By John Lee.

The Iraqi parliament has reportedly authorised borrowing of up to $5 billion (Dh18bn) from abroad after the fall in oil prices caused a financial crunch.

According to The National, the vote came a few days rating agency Fitch forecast the economy to shrink 9 per cent this year and debt to skyrocket.

More here.

(Source: The National)

By John Lee.

Fitch Ratings has affirmed Trade Bank of Iraq’s (TBI) Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘B-‘ with Negative Outlook. A full list of rating actions is below.

The Negative Outlook mirrors that on the sovereign. This reflects the impact of oil price slump on Iraq’s fiscal and external finances, near-term uncertainty over the sovereign’s financing plan and limitations on policymakers’ ability to respond to the fiscal crisis.

The Iraqi economy is undiversified and highly dependent on oil, which accounts for 50% of its GDP and close to 90% of fiscal revenues. Fitch forecasts the budget deficit to widen to 19% of GDP in 2020 and government debt/GDP to increase to an average of 80% in 2020-2021 from 47% in 2019.

Larger budget deficits will severely constrain government capital spending and banks’ credit growth. Fitch expects real GDP to shrink 9% in 2020.

More here.

(Source: Fitch)

By John Lee.

The Iranian parliament, the Majlis, has approved a government bill to redenominate its currency, dropping four zeros.

According to Tehran Times, the proposal came from the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), and will result in a new currency, the “toman”, which will equal 10,000 rials.

Reuters reports that the bill must now be approved by the clerical body that vets legislation before it takes effect.

The rial has lost more than 60 percent of its value since US President Donald Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA) and reimposed sanctions.

(Sources: Tehran Times, Reuters)

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) held a well attended video conference on the subject of ‘The Adoption of Fintech and Online Safety and its impact on the Iraqi Economy‘, for members and a wider audience of Tech specialists in UK and Iraq.

The key speakers included:

  • Hugo Rousseau – Program manager for Fintech at Tech UK- who spoke on emergent trends in Tech and with companies emerging from UK.
  • Yazen Altimimi- Ceo Zain Cash, Iraq’s largest on line transactor and Telecom, who shared his view of the Iraqi Fintech market and the opportunities and challenges within it.
  • Ian Taylor- VP Government relations in EU for Mastercard- who provided an overview of the importance and relevance of Government if bringing forward changes to the Tech ecosystem, the regulatory framework and as a key drive for, change.
  • Botan Osman: CEO Restrata -The importance of safety and security software and crisis management expertise.

The panel provided insights into aspects and impact of Fintech for Iraq, including the benefits of an online and cashless economy, that development of Fintech in London has benefitted from being a financial centre and now has over $5bn FDI alone on Fintech.

Overall benefits of Fintech encompass transparency, efficiency and cost reduction, prevention of fraud and  Financial inclusion for the 32million Iraqis who do not have a bank account ( 2 billion world wide). But also the point that a cash economy is expensive and possibly more so than costs of implementing an online economy. The panel discussed the need for Government to lead and adopt technological changes that facilitate public uptake,including the mandating of online transactions in various service areas and including E Govt for licenses and driving changes with the Central Bank as well as a clear and positive regulatory framework  that is not too restrictive in the first instance, but fosters trust .

It was agreed that the public and consumer has a low trust in banking and online banking, for historical reasons- and that marketing and online wins need to be communicated to them to encourage adoption – something Zain Cash is doing, to realise its ambition to become Iraq’s first digital bank. To this point. Mastercard also added that the cost of online security has to be factored into costs for transactions, but that once its operating at scale the costs come down.

Tech UK also note that new non traditional players are entering the financial services market- such as Telecoms, and the giants like Apple, Google, and in Africa- E-PESA has been hugely effective in supporting development of the economy and overall efficiency – something that Iraq could rapidly adopt  as it has a high penetration of smart phones already.Data sharing, AI and Open Banking are impacting on the kind of services and shaping the agendas in EU in a positive way for both consumers and businesses.

Botan Osman made the relevant points that online tech and safety during Covid crisis has come to the fore as people are working remotely from home, but still need to remain vigilant on production platforms and safe from hackers- so Restrata have a platform that enable monitoring of assets and people and their online safety – Given the financial  efficiency pressures on oil and gas production, online monitoring and reduction in personnel  go hand in hand with their system capabilities, and this is likely replicated across many sectors in Iraq and Internationally.

He said that ‘ now is the time’ to make radical changes in Government and business, to adapt to COVID and low oil prices, and to embrace the opportunity and benefits Tech brings . Overall it was agreed that a mindset shift is required among Government and populations to embrace the opportunities now.

For more information on the panel, please view the video here.

Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) Tech forum Video Conference

Monday 27th April, 2:00 – 2:45 pm UK time.

Topic:

To discuss the adoption and benefits of Fintech and Cyber Tech and likely impact on the Iraqi economy, based on experiences elsewhere.

