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

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Core Views

  • Risks of a return to full-blown civil war are elevated following the takeover of jihadist group Islamic state (IS) of the country's north and west.

  • Robust headline growth of the Iraqi economy in 2015 will result from accelerating oil exports. Conversely, 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.

Major Forecast Changes

  • Iraq's current account surplus will narrow significantly in 2015 as declining oil prices will hit the value of hydrocarbons exports. We forecast Iraq's current account to come in a deficit of 6.8% of GDP in 2015, from our previous forecast of a surplus of 4.5...

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Iraq Operational Risk Coverage (9)

Iraq Operational Risk

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BMI View: Iraq represents huge potential for trade and investment. Simply put, Iraq is potentially one of the world's naturally wealthiest nations and has until recently exhibited 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 32.7 out of 100 places it in 16 thposition out of 19 countries in the region, slightly ahead of Syria and Yemen.

Iraq has created many incentives designed to foment investment in the region, and scores reasonably well with regard to initiating commercial ventures or branching businesses into Iraq. However, there are...

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Iraq Crime & Security

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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...

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Iraq Labour Market

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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. Iraq is therefore ranked 14 thout of 19 states...

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Iraq Logistics

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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...

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Iraq Trade & Investment

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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...

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Iraq Industry Coverage (9)

Autos

Iraq Autos

Defence & Security

Iraq Defence & Security

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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...

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Infrastructure

Iraq Infrastructure

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BMI View : Iraq's construction industry is being severely affected by the poor security situation, with the Islamic State (IS) insurgency even affecting business sentiment in the Kurdish region, the once-considered relatively safe haven and primary investment destination. After failing to agree on a budget for 2014, the new parliament has approved one for 2015. However, it has been greatly limited by the falling oil price and the diversion of funds to security, meaning in the short term that infrastructure development will not likely receive the full state backing it requires. Meanwhile, the poor business and operational environment will...

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Medical Devices

Iraq Medical Devices

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BMI Industry View: We forecast that the medical device market will experience moderate growth. A lack of healthcare facilities, the instability of the political environment and declining oil prices are likely to affect the competitiveness of the market. As there is very little domestic production, the market is heavily reliant on imports, which have experienced strong growth in recent years but declined in Q414, while the level of exports is very low.

Headline Industry Forecasts

  • In spite of robust growth in recent years,...

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Mining

Iraq Mining

Oil & Gas

Iraq Oil & Gas

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BMI View: Pragmatic relations between Erbil and Baghdad have enabled oil exports from the North of Iraq to ramp-up over 2015. We have slightly increased our oil production forecast for 2015 to 3.59mn b/d, though remain cautious about a lasting revenue sharing agreement, the continued threat of Islamic State and major investments in Iraq in a weak oil price environment.

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

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Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare

Iraq Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare

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BMI View: Iraq's attractiveness as a pharmaceutical market is highly dependent on the security situation in the country. With the Islamic State (IS) negatively impacting healthcare access in the northern states, Iraq's pharmaceutical market appeal to foreign investors has weakened. With IS expected to remain resilient in the north in the short term, we highlight Iraq offers a difficult operating environment for drugmakers.

Headline Expenditure Projections

  • Pharmaceuticals: IQD2,015bn (USD1.70bn) in 2014 to IQD2,229bn (USD1.80bn) in 2015; +10.6% in local currency and +6.4% in US dollar terms. Forecast upgraded from Q115 due to the availability of new trade data....

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Telecommunications

Iraq Telecommunications

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BMI View: Iraq's telecoms market offers a mix of great opportunity and heavy risks. The country's large population and a penetration rate still below 100% underpin our generally positive growth outlook for the country's telecoms sector between 2015 and 2019. Meanwhile, we expect Zain and Asiacell's launch of 3G services at the start of 2015 to be met with strong demand from businesses and consumers alike, and to offset the negative impact of the volatile security situation on their businesses. The arrival of 3G will also drive growth in Iraq's underserved and stagnating broadband market. However, Islamic State continues to occupy a large area of the country, which will keep operational costs high and...

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Water

Iraq Water

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BMI View: We have substantially expanded our forecasts this quarter, and now cover water extraction by source, including desalination, household water consumption, households connected to mains networks, and water losses. We expect the majority of our forecasted indicators to see a substantial decline over 2015 in the wake of IS' continued targeting or water facilities, and do not anticipate a full recovery until the end of our forecast period. However, 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. Should the conflict continue beyond the end of 2015, this will represent a further downside risk.

ISIS now 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...

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Latest Iraq Articles

Latest Iraq Blogs

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