By John Lee.

Jean-Louis de Brouwer, head of the European Union’s humanitarian aid department, warned on Thursday that the situation in Iraq is deteriorating rapidly, while the world is preoccupied with crises elsewhere.

He told The Associated Press that the number of displaced people in Iraq has quadrupled in the past year and shows no signs of decreasing:

“The worst is still to come … The situation is deteriorating, humanitarian aid is becoming even more essential than it was, the problem is funding.

“I’m afraid there is also, not donor fatigue, but donor exhaustion.”

Fighting in Iraq has displaced 2.7 million people inside the country, including 110,000 who fled from renewed fighting in and around Ramadi.

(Source: The Associated Press)

(Crisis image via Shutterstock)

By John Lee.

Iraq’s oil exports hit a record 3.08 million bpd in April, according to Reuters, up from 2.98 mln bpd in the previous month,

Exports from the southern terminals reached 2.627 million bpd, while exports from the north via the Kurdistan pipeline were 450,000 bpd.

At an average price of $51.70 per barrel, this brought in revenues of $4.8 billion.

(Source: Reuters)

(Oil image via Shutterstock)

By John Lee.

Reuters reports that Iraq is approaching credit rating agencies to obtain a sovereign credit rating as it prepares for its first international bond sale for nine years.

Finance Minister Hoshiyar Zebari (pictured) told the news agency:

“We started the process … The banks are also trying to help us in that direction.”

Iraq has said it will issue $5 billion (6 trillion Iraqi dinar) of debt to help cover a projected budget deficit of about $25 billion this year. A credit rating from a major agency could help persuade global fund managers to subscribe to the issue.

Iraq has been discussing its bond issue plans with Citibank and Deutsche Bank.

Reuters quotes fund managers as saying that Iraq would struggle to sell $5 billion in a short space of time, even with generous pricing.

(Source: Reuters)

The Washington DC-based think tank the Bipartisan Policy Centre (BPC) says the United States must look for a new reliable strategic partner such as the Kurds, to replace Turkey, as Turkey is no longer a dependable ally.

According to the BPC, Turkey has failed to secure the length of its 560 mile with Syria against the tide of extremists, athough when Kurdish fighters wanted to cross Turkish territory in order to defend against ISIS, Turkey barred their way.

Most notably, Turkey has refused to allow U.S. coalition forces to use its airbase at Incirlik, even for combat search and rescue missions. “This decision by Ankara, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, not only reduces the effectiveness of the campaign against ISIS, but it places the lives of American and allied forces at risk,” says the report.

It suggests eeking an alternative to Incirlik in KRG territory, reducing U.S. reliance on Turkey while also providing similar geographic advantages for operations in Iraq and Syria to combat ISIS.

It adds that, with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) engaged in a political-solution process with the Turkish government and emerging as a viable partner against ISIS, there is a growing chorus suggesting that the United States and Europe delist the PKK as a terrorist organization.

The full report can be downloaded here.

(Source: BPC)

By John Lee.

The French retailer Groupe Auchan has announced that its hypermarket in Erbil has closed down.

The company described the closure as a “non-anticipated decision … by the SI Retail shareholders, the English-law firm managing locally the hypermarket, due to the difficult situation encountered in the country.” SI Retail signed an Auchan franchise contract in 2012, the 6,000-sqm hypermarket being opened on 25 June 2014.

However, due to the operating difficulties faced by the hypermarket end-2014, Groupe Auchan had agreed to grant the operator more time to pay the franchise licence owed for the year, so that it could meet its commitments.

Despite this measure, SI Retail was not able to improve the situation of the hypermarket, which brought it to take this closing decision. This unilateral decision from SI Retail put de facto an end to the contract signed by both firms.

Local employees received their April payroll.

(Source: Auchan)

Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Bahaa Al Araji (pictured), told a high level international conference in Baghdad on Wednesday that his country recognised the vital importance of foreign investment and Iraq was full of opportunity.

Dr Bahaa said the Government was ready to extend all facilities and offer incentives for businesses to come to Iraq. Large provision had been made in the latest national budget for this.

Speaking at the conference, organised jointly by the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC), the National Investment Commission (NIC) and the Federation of Iraqi Chambers of Commerce, Dr Bahaa said he was particularly keen to encourage UK firms to come to Iraq.

We know these firms will do business in the right way. They would be very welcome to help us reconstruct our country,” he added.

The Chairman of the National Investment Commission, Dr Sami Al Araji, continued on the same theme, telling the audience of senior UK and international business leaders that Iraq was reforming itself for outside investment.

We want to change from a central economy to an international economy. We want to be open to other countries and make all facilities available to encourage them to invest. If we want to work with the outside world then we must deal with business in the international way,” said Dr Al Araji.

He said the country had more than 900 projects that could be offered up for international investment and participation.

Iraq’s Minister for Oil, Dr Adil Abdul Mahdi, also spoke of the urgent need for foreign investment.

To achieve our ambitions to serve the country better and maximise production of oil, we need to improve our infrastructure for oil and gas. We are actually losing more now than we historically produced in total,” said Mr Mahdi.

Iraq Business News takes another step forward today with the launch of its fresh, new, fully-responsive website.

As the leading source of business news for Iraq, IBN has seen mobile and tablet use increase steadily, to where it now accounts for over a third of the site’s traffic.

Our new site means that people visiting from iOS, Android or Windows Mobile will easily be able to access IBN without having to zoom in and out, while computer users will also benefit a clearer, fresher news feed.

Editor Padraig O’Hannelly commented:

“We provide frequent, concise and relevant information to our readers, and these people are increasingly on the move; they want to access Iraq Business News quickly and easily, and we’ve responded with a new format gives them that.”

Lead developer Pete White added:

“The mobile experience is essential to us. We engage our readers on a number of platforms including Facebook and Twitter, and it’s important to these people that our content is easy to read and fast to load.”

Iraq Business News has over 200,000 visitors per month, and it’s weekly newsletter reaches over 25,000 people.

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