Speakers:

  • Hugo Rousseau: program mgr financial services TechUK (the UKs largest Tech association)
  • Yazen Altimimi: MD ZainCash – Iraq’s largest telecom operator and online transactor
  • Botan Osman: MD of Restrata -Software safety
  • Ian Taylor: Governmental Director of Mastercard Europe.
  • Ashley Goodall – IBBC (Chair)

Hugo Rousseau to provide an overview from UK of Fintech and Cyber in relation to dynamics of the Tech economy, and its benefits to UK plc, and likely benefits to Iraq.

Ian Taylor to provide insights into Mastercard digital operations and how they use Fintech to work with Govt and Financial service providers, and the likely opportunities for Iraq.

Yazen Alminimi – overview of Digital / Fintech operation in Iraq and how Zain’s online payments are being adopted – challenges and opportunities in Iraqi market and role of the Central bank?

Botan Osman – how Software tech can secure and support the development of online company digital services in Iraq.

 

General discussion: 10 Minutes

 

Please submit any questions you might have in advance for speakers to: London@webuildiraq.org

Total time- 45 minutes.

Please register using this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_jVTT3VMpT0CQw1a__meuyA

(Source: IBBC)

By John Lee.

Fitch Ratings has revised the outlook for the Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) from “Stable” to “Negative“.

In a statement, it says that TBI’s Issuer Default Rating (IDR)s are driven by the bank’s Viability Rating (VR) and underpinned by potential sovereign support.

The revision of the Outlook to Negative from Stable follows a similar action on the sovereign rating (see “Fitch Revises Outlook on Iraq to Negative; Affirms at ‘B-‘” on www.fitchratings.com).

“This reflects the impact of the decline in oil prices on Iraq’s fiscal and external finances, near-term uncertainty concerning the sovereign’s financing plan and limitations on policymakers’ ability to respond to the fiscal crisis. Iraq’s budget revenue sensitivity to oil price and volume is significant, given dependence on oil that accounts for 85%-90% of fiscal revenue.

“We forecast that the budget deficit will widen to 19% of GDP in 2020 and government debt/GDP to an average of 80% in 2020-2021, versus 47% in 2019.

“TBI’s VR of ‘b-‘ is constrained by the operating environment in Iraq, which is volatile and challenging, and where TBI generates 70% of its business volume (on- and off-balance sheet exposure).

“Therefore, the operating environment and broader country risks influence TBI’s standalone risk profile. As a result, we see downside risks to the stability of TBI’s business model, the ability of the bank to execute its strategy, as well as earnings, capitalisation and funding and liquidity relative to when we last reviewed TBI’s ratings.

(Source: Fitch)

By John Lee.

Fitch Ratings has revised the outlook for the Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) from “Stable” to “Negative“.

In a statement, it says that TBI’s Issuer Default Rating (IDR)s are driven by the bank’s Viability Rating (VR) and underpinned by potential sovereign support.

The revision of the Outlook to Negative from Stable follows a similar action on the sovereign rating (see “Fitch Revises Outlook on Iraq to Negative; Affirms at ‘B-‘” on www.fitchratings.com).

“This reflects the impact of the decline in oil prices on Iraq’s fiscal and external finances, near-term uncertainty concerning the sovereign’s financing plan and limitations on policymakers’ ability to respond to the fiscal crisis. Iraq’s budget revenue sensitivity to oil price and volume is significant, given dependence on oil that accounts for 85%-90% of fiscal revenue.

“We forecast that the budget deficit will widen to 19% of GDP in 2020 and government debt/GDP to an average of 80% in 2020-2021, versus 47% in 2019.

“TBI’s VR of ‘b-‘ is constrained by the operating environment in Iraq, which is volatile and challenging, and where TBI generates 70% of its business volume (on- and off-balance sheet exposure).

“Therefore, the operating environment and broader country risks influence TBI’s standalone risk profile. As a result, we see downside risks to the stability of TBI’s business model, the ability of the bank to execute its strategy, as well as earnings, capitalisation and funding and liquidity relative to when we last reviewed TBI’s ratings.

(Source: Fitch)

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

Iraq asks IMF for debt deferment due to coronavirus crisis

The economic and finance adviser to Iraq’s Prime Minister has revealed that talks are taking place with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a deferment of the country’s foreign debt payments during the coronavirus crisis.

Mohammed Saleh told the IMF that the circumstances constitute a force majeure which is afflicting many countries around the world, the state-owned Al-Sabaah has reported.

“As one of the founders of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in the 1940s,” explained Saleh, “Iraq seeks to defer the payment of its debts. The IMF will help Iraq if it agrees to this, or a simplification of procedures, which is possible, but it all needs high-level diplomatic input.”

According to a spokesman for Iraq’s Council of Ministers, Alaa Al-Fahd, while the talks are ongoing and the proposal has been made, the IMF has given no response at the present time, as there are no claims for payment outstanding. He said that when the Iraqi government has a deficit it is approached on a yearly basis by the World Bank which offers it a loan to stabilise its economy.

“This year, however, there are many things that will be taken into consideration, as the United States has proposed stopping debt repayment at this stage, which is a good thing, especially since Iraq’s debts to be paid to the IMF this year are estimated at more than $10 billion,” said Al-Fahd. “In the event that there is an agreement, this will benefit Iraq given the current economic and political situation.”

