Investor’s Guide

 

30_7_2013

Dear Investor,

Investment opportunities in today's Iraq vary in terms of type, size, scope, purpose and sector structure… Investors will find the way open for them to establish, operate or develop projects that they want, and that will meet the diverse and growing needs of the Iraqi population.

The location of Iraq at the center of the world’s trade routes gives it a significant advantage combined with the diversity of unique natural resources that help provide a decent standard of living. This feature creates many opportunities for investors, suppliers, transporters, developers, producers, manufacturers and financiers who will find many tools that will help them build relationships and establish new projects, develop markets and establish mutually beneficial business connections.

In this document, we provide an overview of detailed information about Iraq and many economic indicators and laws that benefit the investor, how to invest in Iraq, and the privileges the investor earns. As we put this document at your disposal, we are pleased to know your opinions and suggestions, and we are pleased to work together to find ways that are constructive and fruitful to attract investors who want to positively contribute to the economic prosperity of Iraq and its people.

With sincere appreciation…

Dr. Sami Rauf al-Araji
Chairman of the National Investment Commission

INTRODUCTION

Iraq: Promising Investment Opportunities

Iraq is characterized by the presence of the requirements attracting capitals and investments, depending on the availability of natural resources such as oil and gas, human resources and lands in their various uses, as well as the large size of the Iraqi market and geographic location. These provide opportunities for the production, export and import. All the foregoing is represented in the existence of various elements that reflect the multiplicity and diversity of investment opportunities for various economic sectors.

In the face of the transformation witnessed by Iraq in its economic philosophy, the goals and reasons set out in Investment Law No. 13 for the year 2006 as amended may have contributed to the promotion of investment in terms of focusing on the need to bring in technical expertise and scientific support for the process of establishing investment projects in Iraq, expand and develop various fields and grant privileges and exemptions for these projects.

The legislating of investment laws has been done for the purpose of attracting and encouraging foreign investments in Iraq that are in line with the required goals, and it is now possible to get different guarantees.

I invite you to look at Iraq as one of the important places where there is such a size of investment opportunities in new fields. There is no sector in Iraq without an urgent need for investment. So, think of the great potentials and the markets of neighboring countries. More importantly, think of our real desire to welcome you in Iraq, and our desire to work together to bypass any obstacles.

Dr. Sami al-Araji

Any Qualified Investment Project will enjoy the Following Privileges and Guarantees:

  • Exemption from taxes and fees for a period of 10 years from the date of commencement of commercial operation.
  • Increase of the years of exemption from taxes and fees with the increase in the rate of participation of Iraqi investors for up to 15 years./li>
  • Hiring foreign workers when needed.
  • Getting customs exemptions for a period of 3 years for imported assets for the investment project.
  • Ensuring the non-confiscation or nationalization of the investment project covered by the provisions of the investment law, in whole or in part.
  • The foreign investor enjoys additional benefits according to international bilateral agreements between Iraq and his country or multilateral international agreements that Iraq had joined.

Nowadays, all Iraqis can take advantage of the resources and wealth of their country, but there are significant challenges facing the country in how to provide opportunities for investors to establish an economic investment partnership.

Among the basic objectives sought by the government are:

  • Rebuilding the economy in order to ensure a dignified way of life for all people.
  • Rebuilding roads, bridges, houses and the entire infrastructure.
  • Re-establishing water and energy sources.
  • Developing the oil and gas fields and the infrastructure of oil pipelines, refineries and the oil derivatives industry.
  • The stability in Iraq will make winning all these goals and long-term projects achievable.

The Main Factors that Support this Stability are:

  • Sgnificantly improved levels of security make it possible for foreign businesspeople to travel safely all over the country.
  • Stronger Iraqi security forces and government guarantees provide long- term security for businesses.
  • Successful elections in Iraq have demonstrated the gradual rooting of the democratic process.
  • Economic stability, with a successful policy of limiting inflation, is delivering high rates of annual growth.

A fundamental shift is occurring in Iraq. For over 30 years, Iraq was a highly centralized economy with little investment from the private sector. Today the country and economy are transitioning to a market driven business environment with substantial potential for growth. The Iraqi government has publicly stated its need for the participation of foreign investors to achieve its objectives. Regulations, security, and incentives are in place. Iraq is now open for business.

Indicators of the Iraqi Economy

The Iraqi economy varies in terms of natural and human resources and spatial as well as its economic and sectoral structure representing an attractive economic environment for investors and this can be inferred through the following economic and social growth indicators:

Oil Sector

  • Oil plays a pivotal role in the development of the Iraqi economy due to its contribution to the gross domestic product, in at least 44% at fixed prices, earning more than 90% of fiscal revenue. So, the positive growth in oil production and higher prices will enable the government of Iraq to increase its investments in the areas of construction and reconstruction. This important economic resource will also help strengthen the balance of payments, offsetting the demand for imports as well as meeting domestic consumption requirements. Thus, it is the main engine of the country's economy.
  • Studies show that Iraq has about 530 potentially hydrocarbon-bearing geological structures, and there are strong indications of the presence of major quantities of oil, especially since among all these structures, only 115 have been explored, of which 71 are now proven to contain significant oil reserves.
  • Of the 71 discovered Iraqi fields, only 27 have been utilized for production, including 10 large fields.
  • Iraq has competitive capabilities and expertise in the field of industries associated with sulfur as well as the wide production of nitrogenous fertilizers and phosphate, in addition to reserves of silicates.

