By John Lee.

The state-owned Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) is reported to be planning to expand its operations in China and the Gulf.

Chairman Faisal al-Haimus [al-Haimus] told Reuters that the bank want to increase revenues from retail banking and international operations from 25 percent to 30 percent by 2022.

He added that it plans to open a representative office in China in 2020, and will upgrade its license in Abu Dhabi from a “representative office” to “asset management company“.

More here.

(Source: Reuters)

The Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies has just published a new report from our Expert Blogger Ahmed Tabaqchali:

The current debate over the interpretation of the 2019 budget that governs the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) share of the federal budget in return for contributing 250,000 bbl/d to federal oil exports has echoes of the first conflict in April 2012 on the issue.

The adept quote above by the International Crisis Group (ICC), in its description of the relationship between the two sides leading to that conflict, is as applicable today as it was then, and over the many repeats of similar conflicts in the intervening years.

The current flare up is initiated by members of the federal parliament against the Government of Iraq (GoI) over its continuing payments to the KRG, under the terms of the 2019 budget, while the KRG has not or refused to honour its obligations under the terms of the same budget.

The internal and external dynamics of the players on both sides, the federal politicians and the regional Kurdish politicians, follow the same trajectory that led to countless struggles over this issue and others since 2003. Each side is not only blind and deaf to the other side’s needs and motives but views it with suspicion and mistrust.

Unless something breaks the mould, either an intervention by Iraq’s international stakeholders or a change in the balance of relative power between the two, both will continue to think and act in the same manner that each had acted in the past, while still expecting a different outcome for the conflict or a different response form the other side.

Read Ahmed Tabaqchali’s full report here.

By John Lee.

The World Bank will reportedly lend a total of $200 million to Iraq for upgrades to its electricity grid.

According to Basnews, the agreement was signed by Finance Minister Fuad Hussein and Yara Salim, a representative to the World Bank.

There will be attempts to address the problem of power supply in Basra province and surrounding areas in collaboration with the World Bank,” the Iraqi minister added.

Iraq is expected to implement the projects within five years, and repay the debts in ten to 15 years.

(Source: Basnews)

By Padraig O’Hannelly.

Iraq’s Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Construction, Housing, Municipalities and General Works has presented details of reconstruction projects underway in areas affected by terrorism.

Dr Dara Reshid, who is also Vice President of the Reconstruction Fund for Areas Affected by Terroristic Operations (REFAATO), told CWC‘s Kirkuk & Mosul Megaprojects conference in London that IQD 1,086 billion ($870 million) has been allocated from Iraq’s 2019 budget to fund 267 projects in the liberated areas.

More details here and here.

This weekend, the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) hosted its annual members’ retreat at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Park, which was generously sponsored by Al Burhan Group.

As with previous years, it was very well attended by over seventy delegates, and allowed our members to mingle and network with representatives of other businesses, civil servants, and Iraqi government dignitaries.

Speakers and organisations represented included:

  • Dr Falah Al Amiri, Advisor to the Ministry of Oil, Government of Iraq
  • Dr Hameed Ahmed, Deputy Higher Education Minister
  • Eng. Dara Rasheed, Deputy Minister of Housing, Construction & Municipalities
  • Jon Wilks CMG, HM Ambassador to Iraq
  • Beverley Simpson, Director, Department of International Trade (DIT) in Iraq
  • Dr Victoria Lindsay, Director, British Council, Iraq
  • Emma Sky, Director, Greenberg World Fellows Program, Yale University
  • Nicolas Pelham, The Economist
  • Professor Toby Dodge, London School of Economics
  • Dr Renad Mansour, Chatham House
  • Al Burhan Group
  • Basra Gateway Terminal
  • Bath Spa University
  • BP
  • Chevron
  • Constellis
  • ExxonMobil
  • Financial Times
  • G4S
  • KBR
  • Management Partners
  • Mosul University
  • OiLSERV Kuwait
  • Petrofac
  • Rolls-Royce
  • Serco
  • Shire Oak International
  • Stirling Education
  • Tube Tech International
  • TurnKey LLC
  • University of Dundee
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Northampton
  • University of Northampton
  • University of Sheffield
  • Wood Plc

Sessions included discussions and panels on the state of Iraq, contemporary Middle Eastern politics, meetings for our various sector tables (including oil and gas, and construction and infrastructure), economic development strategies for Iraq, and how higher education partnerships could be developed between the UK and Iraq. A biannual council meeting for representatives of our member organisations was also held.

Christophe Michels, Managing Director of the IBBC was happy with how the weekend went:

“As in previous years the Retreat has attracted some of the finest minds from business, academia, politics, media and diplomacy working on Iraq to conduct truly meaningful and intimate discussions”.

Baroness Emma Nicholson, President of the IBBC and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan said:

“IBBC has had a fantastically happy and hugely productive busy weekend. We call it a retreat, but I am not sure what it was a retreat from! People were working morning, noon, and night, and they were making great achievements, and huge strides in the various different table meetings…one of the best I can ever remember”.

