By John Lee.

Iraq’s Minister of Finance has directed the Agricultural Cooperative Bank to postpone the payment of debts owed by farmers for a period of two years.

Dr. Ali Allawi (pictured) said:

“Based on Article Thirteen of the Food Security Law, it was decided to postpone for a period of two years the collection of government debts owed by farmers and farmers who wish to postpone the payment of loans and whose loans do not exceed 400 million dinars from the loans of the Agricultural Bank and the Agricultural Initiative in all governorates of Iraq.”

He added that no interest will be charged during the postponement period.

(Source: Media Office of the Minister of Finance)

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Source: Iraq News

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The President and Chairman of the Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) has said that he expects it will be “a number of years” before payment processing services such as Paypal and Stripe will be able to operate in Iraq.

Responding to a question from Iraq Business News (IBN) at the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC)‘s recent Spring Conference in London, Dr Salem Chalabi added:

“Next year the Iraqi banking sector is going to be analysed by the Financial Action Task Force [FATF], and … one of the key conditions will be to get positive feedback from the FATF. Then we will hopefully be able to get clearer timing for something like this.”

Entrepreneurs in Iraq frequently complain about the difficulties in accessing international e-commerce services and platforms, and say that this limits the creation of new businesses in the country.

The FATF is the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog. The inter-governmental body sets international standards that aim to prevent these illegal activities and the harm they cause to society.

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Source: Iraq News

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Diebold Nixdorf deploys new ATMs in Iraq

Diebold Nixdorf has announced that Al Qurtas Islamic Bank is the first to deploy its DN Series ATMs in Iraq.

The bank’s ATMs will be monitored by Vynamic View software to detect and prevent downtime, optimize performance and reduce costs for the bank.

Sara Ahmad, chief executive officer at Al Qurtas Islamic Bank, said:

“We are proud to be the first financial institution in Iraq to deploy the new ATM technology and look forward to providing innovative services to our customers.”

Habib Hanna, managing director, Middle East, at Diebold Nixdorf said:

“We are thrilled that Al Qurtas Islmaic Bank chose to install DN Series as its first ATMs.”

The project services and implementation are being provided by Offtec Iraq.

(Source: Diebold Nixdorf)

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Source: Iraq News

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Fitch Rates Iraq's RTB Bank 'CCC+'

By John Lee.

Fitch Ratings has assigned the Erbil-based Region Trade Bank for Investment and Finance Private Shareholding (RTB) a Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of ‘CCC+’, and Viability Rating (VR) at ‘ccc+’.

It says the privately-owned bank has minimal market shares in Iraq, no competitive advantages and limited distribution capabilities.

More here.

(Source: Fitch Ratings)

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Source: Iraq News

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IBBC hosts largest ever Spring Conference

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) hosted the largest attendance for their Spring conference at the Mansion house on 24th May, with just under 300 attendees, half of whom came from Iraq.

Widely considered a success, the overall theme was ‘sustaining economic growth in Iraq’, There were multiple panels and roundtable sessions; including four panels focused on Finance and Energy, and additional themes of Education and Skills, Future Tech, Privatisation and a Kurdish ministerial roundtable with full attendance at all.

The conference was opened by Baroness Nicholson, president of IBBC.

Notable speakers included the Governor of the central bank H.E Mr. Mustafa Ghalib Mukheef, the Governor of Kirkuk, H.E. Mr Rakan Aljoubouri, the Chairman of the Trade Bank of Iraq, Dr Salem Chalabi and H.E. Dr Dara Rasheed, Minister of Planning, Kurdish Regional Government, and Mr Louis Taylor, CEO of UKEF, while Lord Howell gave an insightful and powerful speech on energy provision and the continuing importance of oil and gas distribution and production, especially in the light of Russian aggression. Professor Frank Gunter offered his paper for privatisation to a packed room. Dr Luay Al Khateeb, Distinguished Fellow Columbia University, chaired the Energy Transition session alongside with panellist from BP, Shell, GE and Oilserv.

The Rasmi AL Jabri award to the most outstanding, well run, professional Iraqi company engaged with the UK and international business from Iraq, was awarded to The Sardar Group and accepted by Mr Sardar Al Bebany from Rasmi’s son and Baroness Nicholson.

Delegates came from all regions of Iraq, including KRI, Basra and Baghdad, with chambers of commerce, leading Iraqi businesses, and private investors and business- people engaged and supplying IBBC corporate members.

Principal sponsors included the Iraq private banking league, who brought 20 banking members, gold sponsors – The Sardar Group and Hydro C and Bronze sponsors – GE.

The Conference was also made available online and a recording of the Tech forum is available here.

(Source: IBBC)

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Source: Iraq News

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By John Lee.

The Iraqi Minister of Finance has said that Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) reserves are expected to exceed $90 billion by the end of 2022, a new record for the country.

Addressing the Iraqi Cabinet, Ali Allawi (pictured) said thatthe recovery in oil prices and prudent financial management helped boost reserves to $70 billion dollars by April.”

He added that devaluation of the Iraqi dinar led to the preservation of foreign currency reserves after the “critical levels” reached in late 2020, saying the depreciation of the Iraqi dinar against the US dollar in December 2020 contributed to the decline of demand for the US dollar, and while the current demand for the dollar is higher than the declines seen in 2020, it is much lower than the period before 2020.

(Source: Ministry of Finance)

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Source: Iraq News

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By John Lee.

The Director of the Credit Department at the Agricultural Cooperative Bank of Iraq, Hussein Hekmat Al-Ghabban, has said that loans of up to 3 billion dinars ($2 million) are available to farmers to support a range of agricultural and livestock projects.

In a promotional video circulated by the Government of Iraq, he said the loans are funded by an initiative of the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI).