Table (1) shows some indicators of the oil sector for the year 2012

Daily average of oil production 3,250 million barrels / day
Daily average of oil export 2,500 million barrels / day
Confirmed oil reserves 143 billion barrels
Confirmed natural gas reserves 127 trillion cubic feet

Foreign Exchange statistics

Foreign assets at commercial banks and the Central Bank have recorded a remarkable rise in their values for the period (2008 - 2011), rising from 68,084,967 million dinars in 2008 to 82,948,706 million dinars in 2011, while the values of foreign liabilities fluctuated to become in 2011 about 3,929,605 million dinars. Thus, the net foreign assets recorded a rise from 68,082,923,054 million dinars in 2008, and then to 79,019,101 million dinars in 2011, reflecting the strength of the foreign assets available at the banking system and the monetary authority.

The table below illustrates the reality of foreign assets and liabilities for the period 2008 - 2011 in millions of Iraqi dinars.

Table (2) shows the foreign assets and liabilities for the period (2008-2011) Million Iraqi dinars

Year Total foreign liabilities Total foreign assets
2008 2,043,946 68,084,967
2009 5,767,829 67,910,770
2010 3,806,679 71,946,026
2011 3,929,605 82,948,706
2012 3,608,750 97,492,510
2013 3,679,416 112,787,829

* Source: Central Bank of Iraq - Annual Statistical Bulletin 2011

  • Interest Rates: The interest rates witnessed during the years 2005-2009 a remarkable rise, reaching 23% leading to a reduction of the areas of investment. Facing this situation, the monetary authority proceeded to cut this rate to about 6% for the subsequent years, prompting a push for the expansion in the field of investment. This measure turned into an incentive for domestic borrowing for investors to expand their activities and trends in the economic field and will enhance the process of economic development and economic stability.
  • Inflation Rates: Annual inflation rates exceeded 30% in 2007, but decreased to 2.4% in 2010 and rose again in 2011 to reach 5%. In 2012, inflation amounted to 6%, with the increase concentrated in the prices of food, goods and rent which consequently raised consumer prices, while in 2013 inflation reached 1.9% compared to 2012. In 2014, it was 2.2% mainly in transportation, cloths, housing and education.

30_7_2013

Demographic Trends and Economic Prosperity:

Iraq's population is estimated at about 34 million people (according to indicators of the Central Bureau of Statistics in the Ministry of Planning) and the population growth rate is at 2.5% per annum. Accordingly, Iraq is regarded as a promising and large market, and it significantly is supportive of investment. Reinforces this is the marked increase in the average per capita annual national income which is estimated at U.S. $ 5,000. This was the impetus to increase the demand for various goods and services. Thus, the composition and trends of investment activity in Iraq will grow and diversify.

  • Private investment presently grows significantly. There are ample opportunities for investment. Foreign Direct Investment is expected to increase during the period from 2009 – 2015.
  • The total workforce in Iraq is around 7 million workers (in the public and private sectors).
  • Key sectors are: oil, gas, electricity, housing, infrastructure, transport, health, industry, agriculture, communications, services, education and tourism.
  • The major agricultural products are: wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, dates and cotton.
  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed in December of 2004 to open negotiations on Iraq's membership of the organization. Iraq has been an observer member since February of 2004, and is carrying out advanced negotiations to gain full membership.
  • Despite the delay in Iraq’s implementation of modern communication and information technologies, it has made great progress in this field over the years 2004 – 2012. According to available statistics, the percentage of households that have a fixed telephone line has reached 5.1% compared with 94.3% of households that have a mobile phone. Meanwhile, the percentage of families that use satellite TV rose from 40% to 96% over the same period.

Investment Law No. 13 for the year 2006 as amended

In an effort by the government to attract private investments to Iraq, Investment Law No. 13 for the year 2006 was legislated and amended. This law was approved by the Iraqi Parliament in October 2006 and became effective in January 2007 in all sectors, except for investments in the production and extraction of oil and natural gas as well as investments in the banking and insurance sectors, with a minimum capital of the project being covered by the provisions of this law (U.S. $250,000) (two hundred and fifty thousand U.S. dollars) or its equivalent in Iraqi dinars.

The First Amendment to Investment Law No. 13 for the year 2006 was issued, and the most important in this amendment included:

  • Allowing non-Iraqis to own land exclusively for housing projects.
  • Extending the benefits of the Investment Law to strategic partnerships with public companies owned by the State.
  • Granting investment commissions in governorates that are not organized in a region a legal entity in order to enable them to perform their tasks more effectively.
  • Specifying lands owned by the state and restrict them to the disposal of the National Investment Commission for the purpose of allocating them for investment projects.

