Iraq in 2015 …

Iraq in 2015 …

The year just gone by has been a exceptionally difficult one for Iraq, as it attempts to tackle the misery being spread by the so-called Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL), while at the same time managing the effects of a dramatic fall in the price of oil.

But without diminishing the enormity of these challenges, let’s not forget that 2014 also saw the successful exercise of democracy in the country with a general election, and the first stage of a resolution to the oil export dispute between Baghdad and Erbil.

As we start into 2015, the new government of Dr Haider Al-Abadi enjoys the goodwill of the international community, much of which is providing essential military and humanitarian assistance.

Having welcomed in a new year, many of us will have hopes and dreams for the twelve months ahead. What are your hopes for Iraq in 2015, and what are your predictions for the state of the country one year from now? Whatever your connection with Iraq, we’d love to read your opinions in the comments section below.

With another challenging but potentially rewarding year to come, all of us at Iraq Business News wish all Iraqis at home and abroad a happy, peaceful and prosperous 2015.

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Budget 2015 “Needs Serious Revision”

Budget 2015 “Needs Serious Revision”

Iraqi State Budget 2015- It Deserves Careful Reading But Needs Serious Revision

By Ahmed Mousa Jiyad.

The first reading of the draft law for budget 2015 by the Federal Parliament was done on 25 December at a presence of only 229 members of the Parliament. According to the parliamentary procedure the first reading entail reading the full text of the draft law without discussing or debating its contents.

The draft law was referred to the Finance and Legal Committees of the Parliament for examination and prepare opinion that would be delivered during the second reading.

The parliament adjourned and will reconvene on 7 January 2015.

Until the commencement of the second reading the above two Committees, other parliamentarians, experts and interested public have to examine thoroughly the draft budget and express opinion before tabling the draft law for voting and adoption.

Please click here to download Ahmed Mousa Jiyad’s full report.

Posted in Ahmed Mousa Jiyad, Blog, Oil & Gas2 Comments

A Year of Iraq’s Best Bloggers

A Year of Iraq’s Best Bloggers

2014 has been a stellar year for our dedicated panel of Expert Bloggers.

As we draw the year to a close, our newsletter this week highlights just some of their contributions from the previous twelve months.

We’d like to thank all of them, and our Guest Bloggers, for their expert analysis and comment, and we look forward to more of the same in the year to come.

As always, you can count on Iraq Business News to give you the inside track!

All at Iraq Business News would like to wish all our readers, advertisers, staff and well-wishers every happiness of the Season.

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No Excuse for Excessive Holidays

No Excuse for Excessive Holidays

By Padraig O’Hannelly.

A recent report from Al Monitor highlights the shocking number of official and unofficial holidays in Iraq, and the affect that this is having on commercial activity and education. But that’s just part of the picture.

Due to its plentiful oil reserves, many would consider Iraq to be an example of a rentier state, whose main function is to distribute the profits from exported natural resources.

It might sound like a good deal, but at current oil prices Iraq will have difficulty balancing its budget if it also wants to defeat the Islamic State and continue with its program of building houses and developing infrastructure.

Over-staffing in the public sector and excessively generous public holidays will not help the country achieve those objectives.

With the amount of work still to be done in Iraq, the abundance of its natural resources is no excuse for allowing its human resources to lie idle.

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Posted in Blog, Employment, Industry & Trade, Oil & Gas1 Comment

Iraq Britain Business Council: Accentuating the Positive

Iraq Britain Business Council: Accentuating the Positive

By Robert Tollast.

Luay al-Khairullah has reason to be optimistic. As Chairman of the Dhi Qar Provincial Investment Commission, I spoke to him last year about the planned Nasiriyah Integrated Project (NIP) a 300,000 barrel a day capacity refinery not far from his home town.

It’s a project that will create much needed jobs and provide cheaper fuel for Iraqis.

The NIP is just one of several vital strategic projects for Iraq, some progressing such as the multi billion dollar Grand al Faw port project and the Karbala refinery (a Hyandai led project).

Other projects are still in the blueprint stage. Zaha Hadid’s avant garde design for a new Central Bank of Iraq is one such audacious project, and many more are in the pipeline- Iraq’s second biggest resource is surely ambition.

But Dr.al Khairullah’s humble, quiet demeanor quickly turned to near excitement when I mentioned the possibility of greater tourism in Iraq’s famous southern marshes.

This was “already being prepared for” and soon the province was planning an international showcase for the many sites to visit in the south such as the iconic Sumerian Ziggurat, the Mudhifs of the ancient Marsh Arab culture and the museums of antiquities.