Loans of 250 million dinars or more will require a feasibility study and will need approval from the Director General and a “higher committee“.

He added:

“All projects have the same priority. We do no differentiate between one project and another. Any project that advances the industrial sector is regarded as important.”

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

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Source: Iraq News

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Central Bank of Iraq increases Capital

By John Lee.

The Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) has reportedly announced an increase in its capital.

State-owned Iraqi News Agency (INA) said that the capital will be increased from 3 trillion dinars (approximately $2 billion) to 5 trillion dinars.

It quotes the media office of CBI as saying that the increase was made using part of the profits achieved by CBI in 2021.

(Source: INA)

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Source: Iraq News

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Canada Increases Support to Iraq

Canada reaffirms its commitment to Iraq’s stabilization with new CAD 10 million support

The Government of Canada has pledged an additional CAD 10 million (approximately US$ 7.8 million) to support the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq as it works to accelerate stabilization efforts and boost sustainable livelihoods across western Anbar and Ninewa.

Canada’s generous contribution will be channelled through UNDP’s flagship programme, the Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS), established in 2015 to fast-track stabilization efforts in areas liberated from Daesh. To date, Canada has provided over US$ 39.6 million, including supporting UNDP’s COVID-19 response package to the Government of Iraq.

Focusing on young people and women, the funding will prioritize skills development and training, small grants for new enterprises and start-ups, and the rehabilitation of damaged houses to enable the safe and dignified return of hardest to return population groups.

With FFS transitioning in 2023, UNDP will also use the contribution to build the capacity of the Government of Iraq, allowing it to leverage existing structures and processes to ensure remaining needs are met quickly and to the highest standards.

“We are extremely grateful to the Government of Canada for this generous contribution which will safeguard the hard-won stabilization gains made since 2015. Our strong and continuous partnership will give women and young people greater financial independence by providing more jobs, more opportunities and practical skills training,” says UNDP Resident Representative in Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad.

“The emphasis on building infrastructure and rebuilding homes that prioritize the needs of women and girls is equally important. Thanks to support from Canada and the international community, UNDP will continue to deliver at high speed, scale and quality,” adds Ms Ali Ahmad.

“The Funding Facility for Stabilization continues to deliver projects that are critical to supporting the transitions between humanitarian, peace, and development efforts in Iraq,” says the Canadian Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq, Gregory Galligan. “Canada’s latest contribution reinforces our commitment to stabilizing areas liberated from Daesh, and ensuring that gender equality is a cornerstone of those efforts.”

With the support of 30 partners and the Government of Iraq, the FFS has completed over 3,100 projects in areas liberated from Daesh. This has facilitated the dignified and safe return of over 4.8 million Iraqis to their communities of origin, where they hope to restart their lives.

(Source: UN)

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Source: Iraq News

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Meet Top Iraqi Officials at IBBC Conference

Hear Iraq’s principal ministers and financiers share their vision and policies for Energy, Finance and Educational sectors at IBBC’s Mansion House conference on 24th May.

Iraq is on the cusp of forming a new Government and is benefitting from high oil revenues and stability. The IBBC Spring conference is ideally timed for a potential new Government announcement with key players in both oil and finance speaking and sharing their vision of what policies and the future landscape lies in store for Iraq and the private sector.

Iraq is clearly open for business, and we can expect to hear strong indicators of where the economy and investment will be directed and how banks and government expect to achieve this.

Addressing the new government agenda of reforms, we have a panel dedicated to the Iraqi Government White paper, led by Dr Alaa, the executive director or the Prime Minister’s reform unit.

It is also expected that the Minister of Oil will announce several investment opportunities that will be discussed in a separate session after the energy panel during the afternoon

This is your opportunity to meet these confirmed speakers: the Minister of Oil H.E. Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismaael, the Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, H.E Mr. Mustafa Ghalib Mukheef, Ms Taif Sami, Deputy Minister of finance, the Minister of youth and sport H.E. Adnan Darjal Motar Al-Rubaye, and higher education, as well as a Dr Salem Chalabi, President & Chairman of the Trade Bank of Iraq and a delegation of Iraqi private banks. In addition, key IBBC members including BP country director Zaid Elysari, Shell, Total, GE, Siemens, KBR, SKA, Serco, Petronor and Petrofac, PWC, EY, Standard Chartered Bank, JP Morgan, TBI, SAP, Barclays, City and Guilds among many, and from the UK Government Mr Louis Taylor, director of UKEF are attending.

The overall theme will examine how Iraq can sustain economic growth going forward, through the significant speaker energy, finance and Insurance panels who will discuss this at length.

New topics include privatisation of state-owned enterprises at a round table discussion led by Prof. Frank Gunter with the participation of the Prime Minister’s Office, additionally, a special paper on the subject written by members of the IBBC Advisory Council will be launched on the day and form the backdrop of the discussion.

Panels on project finance and energy transition are included during the day.

Beyond these topics many companies will find ample opportunity to meet the key speakers, as well as network with large businesses in Iraq and UK during the conference and in separate sessions. IBBC constantly advocates for the opportunity of private business to change economies and this conference confirms the benefits business brings to Iraq.

Economic sustainability is not just confined to energy and finance sectors as the knock-on effect of an expanding economy is creating big demand for skilled employees across all sectors, an issue that will be addressed by the educational panel including MSelect, who’s Iraq employment report has shed great light on the unprecedented nature of skills and sectoral requirements and how they might be addressed.

IBBC are very proud to be holding, possibly our best conference and we hope those companies’ operating in Iraq and considering joining our council, will attend at this time of opportunity and evolution for Iraq’s economy to meet the people who are shaping its future.

Click here to register.

(Source: IBBC)

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