The Most Important Privileges and Guarantees in the Investment Law No. 13 of 2006, as amended:

  • Foreign investors have the right to repatriate capital brought to Iraq, as well as any profits earned, pursuant to the instructions of the Central Bank of Iraq, after paying all taxes and debts owed to the Iraqi Government and all other authorities.
  • Assets imported for an investment project are exempt from customs duties as long as they enter Iraq within three years of the licensing date.
  • Employing foreign labor when needed.
  • The right of insuring the investment project with any insurance company, Iraqi or foreign.
  • Opening accounts in Iraqi and foreign currency in Iraqi and non-Iraqi banks.
  • All foreign investors and non- Iraqi employees of licensed investment projects have the right to reside in Iraq as well as the right to unimpeded entry and exit from Iraq.
  • Foreign investors have permission to trade shares and bonds listed on the Iraqi Stock Exchange (ISX) and form investment portfolios.
  • Granting projects of hotels, tourist establishments, hospitals, health institutions and educational institutions additional exemptions from import duties on furniture and supplies for the purposes of modernization and renewal at least once every four years.
  • Allowing investors to lease land for a project for up to 50 years, subject to renewal.
  • All licensed projects are protected from any kind of expropriation or nationalization of any part of the project unless there is a legal sentence issued against the project.
  • non-Iraqis working for investment projects may transfer their salaries and other compensations outside Iraq after paying all taxes and debts owed to the Government of Iraq and all other authorities.
  • Any future amendment to this law will not have a retroactive effect on the guarantees and exemptions mentioned above.

Establishment of the National Investment Commission

Under Investment Law No. 13 for the year 2006, the National Investment Commission (NIC) was formed, as well as provincial investment commissions (PICs). The law allowed regions and provinces that are not organized in a region the right to form investment commissions in areas under their authority which enjoy the power to grant investment licenses, investment planning, encourage investment and open branches in areas under their control in consultation with the National Investment Commission.

Investment statute No. 2 for the year 2009 has been issued, which defined the functions of the National Investment Commission, defining its administrative structure and powers for strategic projects.

NIC Strategic Projects

The National Commission is charged with the formulation of a policy and strategy of national investment at the level of Iraq as a whole, develop plans and regulations and directives for the implementation of policies in place, and monitor the implementation of directives and regulations. The NIC was created to oversee projects at the federal and strategic levels. This responsibility was further defined in investment statute No. 2 (2009), namely:

  • Infrastructure projects with capital greater than $50 Million USD or equivalent in Iraqi Dinars (IQD).
  • Common projects between more than one region or province.
  • Projects related to the extraction of natural resources, other than limited by article 29 of the investment law.
  • Projects established under an agreement of which the Republic of Iraq is a party.
  • Engineering, mineral, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, manufacturing projects of various types of vehicles where the capital of each is greater than $50M USD or its equivalent in Iraqi dinars.
  • Projects relating to the development of archeological and historical sites.
  • Transportation projects such as roads, seaports, airports and railways with capital greater than $30M USD or its equivalent in IQD.
  • Power projects with capacity greater than 30 MW each.
  • Projects related to dams, reservoirs, and irrigation greater than 50M sq m.
  • Projects related to telecommunications.
  • Any project with capital greater than $1 Billion USD or its equivalent in IQD.
  • Any other projects deemed by the Cabinet to be of a strategic or federal nature.

All projects not on the strategic project list above fall under the authority of the PIC. For the purpose of the organization of their work, powers and administrative structures, the bylaw system for investment commissions in provinces not organized in a region are regulated by statute No. 3 for the year 2009 which restricted the forming of investment commissions in the provinces, the powers of their administrative councils and organizational structures.

For the purpose of encouraging investment in general and for housing projects in particular, and in order to enable investors to implement investment projects in Iraq, particularly the construction of housing units of various styles of housing, a statute has been issued for selling and leasing the State real estate and lands which is statute No. 7 for the year 2010 as amended; the most important of its contents are:

  • The National Investment Commission, for the purposes of housing, has the right to let land be owned by the investor free of charge, providing that the price of land shall not be calculated within the price of the residential unit sold.
  • Forming a committee within the National Investment Commission under its chairmanship in order to estimate the value of the state owned lands and real estate's for investment purposes which value is no more than U.S. $250 million.
  • Forming a committee in each provincial investment commission under the presidency of the Chairman of each PIC in order to estimate the value of the state owned lands and real estates for investment purposes which value is no more than U.S. $250 million.
  • The National Investment Commission specifies the lands required to implement multi-purpose urban residential cities.
  • The National Investment Commission leases the lands required for the implementation of commercial, industrial, agricultural, service, recreational and other investment projects.
  • The land lease is due from the date the commercial project starts operating.

Investor Commitments

The Commission grants an investment license based on the application submitted to it by the investor according to easy terms prepared by the Commission. The application submitted by the investor includes the following:

  • Filling the license application form available on NIC website.
  • Foreign investors must include a certificate of good standing from a certified bank.
  • Investors may include a list of projects completed both inside and outside Iraq.
  • Investors must provide details of the investment project, including an economic and technical feasibility study.
  • Investors must provide a timetable for executing the project.

