By John Lee.

Business leaders in Jordan have reportedly welcomed increased access to Iraq’s $88.2-billion reconstruction efforts.

According to a report from Jordan Tmes, a recent agreement to grant Jordanian construction contractors equal status to their Iraqi peers was described as “a God-sent miracle” by engineer and board member of the Jordan Construction Contractors Association (JCCA) Abdel Haleem Bustanji.

It has only been two days since we signed the agreement, but I already received calls about the necessary papers. Contractors are thrilled to be working again,” he added.

Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi received King Abdullah II of Jordan in Baghdad on Monday, to discuss improving relations between the two countries.

More here.

(Sources: Jordan Tmes, Media office of the Prime Minister)

By John Lee.

King Abdullah II of Jordan arrives in Baghdad today on an official visit to Iraq for talks with President Barham Salih, and Prime Minister Adil Abd Al Mahdi and senior officials, with a view to strengthening bilateral relations and regional development.

According to a report from The Arab Weekly, the two countries are planning a border industrial zone with a possible 50,000 jobs. It would also facilitate exports of tax-exempted Jordanian goods to the Iraqi market.

In recent weeks, the two countries have agreed a series of measures to increase cooperation between the two countries, including a plan to finalize the framework agreement for the Iraqi-Jordanian pipeline which will run from Basra through Haditha to Aqaba in the first quarter of 2019.

They have also agreed to upgrade the al-Karamah – Terbil Border Crossing.

(Sources: Govt of Iraq, The Arab Weekly)

By John Lee.

Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi and Jordan’s Prime Minister Dr. Omar Razzaz have agreed a series of measures to increase cooperation between the two countries.

Following a meeting at the weekend, they announced that, among other steps, they will finalize the framework agreement for the Iraqi-Jordanian pipeline which will run from Basra through Haditha to Aqaba in the first quarter of 2019.

The full (unedited) list of measures outlined in their joint statement is shown below:

In the transport sector:

  • Opening the Jordanian-Iraqi border crossings (Al Karama-Trebil) in front of the (door to door) traffic to start the journey of goods that are perishable on 2-2-2019 and include all types of goods thereafter.
  • Granting facilities for imported Iraqi goods via Aqaba, whose final destination is Iraq, a discount of 75% of the fees charged by Aqaba Economic Authority.
  • Make an Agreement between the Royal Jordanian and Iraqi Aviation for mutual cooperation in various fields: (Code share).
  • Training and cooperation in all areas of aviation and air transport.

In the industry and trade sector:

  • Activating the Iraqi Cabinet decision for the year 2017 exempting a number of Jordanian goods from customs starting from 2-2-2019.
  • The two councils of the two countries decided to allocate the agreed land on the Iraqi-Jordanian border to reach a depth of 2 km on the two sides of the border and a length of 6 km for the Iraqi-Jordanian Company. By 2-2-2019, in preparation for the company’s presentation of the industrial zone to the private sector for operation and management on the basis of BOT.

In the financial sector:

  • Forming a technical and financial legal committee between the two sides to develop solutions to the outstanding financial files between the two countries.

In the energy sector:

  • The agreement was reached on the Jordanian-Iraqi electricity link through the network of interconnection, where the memorandum of understanding was signed in the presence of the prime ministers, in which the parties agreed to take the necessary measures to accelerate the exchange of electrical energy between the two parties through direct electrical connection to the electricity networks of Iraq and Jordan.
  • It was agreed to finalize the framework agreement for the Iraqi-Jordanian pipeline which will extend from Basra through Haditha to Aqaba in the first quarter of 2019
  • It was agreed that the technical committees will arrive to determine the details of transportation and pricing for the export of Iraqi crude oil to Jordan before 2-2-2019.

In the agriculture sector:

  • Training in the fields of optimal use of water in the fields of aquaculture, water harvesting, seed propagation, biological control, the use of environmentally friendly pesticides and the training of Iraqi environmental police.

In the communications and IT sector:

  • It was agreed to pass the Iraqi Internet capacity from Jordan in 2019 to support Iraq build the infrastructure.
  • It was agreed on transport Jordan’s experiences in the field of the financial technology to brothers in Iraq.

(Source: Media Office of the Iraqi Prime Minister)

IOM and UNODC Sign Agreement with the Government of Jordan to Upgrade al-Karamah Border Crossing Point

In partnership with the Government of Jordan, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) signed an official partnership yesterday (10/12) to upgrade the al-Karamah border crossing point between Iraq and Jordan.

