By John Lee.

The Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) has announced that it has banned all Boeing 737 MAX planes from its airspace.

The move follows the crash of a 737 MAX in Ethiopia on Sunday, which killed 157 people, and another disaster involving that model of aircraft in Indonesia five months ago, which killed 189 people.

(Source: ICAA)

By Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraqi officials stress need to boost Arab ties while balancing relations with Iran

The Iraqi city of Sulaimaniyah hosted the sixth-annual Sulaimaniyah Forum on March 6-7, where discussions focused on Iraq’s strategic significance in the region. During the forum, Iraqi officials and their Arab counterparts called for Iraq to re-embrace strong ties with its Arab neighbors and strike a balance in its ties with Iran.

This year’s forum was held under the motto “Iraq and Its Neighbors: Toward a New Regional Order.

Iraqi President Barham Salih (pictured) said on the first day of the forum that Iraq is striving to bring together different viewpoints in the region based on its depth of ties with Arabic and Gulf states, assuring that this will bring major economic developments to the country and help solve the security crisis. Iraq is capable of being an “arena for consensus and reconciliation among the countries of the region,” he noted.

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Iraq’s Ministry of Planning and the Council of Ministers Secretariat, together with UN-Habitat, publicly launched the National Platform for Reconstruction and Development.

For more than one year, UN-Habitat has been working very closely with the Ministry of Planning to develop and finalize the Platform, with generous funding support from the Iraq UNDAF Trust Fund, which is a multi-donor trust fund.

The Platform provides up-to-date key information on reconstruction and development projects. It is a web-based GIS data system that contains analytical reports, statistical data for projects, as well as interactive maps of projects locations. By sharing project information, the Platform will enable relevant actors to avoid duplication and coordinate for better planning.

Now accessible to public and with interactive window, the Platform will also allow the Government of Iraq to receive feedback from its citizens on the reconstruction and development projects, helping to build trust between the Government and people.

H.E. Dr. Mahdi Al-Allaq, Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, stated that “the Platform will advance delivery of the commitments made at the Kuwait International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq”.

H.E. Dr. Noori Al-Dulaimi, Minister of Planning, commented that “through the Platform, projects will be managed in a transparent manner and monitored by the international community”.

Ms. Marta Ruedas, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General/Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator, stated that the Platform provides an overview of the projects implemented, and enables evidence-based planning and decision making.

The Data Platform is accessible at: https://mnpcd.gov.iq/

(Source: UN)

Iran and Iraq signed five deals to promote cooperation in various fields on the first day of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s trip to Baghdad.

In a meeting co-chaired by Rouhani and Prime Minister of Iraq Adil Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad on Monday evening, top officials from the two countries signed five memoranda of understanding.

The documents entail cooperation between Iran and Iraq concerning the Basra-Shalamcheh railroad project, visa facilitation for investors, cooperation in the health sector, and agreements between the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Trade of Iran and Ministry of Trade of Iraq, and another one in the field of oil between the petroleum ministries of the two countries.

Heading a high-ranking delegation, Rouhani arrived in Baghdad on Monday at the official invitation of the Iraqi government. It is Rouhani’s first official visit to Iraq during his tenure.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

Iran and Iraq signed five deals to promote cooperation in various fields on the first day of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s trip to Baghdad.

In a meeting co-chaired by Rouhani and Prime Minister of Iraq Adil Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad on Monday evening, top officials from the two countries signed five memoranda of understanding.

The documents entail cooperation between Iran and Iraq concerning the Basra-Shalamcheh railroad project, visa facilitation for investors, cooperation in the health sector, and agreements between the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Trade of Iran and Ministry of Trade of Iraq, and another one in the field of oil between the petroleum ministries of the two countries.

Heading a high-ranking delegation, Rouhani arrived in Baghdad on Monday at the official invitation of the Iraqi government. It is Rouhani’s first official visit to Iraq during his tenure.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) has announced that Shire Oak International has become the latest organisation to join the Council.

Shire Oak International is the first organisation with a primary focus on Renewable Energy to join the IBBC.

Shire Oak International is a developer and financier of large-scale renewable energy projects in developing countries and emerging economies. Its core mission is to be a global pathfinder in devising, implementing and spreading renewable energy solutions to drive transformational change in the rate of adoption of renewable energy in the developing world.

In line with this mission – as of October 2018 – the company is advancing 3.7GW of renewable energy projects to be operational in the coming 3-5 years. Beyond this initial suite of projects, the company is validating a further potential 5-6GW to be operational by 2030, a total of over 9GW in 13-15 countries. While the projects and country portfolios are different in many ways, they face common challenges.

Shire Oak International aims to provide a suite of development and financing solutions to surmount these challenges in order to bend the emissions curve in globally important energy markets. Innovative blended finance structures, which combine public and private funds, will be deployed.