Investment License Granting Services

Currently, the One Stop Shop department helps potential investors obtain investment licenses, and this assistance is expanded to include:

  • Potential projects:
    Coordination with relevant offices in the National Investment Commission and the relevant authorities to create a list of investment opportunities for strategic projects as well as small and medium ones.
  • Logistical Support:
    Supporting investors through:
    1. Providing investors with a market research and details about the economic climate.
    2. Directing investors to the centers and advisory authorities specialized in economic and technical feasibility studies.
    3. Facilitating the business visa application process that is required to visit Iraq as well as making hotel reservations and arranging for airport pickup and hotel transfers.
    4. Providing the information needed by investors about the Iraqi cities and the distribution of human and natural resources in the country.
  • Obtaining Approvals of Sectoral Entities:
    Works on obtaining approvals of the sectoral bodies for investment proposals, technical and financial feasibility studies submitted by investors within the legal time limit.
  • Promotion:
    Coordination with the public relations, promotion and publicity department on the presentation of investment opportunities for investors, as well as acquainting the local private sector with the foreign companies.

Procedures for Granting Investment License:

The One Stop Shop assists investors to obtain investment licenses through the procedures set forth in this illustrated chart: -

Investment Licensing Procedures: -

The NIC established the One Stop Shop department to help investors obtain investment licenses through the procedure shown below:

  • Investor submits a request to the NIC indicating a desire to invest, including the proposed investment sector and geographic area. This request shall be made via a standards form which is available from the NIC directly or on the NIC website (www.investpromo.gov.iq).
  • Provide a solid financing plan supported by a letter from an accredited bank supporting the investor's ability to implement the project and ensuring its completion in accordance with the specified time period.
  • Provide a preliminary economic feasibility study of the project and a technical offer showing the details of the project to be created.
  • A timetable for the implementation of the project
  • A list of similar completed projects inside or outside Iraq.
    After the completion of all the required documents as above, the National Investment Commission studies the request, according to what is explained above, and obtain the procedural approvals from the relevant authorities in order to grant the investment license during a period of 45 days from the date of the completion of the investor’s documents and submitting them to the Commission.

After obtaining the investment license, the investor should commit himself to the following:

  • Notifying the Commission, in writing, of the date of the commencement of the operation of the commercial project.
  • Investors must maintain proper accounting records. The investors must also have these records approved by a licensed Iraqi accountant.
  • Investors must keep a record of any import- fee- exempted items imported for the project. The records must specify the depreciation period of the said items.
  • Investors must not harm the Iraqi environment and must also adhere to all valid quality control systems in place in Iraq, as well as to international quality standards (International organization for standardization (ISO) and European Union (EU
  • Investors must, at minimum, adhere to Iraqi labor laws as they pertain to salaries, time off, work hours, and other stipulated working conditions.
  • Investors must, at minimum, adhere to Iraqi labor laws as they pertain to salaries, time off, work hours, and other stipulated working conditions.
  • Training of Iraqi employees and workers, and priority is to be given to the recruitment of Iraqi workers.

Legal Registration of Companies in Iraq

The Companies law No. 21 for the year 1997 as amended, and Regulation No. 5 for the year 1989, system of branches and offices of foreign companies and economic establishments, allow foreign companies to open a branch or an office inside Iraq by registering with the Ministry of Trade's companies registrar and obtaining a business ID number.

The Companies law No. 21 for the year 1997, and the Trade Act No. 30 for the year 1984, regulate all incorporations and trade activities for Iraqi businesses. For the purpose of the registration of a company in Iraq, whether its owner is Iraqi or a foreigner, the following steps must be completed:

  1. Determine what category the company in question belongs to, according to the Companies Law, No. 21, 1997. For more detail please visit:

    www.investpromo.gov.iq

  2. Fulfill all required registration procedures:
    1. Register a trade name with the relevant trade chamber or the union of trade chambers.
    2. Submit a contract signed by the founders of the company, stating the name of the company, its activities, and its capital.
    3. Deposit appropriate capital for the company, in IQD, at an authorized Iraqi bank and notify the Companies Registrar.
    4. Pay all fees required to register the company with the Companies Registrar. Please see http://www.motiraq.org/registration.aspx.
    5. For joint stock companies, submit the subscription certificate, signed by the founders, and the company's feasibility studies.
    6. For joint stock companies, submit the subscription certificate, signed by the founders, and the company's feasibility studies.
    7. For joint stock companies, submit the subscription certificate, signed by the founders, and the company's feasibility studies.
    8. For joint stock companies, submit the subscription certificate, signed by the founders, and the company's feasibility studies.
    9. Address of the commercial activity in Iraq
      As for the branches and offices of foreign companies, they are to be completed according to the system of branches and offices of foreign companies and economic establishments No. 5 for the year 1989 which permitted companies to open branches and representative offices in accordance with a mechanism contained in the system.
  3. After the company is founded:
    1. Employ a legal advisor (attorney) for the company from the Bar Association.
    2. Employ a chartered accountant form the Chartered Accountants and Auditors Association.
    3. Appoint an Executive Manager.
    4. Open a branch for the office or foreign company

Local Partnerships

AS the country continues to improve the environment that regulates investment and lays the foundations of political stability and security, there are expected benefits from the adoption of strategic partnership with local Iraqi partners. The local partners can get to know the dynamics of the market, deal with the regulatory requirements, provide labor and other inputs at competitive prices and the use of the previously established sales network as well as maintain necessary work relations with others, i.e. banking, legal and distribution…, these are important for the success of the investment project. Also, one can enter into partnerships with the public sector according to the provisions of Article 33/ B of the Investment Law No. 13 for the year 2006 as amended, and to the provisions of Article 15 of the General Companies Act No. 22 for the year 1997 as amended.