The project, funded by the European Union Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace (EU IcSP), also contributes to the stability and economic recovery in the region.

“Iraq has always been a key economic partner for Jordan and a significant market for Jordanian exports. The closure of al-Karamah border point over the past years has had a significant negative impact on Jordan’s manufacturing sector and on the Jordanian economy in general. The government is working tirelessly to restore the economic ties with this important country for the benefit of the two sides, and we hope that the rehabilitation of al-Karamah will constitute another building block in this effort,” said Dr Maria Kawar, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation.

Al-Karamah is the only official border crossing point between Iraq and Jordan. Closed in the summer of 2015, it reopened in August 2017 raising the prospect of an improved economy among traders and consumers. Long-lasting crises in Syria and Iraq forced the closure of the land borders with both neighbors, namely the direct route between the ports of Aqaba, on the Red Sea, and Basra, on the Arabian Gulf.

Before the closure of the borders, Iraq was one of the main trade partners of Jordan. In 2013, 178,573 commercial trucks used al-Karamah to enter Iraq from Jordan, and 173,788 entered Jordan from Iraq. Border closures considerably increased the price of imports and exports.

“Border crossing points facilitate trade and exchange between people and communities. This EU-funded project will share the EU approach on integrated border management and adapt it to the situation at the Jordan/Iraq border with a view to facilitate bilateral trade and the movement of people,” said Mr Andrea Matteo Fontana, European Union Ambassador to Jordan.

The project will allow for the construction of a joint building for all departments operating at al-Karamah that will ease procedures and shorten the waiting time for passengers, allowing authorities to process a higher number of passengers per day.

The security of the passengers and the Kingdom will continue to be at the centre of the operation, with enhanced trainings on document forgery detection and other techniques related to border management.

Communities at both sides of the border will benefit from the improved border crossing point.

“I am from al-Anbar and I study pharmacy in Amman. I used to pay around 200 dollars to fly to Baghdad, and then I had to take a bus to al-Anbar from the capital. With the border post re-opened, I save money and time, and I can come home more often,” one young student told IOM staff.

“Communities in remote border regions need additional support to take advantage of the opportunities and overcome the challenges associated to a border context. The project will contribute to revitalize the economy of Mafraq and al-Anbar regions that used to rely on the livelihoods directly or indirectly created by the movements through the border post, before its closure,” said Enrico Ponziani, Chief of Mission of IOM Jordan.

The project will also improve cargo control procedures to secure and facilitate trade with the extension of the UNODC/World Customs Organization Container Control Programme at the al-Karamah border crossing point, and the establishment of a Border Control Unit.

“UNODC’s contribution to this project is two-pronged. Firstly, it aims at further securing the Al Karamah-Turaibil border crossing by strengthening the capacity of Jordanian and Iraqi law enforcement agencies to prevent trafficking of illicit goods. Secondly, it serves to facilitate trade across the border by strengthening cooperation with the private sector and streamlining cargo clearance and control processes”, said Ms. Cristina Albertin, Regional Representative of UNODC.

(Source: IOM)

By John Lee.

Iraq and Jordan have signed a a military-security cooperation agreement.

The agreement aims to exchange expertise and information in the field of border protection, developing intelligence capabilities, joint military exercises, research and technology development, combating terrorism in various forms, training and development.

(Source: Iraqi Ministry of Defense)

Jordanian Prime Minister, Omar Razzaz, on Monday met with Iraqi Defence Minister, Irfan Hayali, to discuss the Jordanian-Iraqi relations.

Razzaz underlined the depth of the historic Jordanian-Iraqi relations and the keenness to enhance joint cooperation to serve the interests of both countries and their peoples.

The premier also pointed to the directives of His Majesty King Abdullah II to increase cooperation and integration between the two countries.

Hayali conveyed the greetings of Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, to the prime minister as well as his keenness to cooperate in all civil and military fields.

He pointed to the importance of the agreement signed yesterday between the two countries on military and security cooperation, exchange of expertise and information in the field of border protection, capacity development, and combating terrorism.

The meeting also dealt with the Turaibeel border crossing and the need to focus on promoting trade and investment exchange and establishing a joint industrial zone near the border between the two countries.

(Source: Petra)

The National Bank of Iraq (NBI) has become the latest member of the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC).