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

(Source: IBBC)

By John Lee.

Iraq and the Netherlands have signed a double taxation agreement on Monday.

Iraqi Finance Minister Fuad Hussein is quoted as saying that avoiding double taxation will improve the business environment and help to attract foreign businesses and investments to Iraq.

(Sources: Iraqi Ministry of Finance, Kurdistan 24)

By John Lee.

The Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) has officially opened its new headquarters in Baghdad.

Located on Al Rasheed Street in the heart of Baghdad, the new headquarters is wholly owned by the bank and is designed to facilitate collaboration, bringing 670 Baghdad-based employees of TBI under one roof for the first time.

The building comprises of 5 floors with the ground floor set to provide banking services to customers while the remaining floors are dedicated to administrative work.

The TBI also recently opened its first operational branch outside Iraq, in Saudi Arabia.

(Source: TBI)

By John Lee.

The state-owned Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) has reportedly signed a Memorandum of Understanding with India-based ESDS Software Solution to develop financial technology and a cloud platform in Iraq.

According to Zawya, Alpen Capital (ME) Limited acted as the sole advisor for the transaction between the two firms, which aims to “establish a long-term strategic relationship in the field of establishing and managing data centre, cloud solutions and virtualization and disaster recovery hosting solutions, financial technology solutions and other Information Technology services in Iraq“.

Faisal Al Haimus, Chairman and President of TBI, is quoted as saying:

“This is indeed a landmark association and we believe our combined synergies will allow us to make significant strides in the area of fintech and technology advancement. This is the latest in a number of strategic agreements we have made with leading firms in the region to help rebuild, develop and modernise Iraq.”

(Source: Zawya)

By John Lee.

Iraq’s Minister of Transport, Abdullah Luaibi [Abdul Allah al-Leibi], has said that Iraq is actively seeking to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative [“One Belt, One Road (OBOR)“].

In statements on Monday, the Ministry confirmed that the Minister met with China’s Ambassador to Iraq, Zhang Tao, to discuss the plan.

It added that Iraq wants to accelerate the process of joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

(Source: Ministry of Transport)

JICA to Support Iraq’s Reconstruction and Revitalization through Upgrade of Basrah Refinery

Signing of Japanese ODA Loan Agreement for Iraq

On 16 June, 2019, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Iraqi Government signed a loan agreement at Ministry of Finance in Baghdad.

The ODA (Official Development Assistance) loan amounting to JPY 110,000 million (approximately USD 1 billion) will be used for Basrah Refinery Upgrading Project. The loan agreement was signed by H.E. Mr. Fuad Mohammed Hussein, Minister of Finance and Masayuki Hirosawa, Chief Representative of JICA Iraq Office, in the presence of H.E. Mr. Hamid Younis Salih, Deputy Minister of Oil and H.E. Mr. Naofumi Hashimoto, Japanese Ambassador to Iraq. This concessional ODA loan aims to support the Government of Iraq in its efforts to reconstruct the country and revitalize its economy.

The loan named “Basrah Refinery Upgrading Project (II)” is the second tranche loan for Basrah Refinery Upgrading Project, one of the mega projects known in the region. For the same project, JICA previously concluded two loan agreements for (i) the engineering services loan in the amount of JPY 2,079 million and (ii) the first tranche loan in the amount of JPY 42,435 million.

The entire project aims to increase the quantity and quality of oil products including gasoline, diesel and kerosene, by installing a new refining plant called Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) Complex in Basrah Refinery, which is one of the biggest oil refineries currently operational in Iraq. It will be implemented by South Refineries Company, Ministry of Oil.

Iraq has the world’s fifth-largest proven oil reserves and is currently OPEC’s second-largest producer. Nevertheless, most of the existing refineries in the country have been shut down or decreased their production capacity, suffered from damages and deterioration in the previous decades of conflicts. Many of the plans to construct new refineries have faced with challenges and delays and are yet to achieve substantial increase of the refining capacity.

On the contrary, the ongoing reconstruction efforts in liberated areas and the revitalization of socio-economic activities across the country have prompted huge demand for fuels, such as gasoline and diesel. As a result, despite being one of the largest oil producers, Iraq has no choice but to import the significant amount of oil products from neighboring countries so as to meet the demand for transport, power generation and industrial production.

Against this backdrop, the project to construct Iraq’s first-ever FCC Complex will increase the volume of the high-value added oil products, promote the transfer of refining technologies from Japan and help save valuable foreign currencies to import huge amount of fuels. The new plant will also reduce sulfur content in the products in accordance with the international environmental standards. Furthermore, the project is expected to pave the way for energizing private sector involvement in the downstream of Iraq’s energy industry and provide economic opportunities for the people of Iraq, especially in Basrah.

The loan is very concessional with the low interest rate and long repayment period: the interest rate of 0.20% and the repayment period of 40 years including 10-year grace period.

(Source: JICA)