Iraq’s bilateral and multilateral agreements

Iraq is negotiating the signing of 32 bilateral agreements and 9 multilateral agreements with the Arab League and international organizations regarding the promotion and protection of investment. Moreover, there are bilateral agreements for free trade with India, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Mauritania, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Vietnam, Yemen, along with other countries. It has also contributed to the National Investment Commission in the negotiations of many projects of international agreements on the promotion and protection of investments as well as Iraq's access to the membership of some international organizations related to investment and as follows:

Signed bilateral agreements for investment promotion and protection Bilateral agreements for investment promotion and protection projects Multilateral agreements for investment promotion and protection, investment dispute settlement and judicial cooperation
Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and France Investment incentives agreement between Iraq and the United States of America Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and Slovakia Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan International Agency for Multilateral Investment Guarantee (MIGA) of 1988
International Agency for Multilateral Investment Guarantee (MIGA) of 1988 Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and the German Federation Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Egypt and Iraq Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and the Czech Republic (pending) Project to join the Agreement on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of other countries ICSID))
Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and Armenia Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and Kuwait Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and Iran Draft agreement with Marcos countries of South America
Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and South Korea Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and the United Arab Emirates Agreement on the Arab Association for Investment Guarantee 1970
Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and the Sultanate of Oman Agreement on the Promotion and Protection of Investment between Iraq and Romania Unified Agreement for the Investment of Arab capitals in Arab countries for the year 1980
Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and Turkey (no rush on an agreement between Iraq and Turkey) Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and Portugal Riyadh Arab Agreement for Judicial Cooperation for the year 1983
Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and China Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and South Korea Amman Arab Agreement on Commercial Arbitration of 1987
Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and the Sudan Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and Bosnia and Herzegovina (pending) Agreement on the promotion and protection of investments and the transfer of capital between the Arab countries for the year 2000
Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and Macedonia Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and Russia Agreement on the Settlement of Investment Disputes in Arab countries for the year 2000
Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and Bahrain Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and Lithuania
Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment Between Iraq and Lebanon Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and Belarus
Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and Italy Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and the Netherlands
Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and Vietnam Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between Iraq and Poland

Iraq's banking system and currency

The banking system in Iraq consists of forty-nine banks as well as the Central Bank and is distributed by ownership between 6 state banks: Rafidain, Al-Rashid, Trade Bank of Iraq, Agricultural Bank, Industrial Bank, the Real Estate Bank and 43 privately owned banks, including 9 Islamic banks. Although Investment Law No. 13 for the year 2006 has excluded investment in the banking sector from its provisions, investment in the banking sector takes its legal framework on the basis of the Central Bank Law No. 56 for the year 2004, No. 94 banks for the year 2004.

  1. Rafidain Bank – Baghdad / Al-Rashid Street/ Banks Street http://www.rafidain-bank.gov.iq
    emailcenter9@yahoo.com
    foreignlegaldept@yahoo.com
  2. Al-Rashid Bank – Baghdad/Al-Rashid Street/Banks Street – Public Relations and Media section 8186776
    http://rasheedbank.gov.iq
    rasheedbank-88@yahoo.com
    k-nashoor@rasheedbank.gov.iq
  3. Industrial Bank – Baghdad /Sinak/Khillani Square http://www.indbk.gov.iq 8154835/8172184
    info@indbk.gov.iq
  4. Cooperative Agricultural Bank – Baghdad – Sinak, Opposite Communications 8189087 line 07700115122/199
    agriculturalcoop bank@yahoo.com
  5. Real Estate Bank – Baghdad/Karrada Kharij, Quarter 905, Alley 5, Bldg. 1 www.reb-iraq.com
    info@reb-iraq.com
    iqmofmedia@yahoo.com
  6. Trade Bank of Iraq – Baghdad/Al-Mansour/Opposite Hunting Club http://www.tbiraq.comr 96415439626.
    info@tbiraq.com

Source: Annual Statistical Abstract of the Central Bank of Iraq in 2011

The minimum to establish a bank in Iraq is 100 billion Iraqi dinars (around U.S. $ 85 million). It is possible to see more information from the site of the Central Bank of Iraq: www.cbi.iq

Most banks have a participation in the financial community communications among banks all over the world

(SWIFT) (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication)

And all banks are connected to the Iraqi payments system operated by the Central Bank of Iraq; therefore, they are able to make local payments.

Iraq also has many banks that are able to transfer money electronically, and they have nearly 200 branches across the country. Also, work is developing in the use of the Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) which are being circulated throughout the country.

