: Shell and BP are key players in the economy and offer an umbrella for British engineering companies; Eversheds, EY and PWC provide legal and accountancy services to our companies and Standard Chartered are there to service our finances.

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) with its long term and trusted relationships in senior government circles can also guide and assist members on political issues and through its extended membership there is a wealth of knowledge to assist new members in doing business in Iraq.

Tawfiq Tabbaa, Managing Partner of Eversheds Iraq, has seen a 25 percent increase in business, and the prospects of acceleration as international business moves back to Iraq, including a budegoning tech sector and a requirement for professional services to service international and local companies.

Alistair Kett, a Partner at PWC, observes:

“To the casual observer, any headlines relating to Iraq will be dominated by the ongoing defeat of Daesh and the associated albeit complex security picture. A closer look, however, reveals a country that has started a huge transformation. With significant financing available for huge infrastructure projects and many recognised organisations already embedded in their design and delivery the economic and commercial potential of this market is clearly shifting quickly.”

Mohammed Al Charchafchi, Chairman of Zain Iraq, indicates that:

The Iraqi economy is recovering and is projected to grow at 7 percent in the next few years, one of the highest growth rates in the world, this also applies on the GDP per capita and the contribution of non-oil revenue to the GDP of the country. The growth is mainly driven by the increased production of oil, inflow of FDI, structural reforms by the government and implementation of the IMF terms.

And IBBC new member GE has recently won a $1.4-billion contract to build new electric power stations. Frederic Ribieras, VP Global Growth says:

“GE just signed several new contracts worth a total of $1.4 billion with the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity to add a further 2,000 MW via gas turbines, that drastically increases supply to Iraq’s grid. Thanks to GE’s global reach and relationships with various financing institutions and export credit agencies, GE also has been able to set up some $2 billion in credit to support the projects. This will enable the Iraqi government to improve its power supply without short-circuiting its finances.”

As if that is not bright enough the Chinese intend to bring the New Silk road (OBOR) and its investment train through northern Iraq to provide access to China and the West, for Iraq’s petrochemical industries. And the Iraqis are surprisingly loyal to the UK.

So we see an immediate future where Iraq begins to re-take its place in the league of wealthier nations, keen to expand consumer and professional services, fuelled by oil and petrochemical wealth and servicing an educated and capable population with a government willing to reform and invest.

It’s time to go back to the future and back to Iraq with British expertise and investment.

Ashley Goodall is a consultant at the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC).

More than 180 expert speakers and delegates from the UK, Iraq, UAE and abroad gathered in Dubai at The Address Dubai Marina on Sunday 18 December for the Iraq Britain Business Council’s (IBBC) Autumn Conference.

Usually held in London, the well-attended conference marked the first time the IBBC has held an event in the UAE, a hub for global and regional companies that operate in the Middle East.

The decision to move the Autumn Conference to Dubai has certainly proven to be a good one, with the new location attracting a new audience of business leaders and decision makers based in the region.

A record number of delegates from non-member companies registered for the event, including representatives from Mitsubishi, Serco, Rolls-Royce, Capital Bank of Jordan and LUKOIL.

They were joined by representatives from IBBC member companies, such as Shell, ExxonMobil, Siemens, GE, Amec Foster Wheeler, GardaWorld, Restrata, Eversheds and more.

The conference was supported by H.E. Mr Kadhim Finjan Al-Hamami, Iraq’s Minister of Transport, and Mr Frank Baker OBE, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Iraq, who jointly opened the event with IBBC President Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne.

The theme of the conference was ‘Doing Business in Iraq’. Delegates heard from Ariel Flores, General Manager of BP (Rumaila Operating Organisation), on operating Rumaila in a $50-barrel world during the first session, ‘The Iraq Oil and Gas Sector in 2016’. He focused particularly on how investing in technology, training and safety is key to Rumaila’s operations.

Meanwhile, Marwa Al Nasaa, the International Monetary Fund’s Resident Representative for Iraq delivered an overview of the IMF’s Stand-By Arrangement (SBA), economic developments under the SBA and a forecast of what’s to come.

Other headlining speakers included Dennis Flannery of Citibank, Dr Jafar Dhia Jafar of URUK Engineering and Contracting Company LLC., Zeeshan Sheikh of the International Finance Corporation, Salem Jawad Chalabi of Stephenson Horwood Middle East LLP and Jorge Vila of Iraq Middle Market Development Foundation (IMMDF), who addressed the audience from Paris via a Skype link-up.

IBBC members also joined panel discussions. Asrar Abdulhussein Mohammed of International Islamic Bank participated in the finance session, while Iain Rawlinson of Gulftainer and Peter Turner of SKA International shared their insights on opportunities in Iraq for investment and partnership within the transport and logistics sectors.

Amar Shubar of Management Partners, Gavin Rennie of EY, Afif Masri of PwC and Vikas Handa of Beas LLC (formerly of Weir Group) chaired the panels on finance, power, opportunities in the private sector and O&G respectively.

he IBBC Autumn Conference was generously sponsored by the Islamic International Bank, Gulftainer, Weir Group, SKA International and the IMMDF.

The IBBC’s next conference will take place at Mansion House, London, on Monday 3 April 2017. More information will be available in due course.