Shire Oak International will bring significant expertise in the renewable energy sector to the IBBC, which brings exciting future possibilities to Iraq and its people.

(Source: IBBC)

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) has announced that Shire Oak International has become the latest organisation to join the Council.

Shire Oak International is the first organisation with a primary focus on Renewable Energy to join the IBBC.

Shire Oak International is a developer and financier of large-scale renewable energy projects in developing countries and emerging economies. Its core mission is to be a global pathfinder in devising, implementing and spreading renewable energy solutions to drive transformational change in the rate of adoption of renewable energy in the developing world.

In line with this mission – as of October 2018 – the company is advancing 3.7GW of renewable energy projects to be operational in the coming 3-5 years. Beyond this initial suite of projects, the company is validating a further potential 5-6GW to be operational by 2030, a total of over 9GW in 13-15 countries. While the projects and country portfolios are different in many ways, they face common challenges.

Shire Oak International aims to provide a suite of development and financing solutions to surmount these challenges in order to bend the emissions curve in globally important energy markets. Innovative blended finance structures, which combine public and private funds, will be deployed.

Shire Oak International will bring significant expertise in the renewable energy sector to the IBBC, which brings exciting future possibilities to Iraq and its people.

(Source: IBBC)

The president of Iran voiced the country’s readiness to expand trade ties with Iraq and increase exports to the neighboring state.

“We are ready to have our tradespeople more active in Iraq and supply the required goods so that we can reach a good balance,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said at the Economic-Trade Forum of Iran and Iraq in Baghdad on Monday, his website reported.

Extensive economic and trade cooperation between Iran and Iraq would benefit the both nations and the region, the president stressed, adding, “The two Iranian and Iraqi nations have always been together in recent years in creating security and stability.”

“The Iranian nation and government are very happy that they have been alongside the Iraqi nation and army from the beginning in their fight against terrorism,” Rouhani noted.

Referring to the achievement of stability and security in Iraq, Rouhani said, “Iranian economic and trade executives have stood by the Iraqi nation even when the country was insecure.”

As regards the agreement reached during his meeting with Iraqi official, Rouhani said, “It was also decided that visas still remain in place, but the fees were decided to be removed and visas be issued free of charge.”

“Iran is ready to develop relations in different fields such as energy, and supplying power and gas to Iraq,” he emphasized.

Stressing that Iran is determined to increase trade relations with Iraq to $20 billion from $12 billion, Rouhani said, “Facilitating banking relations can create a historic opportunity for the two nations.”

“Today, we are witnessing the closest relations between the two countries… This historic opportunity can be a turning point in the relations between the two countries,” he concluded.

Heading a high-ranking delegation, Rouhani arrived in Baghdad on Monday at the official invitation of the Iraqi government. It is Rouhani’s first official visit to Iraq during his tenure.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Baghdad on March 11 amid his government’s efforts to expand ties with Iraq to reduce the impact of US sanction on Iran’s economy.

Prior to departing Tehran, Rouhani remarked, “[Iran’s ties with Iraq] cannot be compared to Iraq’s relations with an occupying country like America, which is hated in the region.” The visit is Rouhani’s first one to Baghdad since taking office in 2013.

The Iranian leader’s three days in Iraq will include his signing a series of agreements on energy, transport, agriculture, industry and health as well as meetings with Iraqi officials. In preparation, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Baghdad the day before Rouhani.

Iran aims to boost annual trade with its neighbor from $12 billion to $20 billion to help offset US sanctions, which are strangling its economy.

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The Secretary of Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce said the obstacles to banking interaction between the two neighbors have been settled and the bilateral trade exchange is fairly normal.

In comments at a televised program on Sunday night, Hamid Hosseini said the problems with banking relations between Iran and Iraq have been resolved and the process of exports to Iraq as well as trade exchange with the Arab country has become stable and much better than before.

Iranian exporters’ concerns about trade with Iraq under a currency agreement have been addressed, the official noted, expressing hope that the process of steady trade exchange with Iraq would continue in the coming Iranian year.

Hosseini pointed to a 32-strong delegation of Iranian private sector’s business people accompanying President Hassan Rouhani in an ongoing trip to Iraq, saying the presidential visit will produce perfect results for the private sector.

A large number of technical and engineering projects worth 7 to 8 billion dollars which Iranian private sector companies were carrying out in Iraq have remained unfinished since the rise of the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group in 2014, the official said, hoping that Rouhani’s trip would help address the issue.

Heading a high-ranking delegation, Rouhani left Iran for Iraq at the official invitation of Baghdad.

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

In February, 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.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Iraqi President Barham Salih in Tehran in November, Rouhani said the value of trade and economic interaction between Tehran and Baghdad stands at around $12 billion, adding that the two neighbors have the potential for a $20-billion trade target.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)