Private banks that are able to transfer money electronically

There is a group of foreign banks operating in Iraq and their number is 14, namely: -

  • Lebanese 7
  • Turkish 4
  • Iranian 3

BANK NAMES

Bank of Baghdad Elaf Islamic Bank
Commercial Bank of Iraq Bank of the North
Iraqi Islamic Bank Union Bank of Iraq
Investment Bank of Iraq Kurdistan Islamic Bank
Iraqi Middle East Bank for Investment Ashur Bank
United Bank for Investment Al-Mansour Bank
Bank of Babylon Arbil Bank
Dar es-Salaam Bank for Investment Islamic National Bank
Credit Bank of Iraq Bank of the Tigris and the Euphrates [for Development and Investment]
National Bank of Iraq Islamic Cooperation Bank
Sumer Trade Bank Cihan [Islamic] Bank
Economy Bank [for Investment and Finance] Al Huda Bank [in Iraq]
Khaleej Commercial Bank International Development Bank
Mosul Bank

Partnerships between Iraqi and Foreign Banks

FOREIGN BANKS SHARE IRAQI BANKS SHARE
<51% Kuwait's Burgan Bank
4% United Gulf Bank - Bahrain
Bank of Baghdad
55% Ahli United Bank - Bahrain Trade Bank of Iraq
80% Capital Bank of Jordan Ahli Bank of Iraq
75% of the National Bank of Kuwait
10% International Finance Corporation (IFC)
Credit Bank of Iraq
70% British Bank (HSBC) Dar es-Salaam Bank for Investment
51% Qatar National Bank Al-Mansour Bank for Investment

Currency

The currency unit is the Iraqi Dinar (IQD) and the exchange rate for each 1 U.S. dollar equals nearly 1170 Iraqi dinars in 2012, and a lot of financial transactions could be done in U.S. dollars.

Taxes

Taxes Under the Income Tax Act No. 113 for the year 1982 as amended, the upper limit of income taxes on companies and individuals should not exceed 15% of the profits. You can get other information about tax legislation in Iraq from the site of the General Commission for Taxes: www.iraqtax.org.

Free Zones in Iraq

The law (No. 3) for the year 1998 allows the General Commission for Free Zones to invest in the free zones through industrial, commercial and services projects. This law works according to directives issued by the management of free zones and the Directives of regulating investment No. 4 for the year 1999. According to the law of the free zones commission, imported and exported goods to the free zones are exempted from all taxes and fees unless they are brought into the customs area. Also, capitals, profits and revenue accruing from investing these projects are exempted from all taxes and fees during the entire period of the implementation of the project, including the phase of foundation and building. The application process relevant to the investor requires the latter to submit an application and pay a fee of one hundred U.S. dollars to the free zones commission. You can visit the site of the general commission for free zones: http://freezones.mof.gov.iq.

The free zones areas are regarded as one of the pillars on which the national economy hinges especially in developing countries, and they are defined as small zones inside the country’s political borders, but they are regarded as being outside the customs limits of that country. In other words, what is exported from and to the free zones is not subject to the restrictions of the import, export and customs fees.

The Iraqi General Commission for Free Zones Iraq was established under Law No. (3) for the year 1998 for the purpose of coping with global developments represented in greater cohesion in international economic relations within the framework of economic freedom. They aim at isolating these developments from the march of the Iraqi economy and its particularity and push the wheel of social economic development forward through attracting national and foreign capitals and setting up industrial projects that use advanced technology. There are currently three free zones belonging to the commission in Nineveh, Khor Al-Zubair, Al-Qaim. The economic philosophy of free zones lies in the State waiver of certain taxes due on any activity that achieves the greatest benefit for the overall economy of the country. Many world countries have employed the method of setting up free zones especially in the developing countries due to the importance of the free zones in creating additional funding sources for development and for attracting foreign investments in a selective way and transferring modern technology as well as putting local working force to work in order to eliminate unemployment.

1.Iraq 's geographical location:

Iraq occupies a strategic intermediary location between countries of the world. It is close to the global markets and overlooks the Arabian Gulf, making it geographically an important connection point of international trade lines between the Near East and the Western world. Also, Iraq is linked to a land, sea and air network, including railways.

2.Permitted activities in the free zones:

The law has permitted all industrial, commercial and services activities to be exercised in the free zones except banned ones such as industries that pollute the environment, toxic materials or those harmful to public health, counterfeit coins, paper and minted money, printed or embossed, books, pamphlets and recorded tapes as well as everything that is improper and is unacceptable by the public morality.

3.Mechanism and operational procedures in Iraqi free zones:

The mechanism and work procedures in the three free zones hinges on the commission leasing lands and buildings to investors (individuals or companies), Iraqi, Arab or foreign, in order to set up industrial, commercial or service projects according to investment contracts signed by the commission and investor. The period of contract with the investor depends on the type of the project.

Privileges granted to investors:

  • Exemption of capital, profits and revenues resulting from the investment of all taxes and fees over the life of the project, including the establishment and construction of the project.
  • Exempting the wages of foreign workers from taxes and allowing the transfer of their income outside Iraq. As for Iraqi workers, 50 % of their wages are exempt from income tax.
  • Exempting imported and exported goods and raw materials from all taxes and fees, except those exported to the interior of the country
  • Getting foreign currencies inside and outside or dealing in them inside the free zone is not subject to any restriction or condition.
  • Investors in the free zones are allowed to open accounts in certain banks fed with currencies received from abroad.
  • Giving investors a temporary entry customs privilege for their cars according to the need of the project.
  • Granting the right to waive the investment, incorporating or excluding a partner.