For information on the IBBC Autumn Conference, membership or conference sponsorship opportunities, contact the IBBC London team at london@webuildiraq.org or +44 20 7222 7100 or our UAE Representative Samer Al-Omari at samer.alomari@webuildiraq.org or +971552088000.

(Source: IBBC)

The Kurdistan Regional Government signed an agreement with the multinational professional services firm, EY (Ernst & Young), to audit oil and gas processes in the Kurdistan Region.

During the signing ceremony on Wednesday, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani described the agreement as an important step by the Kurdistan Regional Government to be more transparent in the oil and gas revenues and expenditures.

He said that the agreement will further strengthen the transparent and independent auditing process for oil and gas sector. He added that transparency in the sector is his government’s top priority.

This is the second oil-audit agreement that the KRG has signed with major international auditing firms.  Earlier this year, the KRG signed a similar deal with Deloitte.

Senior government officials and the Head of British Consulate-General in the Kurdistan Region participated in the signing ceremony, which took place at the Council of Ministers in Erbil.

(Source: KRG)

The financial losses being made by Iraq’s state owned enterprises are “not acceptable” and the Government is pushing through new legislation to prioritise the growth of the private sector, the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff told a high-level business conference in Baghdad last week.

Speaking at the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) event in the Iraqi Capital, Dr Mehdi Al Alak said the move was vital for the country.

We are trying to move away from theories and bring a more practical approach to encourage and grow the private sector. This needs some legislation to be abolished and new laws to be created, but it is now a priority for my government and it cannot be delayed,” explained Mr Alak.

The man charged by the government with helping push through the reforms, Dr Hussein Anbaki, said they were now examining 176 state owned enterprises to see how they could be transferred from state control to private enterprise.

Dr Anbaki, the Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee, told the audience of senior Iraqi and UK business leaders that the government would no longer allow public enterprises to continue to operate if they are losing money.

“As well as making a profit, they must create jobs. To do this there will be certain challenges, for example the lack and regularity of power supply, infrastructure, and bureaucracy. The boards of these organisations should be in charge, but unfortunately we see the ministries in control which makes the whole thing more bureaucratic,” explained Dr Anbaki.

Bishr Baker, the managing partner for E&Y in Jordan and Iraq, said since 2003 publicly-owned companies in Iraq had taken $11 billion of government money but had made no profit.

Over-employment in these companies ranges from 30% to 50% so you can imagine that when they come to be transferred into private ownership this will cause social issues with unemployment. They will need state benefits and training to find new jobs. It will be very difficult but the government must provide an essential safety net,” added Mr Baker.

Standard Chartered’s acting CEO in Iraq, Mohammed Al Delaimy, explained to the conference the steps needed to change a state-driven economy to the private sector. It was imperative to have the proper legislation in place for both the government and the private institutions – this was to protect the local product and also consumer rights.

Mr Delaimy said a full review of business practices was also necessary. “We need to ask ourselves if we have the right infrastructure. Do we have an adequate pool for skills and talented people? This is helpful for deciding why and when the next industry is privatised. We can also find out what kind of human resources are needed,” he explained.

Later in the day, the former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister, now Minister for Higher Education, Dr Hussain Al Shahristani, called for British Universities and other international educational institutions to open branches in Iraq.

We have 651,000 students currently studying for degrees, 42% of which are women. We have 40,000 instructors and teachers. 17.3% of students are aged between 18 and 23 and we’d like to increase this to 25% but unfortunately the lack of capacity of our universities hinders this position,” Dr Shahristani pointed out.

We have the funds – around $3000 for each student – which can’t compare to Europe or the States but I believe are amongst the highest in the Middle East. We want more connection between universities in the UK and abroad and perhaps they would take into consideration opening branches here in Iraq? Under the former regime this was not possible, but we have now sent a draft law to Parliament to enable this to happen,” he added.

The European Union’s Ambassador to Iraq, Jana Hybaskova, said they had decided to invest in Iraq, not because it was rich in oil and gas, but rich in its people and its population.

Ms Hybaskova said the EU was spending six million Euros to help provide technical support for Iraqi educational establishments. Through UNESCO they were also investing a further 12 million Euros in reforming vocational training. “We want to enhance the skills of the Iraqi people, not only to combat terrorism, but to use computers, mobile phones, to learn about modern technology based on the needs of the private sector.

The IBBC Executive Chairman, Baroness Nicholson, reaffirmed the organisation’s strong support for developing the educational sector in Iraq. She suggested IBBC member companies could play a big role in developing the country’s educational requirements.

“Iraq needs to expand its colleges and universities and to develop apprenticeship schemes. Maybe that would be the way IBBC companies could help the most? All run training schemes of their own and I believe there is a huge amount they could and would do.”

The Baroness thanked the Iraqi Federation of Chambers of Commerce and the National Investment Commission (NIC) for co-hosting the event. She particularly praised the Baghdad Chamber for their invaluable support. She said the organisation had done “an incredible” job to bring the cream of Iraqi and UK business together with leading politicians for the conference.

A spokesman for the Baghdad Chamber of Commerce said today: “We were determined to make this event very special and we are proud to say that it was. We had two days of incredible constructive debate which will benefit not only Iraqi and international business but the Iraqi people as well.

(Source: IBBC)