By John Lee.

Reuters reports that Russia is ready to sell Sukhoi Superjet civil airliners to Iraq.

On a trade mission to Baghdad, accompanied by nearly 100 government and business officials, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said Russia could provide Sukhoi Superjet airliners for Iraq’s civil aviation, adding that Moscow would continue providing Iraq with military equipment.

Russian trade with Iraq last year was worth nearly $2 billion, mostly made up of Russian exports, according to TASS.

(Source: Reuters)

By John Lee.

Turkey has announced new entry regulations for Iraqi nationals.

Starting immediately, Iraqis will only be able to travel to Turkey with visas issued in the embassies of the country; previously, they could get entry permits at the border.

These measures are related to the fight against illegal migration.

(Source: News.Az)

(Visa image via Shutterstock)

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

Ali al-Jubouri, a farmer from the Babil countryside, patiently waits every year for the rainwater to evaporate from local natural salt lakes. He and his family then collect the salt left behind to sell to merchants.

Ali is among a group of poor farmers forced by now-arid lands to find makeshift opportunities to earn income and provide for their families. Many residents have left for the cities, while those who remain have resorted to harvesting salt, which brings in little money.

Um Ali, Jubouri’s wife, along with five other female family members including her daughters, wade into the stagnant water at dawn to begin collecting salt.

By noon, they manage to fill nearly seven bags, which they will sell for $1 a piece. When the work is done, Jubouri drives his old truck to the site to pick up the day’s collection.

Harvesting salt is seasonal work. The family waits through the scarce rains of winter in Babil’s al-Mahawil district, and then they wait some more, as the water evaporates from ponds and lakes in summer.

As Jubouri told Al-Monitor, “The high temperatures [of summer], reaching 50 degrees Celsius [122 degrees Fahrenheit], cause the water to evaporate rapidly in the lakes, leaving the salt behind to be easily harvested.” The family works for a few weeks each year collecting salt.

In Iraq, one finds salt ponds on the outskirts of cities, in rural areas and along the border of desert lands. In these areas, residents and Bedouin work in the salt water that remains after most of it has evaporated.

By John Lee.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has announced that it will pay only partial salaries to all government employees except security personnel, as it struggles with an economic crisis due to low oil prices.

In a statement, it said the decision was taken “in order to ensure the continued distribution of part of the monthly salaries and allowances,” and will affect higher salaries more than lower ones.

According to a report from AFP, the unpaid portion of the salaries will be considered as loans to the government.

(Source: AFP)

(Salary image via Shutterstock)

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

Once-lively Caravan Stops Crumble Along Abandoned Silk Road

In an interview with Al-Monitor, 85-year-old Hussein Khazraji described how he used to cross the distance between his hometown, Najaf, and Karbala on foot in the 1950s. He would visit the holy shrines, especially that of Hussein bin Ali in Karbala, as part of the hajj.

He and other pilgrims would stop halfway on the nearly 47-kilometer (29-mile) journey between the two cities to spend the night at the enormous Khan al-Noss building dating back to 1774.

Khazraji still vividly remembers this ancient edifice that used to serve as a hostel, where “horses and other livestock would enter the khan’s vast courtyard during the night while people would sleep over in the dozens of rooms in the upper floor.”

This once grand building now lies in ruins. Al-Monitor visited the location only to find a shapeless structure of yellow bricks, surrounded by vegetation. On close inspection, the rubble’s only remaining features were a flattened dome and the remnants of Islamic decorations that had fallen victim to the wind, rain and human negligence.

While there, Al-Monitor interviewed Haleem Yaseri, an archaeologist and history teacher at Babil High School who grew up in Karbala. He remembered of the building’s entrance, “It had a wooden gate guarded by armed men, with a small door through which people would enter and exit. The gate would be locked during periods of unrest and at night to prevent thieves from attacking the khan.”

A tour inside the building revealed dozens of rooms adorned with Islamic arches surrounding a vast yard, where brick remnants were piled alongside the remnants of wells. Vegetation covered everything.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Ibrahim Al-jaafari received the head of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Mr Shinichi Kitaoka, at the Ministry Headquarter, in Baghdad.

The two sides discussed horizons of mutual relations and means to promote them in order to meet the aspirations of the two friendly countries.

The minister said that Iraq is looking forward to establish strong strategic relations between institutes of the two countries so as to promote cooperation and benefit the Japanese experiences. The minister called on Japan to support Iraq in fields of environment, oil, energy, education, and health.

His Excellency asserted:” Japan’s experience in the reconstruction and development fields, the trust of Iraqi citizens in the Japanese products and the depth of relations between our two countries make us insists on providing further efforts, further work, opening further horizons of mutual cooperation, and reconstructing the liberated areas”. The minister referred that Iraq has multiple resources that must be invested for the interest of the Iraqi people.

Dr Al-Jaafari praised the supportive stances of Japan, expressing his gratitude for the Japanese loans and development assistance to promote the infrastructure, electricity, transportation, energy and Umm Qasr Port.