In a statement, the IBBC said it is delighted to welcome one of Iraq’s preeminent private sector banking organisations to join its growing financial and professional services sector table.

NBI was founded in 1995 as a publicly traded, private sector company offering comprehensive banking services to individuals and businesses. NBI’s paid up capital was increased to IQD 250 Billion (USD 215 million) in December 2013.

NBI has been consistently growing in size and capabilities to serve Iraqi citizens with the highest quality financial services. NBI’s strategy revolves around offering a unique value proposition to multinationals and large corporates looking for professional commercial banking services in Iraq, as well as a solid platform for individuals to interact with. As a Jordan based Group, they are able to offer global access to funds and a comprehensive set of banking services to facilitate banking needs on the ground.

NBI is constantly expanding and modernizing its branch and ATM network in Iraq and are currently the only bank that has a branch in North Rumaila (Basra) and are in the process of opening new branches in Kathimiyya and Jameela in Baghdad and a new technologically advanced branch in Basra. NBI is also heavily investing in advancing its electronic channels and overall technological capabilities in order further modernize the banking process and offer a seamless banking experience to their clients.

NBI offers full-fledged investment banking, wealth management and brokerage services through its sister companies in Jordan, UAE and Iraq. The UAE subsidiary acts as the main gateway for multinationals and GCC based clients looking to raise growth capital or connect with local partners and enter into joint ventures for business expansion or new projects across Iraq. NBI’s investment offering also includes a wide range of advisory services in M&A, investment structuring and debt raising or restructuring.

NBI is regulated by the Central Bank of Iraq and publicly traded on the Iraq Stock Exchange It implements stringent international anti-money laundering and compliance regulations, and is also one of the few banks in Iraq to implement International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), with PWC as its external auditor.

(Source: IBBC)

New pre-arrival clearance protocols and reduced terminal handling charges for containers in transit, mean that Jordan’s deep-water Aqaba Container Terminal (ACT), located on the Red Sea, is now a realistic alternative maritime gateway for Iraq-bound cargo, APM Terminals said in its press release.

Containers imported into Iraq will no longer have to be trans-loaded onto new trucks as they cross the Jordanian/Iraqi border.

“The Aqaba Container Terminal has been working hard over the years to develop a competitive gateway to Iraq,” says ACT Managing Director Steven Yoogalingam. “This will enhance the already strong Iraqi port system and gives the business communities of both countries a fantastic transportation system to better support economic development in the region.”

Ideally located, the ACT is 550km – or 36 hours by road – from the Iraqi border town of Traibil and 48 hours from Baghdad. This development comes as the volume of Iraqi imports experience rapid growth – 86% last year alone.

The ACT is a joint venture between ADC, the Jordanian Government’s development arm for the Aqaba Special Economic Zone, and APM Terminals, which manages the facility. It is the second–busiest container facility on the Red Sea after Jeddah (Saudi Arabia).

A terminal expansion project completed in 2013 added 460 meters to the existing quay to create a total length of 1 km and increased the annual container throughput capacity to 1.3 million TEUs.

Iraqi imports grew by 86% in 2017 to $36.5 billion – the leading sources being China, Turkey, Iran, South Korea and the United States, with food, medicine and manufactured goods the primary products.

(Source: APM Terminals)

By John Lee.

Iraq could transport up to a million barrels of oil per day through the Jordanian port of Aqaba (pictured), according to a report from The National.

Ali Nazar Faeq Al Shatari, deputy director general for the State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) told The National:

“That project is still in place and we’re going to go ahead with it. We need another outlet for our crude oil,”

There has been little detail on the scheme’s timeline for completion or the scope of the project.

More here.

(Source: The National)

By John Lee.

A new report from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy says that Iraqi hydrocarbons “will either be exploited by Iran and its allies or used for Iraq’s own benefit, transforming the country into an energy export hub between the Gulf states, Turkey, and Europe. The United States has a strong strategic interest in promoting the latter outcome.

Authors James F. Jeffrey, a former US ambassador to Iraq and Turkey, and Michael Knights, who has worked extensively on energy projects inside Iraq, suggest that the US should put its weight behind a north-south energy corridor in which Iraq serves as an energy hub between ever-friendlier Gulf states and Turkey, ultimately forming an export bridge to Europe.

They add that Washington should also support the Basra-Haditha-Aqaba pipeline project to bring Iraqi oil and gas to Jordan.

The full paper can be read here.

(Source: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy)