Iraq

In-depth country-focused analysis on Iraq's economic, political and operational risk environment, complemented by detailed sector insight

Iraq

Our comprehensive assessment of Iraq's operating environment and the outlook for its leading sectors are formed by bringing together a wealth of data on global markets that affect Iraq, as well as the latest industry developments that could impact Iraq's industries. This unique integrated approach has given us an impeccable track-record for predicting important shifts in the markets, ensuring you’re aware of the latest market opportunities and risks in Iraq before your competitors.

Country Risk

Iraq Country Risk

BMI View:

Core Views

  • Islamic State will remain well entrenched over the coming year, and Iraqi security forces (ISF) and its allies will focus on re-conquering Mosul and securing Anbar. Iraq will maintain formal unity within a fragile federalised state over the coming decade, with the Kurdish region retaining significant autonomy but not outright independence.

  • Iraq will remain in recession over 2016. Domestic expansion will be sluggish and uneven; consumer spending and capital formation will be hit hard by political instability, and declining oil prices will hinder the government's ability to prop up spending.

Key Risks

  • Sectarian tensions could increase even higher if Baghdad fails to reconstruct the Sunni territory it re-conquers from IS.

  • PM Haider al...

Iraq Operational Risk Coverage (9)

Iraq Operational Risk

BMI View:

BMI View: Iraq is one of the most unsafe locations in the world for foreign businesses and workers. The threat of terrorist activity, already high, has become severe since June 2014 as the extremist group, Islamic State, has vastly expanded its presence and operational abilities. Large areas of northern and western Iraq are now inaccessible for foreigners, and the group is also capable of launching devastating attacks in those regions where the government retains nominal control. Crime and sectarian violence pervades Iraqi society, and the Iraqi armed forces entirely lack the capacity to provide even basic security. Investors in the country must therefore ensure that property and personnel are protected at all times by private security guards, though even the tightest security measures will not mitigate the threat of an attack. Consequently, Iraq is ranked among the most dangerous countries globally in BMI's Crime...

Iraq Crime & Security

BMI View:

Iraq is one of the most unsafe locations in the world for foreign businesses and workers. An extremely strong threat of terrorist activity, crime, and violence pervades Iraqi society, and there is also an inefficacy and ineptitude on behalf of the Iraqi security forces to combat such threats and provide security to Iraqi civilians and foreign nationals travelling in Iraq. In the BMI Crime and Security Risk Index, Iraq has the third lowest score in the MENA region, and the fourth lowest globally, at 6.6 out of 100, placing it among the most dangerous countries in the world including Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria.

By far the biggest security risk affecting Iraq is the threat of terrorism. The resurgent terrorist groups that have been resourced and fuelled by the Syrian civil war have motivated themselves to vastly increase the number of violent attacks they carry out in Iraq over the past 18 months. This has culminated...

Iraq Labour Market

BMI View:

BMI View: The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 has caused a cascade of problems which have decimated the country's labour market. The education system suffered severe infrastructural damage, while many teachers and academics were killed or forced to flee. The current governmental and humanitarian crisis has further exacerbated the instability of the Iraqi labour conditions. Consequently, both access to schools and the quality of education is poor, lowering the overall skill level of the labour force. A lack of job creation has also resulted in high unemployment, while preventable diseases and unexpected injuries are highly likely to affect the workforce. The country's main mitigating factors are its large unskilled labour force and low employment costs, which benefit...

Iraq Logistics

BMI View:

Iraq is affected by several logistics risks, not least the unreliability of its electricity supply, the inadequacy of transport infrastructure, and the prohibitive cost of international trade. All of these factors increase the risk for investors and businesses looking to enter the Iraqi market. These risks are mitigated somewhat by the size of the Iraqi market, as it is forecast to grow strongly in its reconstructive phase following the 2003 incursion. Overall Iraq scores 41.8 out of 100 in BMI's Logistics Risks Index, placing it in 15th position regionally out of 19 countries. That it is sitting marginally above poverty-stricken Algeria and Yemen, and conflict-wracked Libya and Syria, is representative of the severity of the operational risks posed by Iraq's limited transport and utilities infrastructure and complex and costly trade bureaucracy.

The quality and extent of Iraq's transport infrastructure is erratic. The...

Iraq Trade & Investment

BMI View:

Iraq represents huge potential for trade and investment. It is currently generating up to IRD10bn a month from oil exports, a figure which could easily treble by the end of the decade. Further massive revenues are expected from Iraq's infant gas industry, which will recover IRD10 million of gas per day once the planned capture programme comes on stream in 2014. On top of this, Iraq has not even started to mine the rich mineral wealth beneath its deserts and mountains, including gold and platinum. Simply put, Iraq is potentially one of the world's wealthiest nations and already has one of the fastest growing economies. However, at present Iraq is one of the regional underperformers for Trade and Investment Risks, due to the lack of rule of law and weak financial sector. Its score of 31.2 out of 100 places it in 5 th lowest position out of 18 countries in the region, slightly ahead of neighbours Iran and Syria. However, Iraq could still be seriously...

Iraq Industry Coverage (9)

Autos

Iraq Autos

BMI View:

BMI View: Iraq's car market will only slowly return to growth, as the ongoing security concerns and low levels of private consumption mean there will just be a low base that results in a 2% increase in 2016.

Vehicle Sales
(2013-19)
f = BMI forecast. Source: Renault, BMI

Key Views

  • We do expect a return to positive sales growth in 2016, although this will be a relatively small increase of 2.0%.

  • ...

Defence & Security

Iraq Defence & Security

BMI View:

BMI expects the Iraqi defence budget to be worth USD25.7bn in 2015, which is a significant increase on the USD22.2bn expected by the end of 2014. Despite a slight improvement in the domestic situation on the previous quarter, as a result of international support to shore up the government and the security forces, BMI expects Iraq to be plagued with governance and security difficulties for the foreseeable future.

We have given Iraq an overall security risk rating of 27 for Q115. To us, it seems evident that Iraq's greatest security risk is terrorism, both domestic and international, leaving it with a score of mere 16 out of 100 for Q115. That said, we think that the country is also affected by wider interstate tensions occurring across the Middle East and that its weak governance and security architecture leaves the domestic scene vulnerable to the power play politics of external actors, Notably...

Infrastructure

Iraq Infrastructure

BMI View:

BMI View : The dire security situation and virtually non-existent public spending will deter investment in Iraq's construction sector in the near term. On a positive note, FDI is being promised for the future, especially in its hydrocarbons industry and gas pipeline infrastructure. Meanwhile, the project pipeline remains swollen with large residential developments, but the investment and operating environment make it exceptionally challenging to conduct business...

Medical Devices

Iraq Medical Devices

BMI View:

BMI View: We forecast that the market will experience moderate growth. The instability of the political environment, declining oil prices and a lack of healthcare facilities are likely to affect market competitiveness. As there is very little domestic production, the market is heavily reliant on imports, which have experienced strong growth in recent years but are declining in 2015.

Projected Medical Device Market, 2014-2019...

Mining

Iraq Mining

BMI View:

BMI View: The mining sector of the Middle East and North Africa will see strong growth in over the coming years, especially given easing sanctions on Iran. With low base effects, governmental will to increase non-oil revenues and significant resources it appears the region is set for strong growth. We highlight Turkey and Northern Iraq as key areas for growth. That said, the region will remain peripheral in the global mining sector as it continues to underperform due to political instability in much of the region.

The key issue in the Middle East's mining sector presently is Iran's ongoing negotiations with Western powers. Our core scenario is for sanctions to be eased from Q116 which will have be a game changer for the country's beleaguered mining industry...

Oil & Gas

Iraq Oil & Gas

BMI View:

BMI View: Powerful oil production growth realised in 2015 will come to an abrupt slowdown over the coming years as lower oil prices subdue the governments' ability to reimburse development costs. Natural gas imports from Iran from 2016 will play a significant role in meeting pent up demand from the power sector.

Headline Forecasts (Iraq 2013-2019)
2013 2014 2015f 2016f ...

Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare

Iraq Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare

BMI View:

BMI View: Iraq's pharmaceutical market will remain unattractive for multinational drugmakers over the medium term. The government is devoting a greater proportion of fiscal resources to strengthen Iraq's political and economic institutions, which are currently under an immense threat of collapse. This reflects volatile oil prices and the growing threat of Islamic State. This situation has created severe funding shortages to Iraq's healthcare sector, and many donor-funded health programmes have been forced to close, leaving a large number of citizens without access to urgently needed health services and medicines.

Headline Expenditure Projections

  • Pharmaceuticals: IQD1.89trn (USD1.59bn) in 2014 to IQD2.02trn (USD1.67bn) in 2015; +6.6% in local currency and +4.6% in US dollar terms....

Telecommunications

Iraq Telecommunications

BMI View:

BMI View: As BMI forecast in Q3 2015, the presence of IS in Iraq continues to be a major short-term challenge for mobile operators. However, in liberated cities such as Tikrit operators are beginning to report an improvement in ARPU and relatively better operating conditions. Political instability, compounded with lower oil prices, is also straining the consumer's ability to spend. Despite these challenges, we are positive on the long-term growth potential of mobile and 3G services, but remain sceptical on the substantial uptake of Mobile Financial Services, given regional trends in the...

Water

Iraq Water

BMI View:

BMI View: We expect the majority of our forecast indicators to see a substantial decline over 2015 in the wake of IS' continued targeting of water facilities, and we do not anticipate a full recovery until the end of our forecast period. Should the conflict continue or intensify, with IS destroying facilities as opposed to capturing them, then this poses a significant downside risk to our forecasts.

ISIS still controls or has a presence near a number of key river dam water supply facilities across Iraq, particularly those on the major Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which represent Iraq's key freshwater resources. We see this as a serious risk both to...

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