Scope of the law’s coverage
The Free Zones Act allows the exercise of the following activities in the free zones:

  1. Industrial activities (production and consumption), assembly operations, processing and re-packaging.
  2. Storage operations - re-export and trade.
  3. Storage, transportation and service activities of all kinds.
  4. Banking activities - insurance and reinsurance.
  5. Complementary and support professional activities.

For more information about the free zones in Iraq, please visit the site of the General Commission for Free Zones via this link:

http://freezones.mof.gov.iq

Secure investment zones in Iraq

  The National Investment Commission has formulated a strategy for the investment areas in Iraq in cooperation with the investment program in the Middle East and North Africa of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). A draft was prepared of the general principles for the feasibility study concerning the location of the pilot investment zone in the Babylon province, as well as a draft assessment of the investment protection for investors in Iraq. The program also mobilized a number of consultants, lawyers, financial experts and investors to contribute their views and experiences in determining the terms and conditions which realize the feasibility of a substantial investment.

Now, it is in the process of completing the requirements to be prepared and submitted among the secure investment areas, namely:

  1. Investment Zone in Baghdad province (several candidate sites).
  2. Investment Zone in Basra province / Khor Al-Zubair area.
  3. Investment Zone Babylon province / Hittin area.
  4. Investment Zone in Anbar province.
  5. Investment zone in the mid-Euphrates area (between the governorates of al-Najaf al-Ashraf and Holy Kerbala).
  6. Investment Zone Nineveh province.
  7. Investment Zone in Diyala province / New Iraq Camp

Investment in the Iraqi Stock Exchange Market:

Investment Law No. (13) for the year 2006 allows non-Iraqis to trade at the Iraqi Stock Exchange market in stocks and bonds listed in it and to form investment portfolios in stocks and bonds.

The opening of the Iraqi Stock exchange market www.isx-iq.nettook took place in 2004 to replace the Baghdad Stock Exchange Market (BSX) which was opened in 1992. This market, in collaboration with the NASDAQ-OMX, has adopted the electronic trading system on April 19, 2009. The market operates under the supervision of the Securities Commission, an independent body.

The number of companies listed on the Iraq Stock Exchange is 84, trading at a rate of approximately 894 billion Iraqi dinars in 2012.

Table No. 1 shows the number of companies listed in the Iraqi securities market

Year No. of Companies
2008 94
2009 91
2010 85
2011 87
2012 84
2013 83
2014 86
  • * Securities Commission / Annual Report for 2012
    * The reason for the low number of listed companies in 2012 is due to stopping the trading of some of them due to their lack of disclosure requirements to the Securities Commission. The trading volume reached in 2008, approximately 301 billion Iraqi dinars. In 2009, they reached almost 411 billion dinars, in 2010 approximately 400 billion dinars and in 2011 approximately 941 billion dinars.
    • The market value of companies listed on the Iraqi market for securities to the end of 2012 reached approximately 5,327 billion dinars, an increase of 8% from 2011.
    • The trading volume for the year 2012 reached approximately 894 billion dinars, a decline of 5% from the previous year.
    • The number of shares traded during the year 2012 reached approximately 626 billion shares, an increase of 27% from the previous year.

Table (2) shows the volume of trading in the Iraqi market for securities
(Billion dinars)

Year Volume
2008 301
2009 411
2010 400
2011 941
2012 894
2013 2.840
2014 901

Protection of Trade Brand Names, Industrial Designs, Copyrights

Copyright Protection

The Iraqi copyrights laws aim at meeting international standards currently applicable and taking into consideration the standards of the World Trade Organization. The intellectual property commission of the Ministry of Culture is regarded as being responsible for copyright registration, and it protects under the current rules authors of creative works of literature, arts and science, etc. An author is regarded to be the individual who published a work attributed to him. Protection includes whoever renders into Arabic a work, translating, editing or rendering it. If the innovative work belongs to someone else, the authorship rights belong to the author unless there is an agreement deeming otherwise.

It is not permitted to copy serialized novels or short stories and other literary or scientific works published by the authors in newspapers or novels except with their permission. The financial rights of the author are protected over the life of the author and for fifty years from the date of his death. The new legal provisions (dissolved CPA Order No. 83 ) also protects performers, granting them the exclusive right to broadcast and public transmission and innovative forms of communications and in line with accepted international standards for protecting the trade mark.

The Iraqi government is committed to protecting trademarks that are internationally recognized even if they are not registered in Iraq.

  • Investors may register new trademarks with the Registrar of trademarks in the Ministry of Industry and Minerals (MIM); please visit: www.industry.gov.iq.
  • Investors can transfer their ownership and granted licenses for the use of a registered trademark.
  • Iraqi laws protect registered trademarks for 10 years.
  • Investors may extend for another 10 years if the owner of the trademark resubmits a request within six months of the date of the expiration of the trademark’s permeability.