The burden of paying its foreign debt, added the spokesman, is a strain on Iraq’s already-fragile economy, as most of the country’s wealth is produced by its oil industry due to a lack of economic diversity. “The economy of Iraq is unstable, because it depends 95 per cent on oil and the remaining five per cent cannot be collected now, due to the lack of taxes, fees, etc.” Iraq’s dependence on its oil industry has already been hit by the recent oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

The coronavirus pandemic and the economic slump it has caused is predicted to be particularly difficult for Middle East countries. In its World Economic Outlook report for 2020 which was released this month, the IMF has predicted that Iraq’s economy will decline by 4.7 per cent.

(Source: Middle East Monitor)

Trade Bank of Iraq Announces Capital Increase to USD 3 Billion Under New Three Year Strategic Vision

The Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) has announced a new capital increase that aims to raise the bank’s financial strength in line with the new strategic vision for 2020-23.

The bank has increased its capital to USD 3 billion (3.5 Trillion Iraqi Dinar) for the year 2020 from USD 2.3 billion (2.7 Trillion Iraqi Dinar) in 2019.

The step has been taken with the approval of the Prime Minster of Iraq on the back of TBI’s promising 2019 financial results audited by E&Y Ernst & Young. The increased capital is aimed at reinforcing the bank’s status in Iraq and its position as a leading Iraqi bank with global reach.

TBI achieved a robust growth in revenues and in key financial areas during the financial year 2019. The financial results shows that TBI achieved revenues of USD 708 million (837 billion Iraqi Dinar), which grew by 12% over 2018, and a net profit of USD 556 million (657 billion Iraqi dinars) in 2019, an increase of 68% from the previous year.

The total assets of TBI grew to USD 29 billion (34 trillion Iraqi Dinar) in 2019 thereby recording an increase of 27% in comparison to 2018.

Faisal Al Haimus, Chairman & President of Trade Bank of Iraq, said:

“The capital increase is a significant step forward on the path to creating a stronger bank which will reinforce our ability to execute the strategic plan for the coming three years to increase the banks revenues and profits.”

The capital increase, the largest in the history of the TBI since its establishment in 2003, solidifies TBI’s leadership on development financing for the country and help continue to play a pivotal and influential role in Iraq’s ongoing recovery.

Faisal added:

“We have accomplished a lot in the recent years but we are aware that we have still a long way to go. Our objective is to help increase the quality of life for the people of Iraq which is the essence of the social responsibility towards the Iraqi people.”

Based on the Approval of the Prime Minister of Iraq, TBI also successfully transferred 20% of the bank’s profits for the year 2019 amounting to 111 million US dollars (131 billion Iraqi dinars) to the state’s treasury.

The bank opened its first branch outside Iraq last year in Riyadh, KSA and plans to upgrade its representative office in Abu Dhabi Global Market to enable it to conduct investment arranging  and advisory activities.

(Source: TBI)

Trade Bank of Iraq Announces Capital Increase to USD 3 Billion Under New Three Year Strategic Vision

The Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) has announced a new capital increase that aims to raise the bank’s financial strength in line with the new strategic vision for 2020-23.

The bank has increased its capital to USD 3 billion (3.5 Trillion Iraqi Dinar) for the year 2020 from USD 2.3 billion (2.7 Trillion Iraqi Dinar) in 2019.

The step has been taken with the approval of the Prime Minster of Iraq on the back of TBI’s promising 2019 financial results audited by E&Y Ernst & Young. The increased capital is aimed at reinforcing the bank’s status in Iraq and its position as a leading Iraqi bank with global reach.

TBI achieved a robust growth in revenues and in key financial areas during the financial year 2019. The financial results shows that TBI achieved revenues of USD 708 million (837 billion Iraqi Dinar), which grew by 12% over 2018, and a net profit of USD 556 million (657 billion Iraqi dinars) in 2019, an increase of 68% from the previous year.

The total assets of TBI grew to USD 29 billion (34 trillion Iraqi Dinar) in 2019 thereby recording an increase of 27% in comparison to 2018.

Faisal Al Haimus, Chairman & President of Trade Bank of Iraq, said:

“The capital increase is a significant step forward on the path to creating a stronger bank which will reinforce our ability to execute the strategic plan for the coming three years to increase the banks revenues and profits.”

The capital increase, the largest in the history of the TBI since its establishment in 2003, solidifies TBI’s leadership on development financing for the country and help continue to play a pivotal and influential role in Iraq’s ongoing recovery.

Faisal added:

“We have accomplished a lot in the recent years but we are aware that we have still a long way to go. Our objective is to help increase the quality of life for the people of Iraq which is the essence of the social responsibility towards the Iraqi people.”

Based on the Approval of the Prime Minister of Iraq, TBI also successfully transferred 20% of the bank’s profits for the year 2019 amounting to 111 million US dollars (131 billion Iraqi dinars) to the state’s treasury.

The bank opened its first branch outside Iraq last year in Riyadh, KSA and plans to upgrade its representative office in Abu Dhabi Global Market to enable it to conduct investment arranging  and advisory activities.

(Source: TBI)