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Iraq — Accentuating the Positive

Iraq — Accentuating the Positive

By Padraig O’Hannelly.

Yesterday in London, the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) held its annual conference, this year under the banner: “Iraq — Accentuating the Positive“.

And in contrast to the prevailing media depiction of Iraq, the tone was indeed very positive, with a full house of senior executives, diplomats and public officials sharing their views and experiences of business in Iraq.

The following sound-bites will give you a small taste of the mood of the event:

We are very encouraged by the new cabinet team … the first words that [Prime Minister Abadi] said to me are ‘we want to remove everything that gets in the way of you delivering your projects’.

Hans Nijkamp, Vice President and Country Chairman for Shell in Iraq.

We have faith in the future of Iraq, both in the polity and … the market.

Nick Archer, Managing Director, Policy and Network Developent, UKTI.

“We want British companies and other international companies to come and participate in the reconstruction of Iraq.

Dara al Rasheed, Deputy Minister for Housing and Construction.

But as ever, the availabilty of visas remains a problem, both for companies wishing to bring people into Iraq, and for Iraqis intending to visit the United Kingdom. This was highlighted by many speakers, and is clearly still an obstacle to trade and development.

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Haider al Abadi: Bringing Strategy to the Table

Haider al Abadi: Bringing Strategy to the Table

By Robert Tollast.

“How is electricity?”, I asked. “Excellent” replied Marwan, a young student of Physics at the University of Dhi Qar. Marwan (not his real name) is studying wireless transmission, and one of his lecturers is currently in Leicester studying with a British Council initiative to bolster the academic capacity of Iraqi universities.

Will Marwan’s lecturer return to find his university campus an empty bullet scarred shell? This might have been the case in southern Iraq in the spring uprising of 1991, or in 2003 as US Marines fought through the town of Nasiriyah.

Today, across the Kurdish region of Iraq and many areas of the expansive south, violence is often in the forefront of peoples’ minds, but this is mostly because Iraq is a nation at war. Countless Iraqis have volunteered to fight ISIL in what must surely seem like another tragic episode in a long, tragic history.

Incredible as it may seem, the war is actually quite far away for approximately 7 million Iraqi Arabs and Kurds. And their local leaders have set their sights on business, as much as the war on ISIL. Of course, local momentum isn’t much without a coordinating strategy at the national level. For the first time in decades, Iraq might have found the man to coordinate such a strategy.

Nonetheless, there can be no doubt that since June this year Iraq has confronted an existential crisis. But it is a crisis that Iraq can survive. And while it would be naive if not impossible to gloss over the tragedy that Iraq is enduring, we need to look at the whole country – a country almost the size of France, to get the full picture.

We could even allow a little room for optimism, firstly because there are vast, heavily populated areas of Iraq that are effectively walled off from ISIL. These areas host the country’s only “skyscraper” style office buildings, expanding ports and the super giant oil fields that are crucial for supporting the global economy.

A second reason for a modicum of hope is that in the centre and north of the country, ISIL are being challenged by a growing (albeit peculiar) coalition. History shows us that strange coalitions are not barred from victory. On the contrary, they are essential to victory.

In terms of the geographical limits to this current terrorist blitzkrieg, think of Stalin’s tank factories that were located east of Moscow, out of reach of Hitler’s bombers, or Washington in 1864, impregnable to Confederate assaults.

Basra and Nasiriyah are similarly insulated from terrorist activity, and as long as this situation remains Iraq will probably weather this storm. The Iraqi army’s recent victory at Jurf al Sakhar is solid evidence that if anything, the approaches to the south are looking more secure than ever.

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Survey Results – State of Iraq 2014

Survey Results – State of Iraq 2014

Throughout August 2014, Iraq Business News polled readers for their opinions on the state of Iraq.

As expected, the results indicate a more challenging environment in the country over the preceding year.

But while the sample size and methodology do not allow us to claim statistical significance, the results tend to show a long-term commitment to Iraq as a place to do business – less than half of respondents expect to reduce their exposure to Iraq in the coming year, with 36 percent expecting to invest more.

It is important to note that this poll was taken before the successful appointment of the new cabinet, and before the escalation of airstrikes against the Islamic State, and so may be more a reflection of past concerns than of current hopes for the future.

As “a picture is worth a thousand words”, we’ve put our results in a helpful infographic format that we hope you will find useful

IBN Infographic

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Posted in Blog, Industry & Trade, Oil & Gas, Security1 Comment

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