In turn, Mr Kitaoka emphasised that Japan supports Iraq’s unity, stability and the reconstruction of Iraq, commending the military triumphs achieved by the Iraqi Armed Forces against the terrorist gangs of Da’esh and the success of the Iraqi diplomacy.

Mr Kitaoka expressed the readiness of his organisation in reconstructing the infrastructure of the liberated areas, he also commended the achieved success in the files of relations and cooperation between the two countries. He pointed out that Japan will host the Group of Seven summit this year, and shall put forward the files of supporting Iraq, countering terrorism, and the displaced persons and shall work together with UN organisations to address all issues which may assist Iraq.

(Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

From Iran‘s PressTV. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, has sat down with Iraqi President Fuad Masum. The two sides have agreed on boosting economic relations.

Larijani said they discussed ways of fighting the Daesh terrorist group, and resolving insecurity in Iraq. Meanwhile, the Iranian Parliament Speaker told his Iraqi counterpart Salim al-Jabouri in a meeting that the world today is more informed about the true nature of countries that support terrorism.

He added that Iraq needs unity among its political groups to resolve its internal problems. Jabouri, for his part, thanked Tehran for extending its support to Baghdad. He also expressed hope that differences among regional countries would be settled through dialogue.

Larijani is in Iraq to attend the 11th session of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation:

A delegation of 20 Kurdish officials and businessmen, in London for the Iraq Britain Business Councils (IBBC)’s London Business Forum, visited the University of Wolverhampton last week to exchange ideas and explore partnerships with businesses in the West Midlands and the university itself.

Dr Dara Jalil Khayat, President of Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry; Dr. Atia Al Salihy, former Health Adviser to the KRG PM; Dr. Nisar Talabany, present Health Adviser to the KRG PM; and Dr. Nozad Yahya Said Baiger, the Founder & Chairman of Cihan University, were amongst the delegation that visited the university.

During the visit, which was hosted by the University of Wolverhampton’s Business Solutions Centre, the delegates met with several businesses located in the region to discuss new commercial bridges that could be established between the Kurdish and West Midlands business communities. They also visited WOOTE, a dedicated simulation centre, for a tour of digital simulation technology.

The Business Solutions Centre team, including International Business Development Manager Nigel Birch, also offered their support and expertise to delegates who were interested in starting up new projects, and provided them with advice on how to make their business ideas come to fruition.

On the second day of the visit, Dr. Nozad Yahya Said Baiger met with University officials to explore the possibility of establishing a partnership with Cihan University.

The visit was the second of its kind to the University of Wolverhampton, which is part of the IBBC University Membership scheme.

(Source: IBBC)

By John Lee.

Iraq’s Etihad Food Industries will reportedly start production at its new $100-million edible oils refinery in Babylon by the end of the year.

Commercial Director Haidar Alnoumany told Reuters that the company started building the infrastructure two months ago, and when in production it will source crude (edible) oil from many origins like Argentina, Ukraine, Russia and the United States.

The refinery will process corn oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, and palm oil, and aims to cover the needs of Iraq’s trade ministry (around 456,000 tonnes a year) and the domestic private market.

It will have a capacity of 3,000 tonnes a day with a refined oil storage capacity of 90,000 tonnes.

The plant is close to the company’s sugar refining plant, which started production last year and ramped up faster than expected, reducing the country’s dependence on white sugar imports.

(Source: Reuters)

(Cooking oil image via Shutterstock)

KRG Ministers and officials participated on Wednesday at the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) London Business Forum on United Kingdom – Kurdistan Region of Iraq: Business Opportunities and Knowledge Transfer. The forum was organised by IBBC in collaboration with the Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce, and sponsored by Genel Energy and UB Group.

The event, held at Dartmouth House in Mayfair and hosted by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, IBBC Chairman and UK trade Envoy for Iraq, included sessions on Higher Education and Healthcare, and Business with Iraqi Kurdistan.

Thirty five Kurdish businessmen and officials attended the forum, including Dr Pistiwan Sadiq, KRG Minister of Education, and Dr Yusuf Goran, KRG Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, both of whom spoke during the opening session. Dr Dara Jalil Khayat, President of Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry, was also in attendance and addressed the audience during the opening session. The event was covered by Kurdish media network Rudaw TV.

Representatives of British and Kurdish Universities had the opportunity to discuss potential ways of cooperation. They highlighted the fact that there is a growing student population that want and need to get the right tools to be employable in the future and British education is, in many cases, their preferred choice. The University of Wolverhampton and Kingston University, both IBBC members, participated in this panel discussion and will be hosting delegations of Kurdish businessmen and officials this week.

Healthcare was another central theme of the forum, with Dr Atia Al Salihy, Former Health Adviser to the KRG Prime Minister, pointing out that the key issue to tackle in the present financial crisis in healthcare and other sectors is the efficient spending of public funds.

Members of the Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry talked to the audience about the diverse resources that could be developed in their region, whilst the British Chambers of Commerce delegate, Suren Thiru, encouraged the KRG to set up businesses in the UK.

The British Consul General to the KRI, Angus McKee, emphasised this two-way investment cycle and assured participants that there is a lot of interest from British companies to keep working in Iraqi Kurdistan.

(Source: IBBC)