Industrial Designs

The approval of the application for the registration of industrial designs or models is issued when the industrial design or model is new or innovative, but the industrial design or model not considered innovative in the following cases:

First: If the display or description, or its use is described to the public, before the filing of the application for registration.

Second: If its display or description took place after the submission of the application for registration in a country that deals with Iraq on the basis of the principle of reciprocity.

Third: If it was displayed in national or international exhibitions, or the industrial design or model was displayed to the public at a scientific conference or newspaper within a period of not more than six months prior to the date of filing the registration application in Iraq.

Fourth: If it includes non-essential differences with regard to the design or former industrial model, or it was allocated for another type of product which is different from the product that had previously received an industrial design or model.

Worker's Retirement and Social Pension Organization

All companies must register with the Ministry of Labor Worker's Retirement (WR) and Social Pension Organization (SPO) before beginning any activities. Companies must deposit funds equal to three months estimated social security deductions for all employees. Investors will then be given a receipt voucher from the Ministry certifying the payment as well as the social security number issued to the company.

Generally, this first step requires at least a week. Social Security dues equal to 17% of an employee's wages shall be paid quarterly. Employers are responsible for 12%, with the remaining 5% paid by the employee. Payments should be made by employers to the WR and SPO by certified check. Please visit www.molsa.gov.iq for more information.

Customs Tariff Law No. 22 for the year 2010

The new customs tariff law as ratified by the Iraqi Council of Representatives on 12-1-2010 regulates the percentages of the customs fees on imported goods according to the rates set forth in the tariff tables of customs duties and agricultural calendar attached to it. Iraq relies in its customs on the Harmonized System-HS coding.

Other related laws

Industrial investment law for private and mixed sectors No. 20 for the year 1998.
Industrial Development Act No. 164 of 1964
Banking Act No. 94 of 2004
Agrarian Reform Law No. 117 of 1970
Property Tax Law No. 162 of 1959
Income Tax Law No. 113 of 1982
Customs Law No. 23 of 1984
Customs tariff law No. 23 for the year 2010
Commerce Act No. 30 of 1984
The Companies Act No. 21 of 1997 as amended
Companies Law No. 22 of 1997 as amended

The Iraqi Council of Representatives (parliament) approved on 12/1/2010 other laws which are: the Consumer Protection Act No. 1 of 2010 and the Law on the Protection Iraqi products No. 11 of 2010, which aims to provide fair conditions of competition for local products.

The other law is that of competition and of preventing monopoly No. 14 of 2010, which aims at creating an incentive to reduce the cost, price and quality improvement of goods and services offered on the market, which leads to the promotion of private and mixed public and developed sectors, supporting the national economy and improving the flow of goods and services.

Quality standards

The Central Agency for Standardization and Quality Control is the government agency under the Ministry of Planning and is responsible for monitoring product quality control in Iraq. This Agency examines and previews local and imported goods in terms of the elements of health, safety and quality. Add to this the fact that Iraq is a member of the International Standardization Organization (ISO), which provides technical assistance to offices responsible for patent and other matters related to intellectual property rights.

For more information, please visit the site of the Central Agency for Standardization and Quality Control

http://www.cosqc.gov.iq

Food hygiene standards and phytosanitary

The Ministry of Agriculture issues a phytosanitary certificate relevant to agricultural products. It also issues animal health certificates for live animals. As for food hygiene certificates, they are issued by the Ministry of Health for processed food products.

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List of Iraqi Ministries

No Commission URL
1 Iraqi foreign ministry http://www.Mfa.gov.iq
http://www.Mfaml.gov.iq
http://www.Mofa.gov.iq
http://www.Mofaml.gov.iq
2 Iraqi ministry of finance http://www.Mof.gov.iq
3 Iraqi ministry of the interior http://www.Moi.gov.iq
4 Iraqi defense ministry http://www.mod.mil.iq
5 Iraqi oil ministry http://www.Oil.gov.iq
6 Iraqi ministry of electricity http://www.Moelc.gov.iq
7 Iraqi ministry of education www.Moe.gov.iq
www.Moedu.gov.iq
8 Iraqi ministry of higher education and scientific research http://www.Mohesr.gov.iq
9 Iraqi ministry of reconstruction and housing http://www.Imariskan.gov.iq
http://www.Moch.gov.iq
10 Iraqi ministry of municipalities and public works http://www.Mmpw.gov.iq
11 Iraqi Ministry of Transport http://www.Motrans.gov.iq
http://www.Motransport.gov.iq
12 Iraqi Ministry of Justice http://www.Moj.gov.iq
13 Iraqi Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs http://www.Molsa.gov.iq
14 Iraqi Ministry of Planning http://www.Mop.gov.iq
http://www.Takhteet.gov.iq
15 Iraqi Ministry of Communications http://www.Moc.gov.iq
16 Iraqi Ministry of Trade http://www.Mot.gov.iq
17 Iraqi Ministry of Culture http://www.Mocul.gov.iq
18 Iraqi Ministry of Health http://www.Moh.gov.iq
19 The Iraqi Ministry of Industry http://www.Industry.gov.iq
20 Iraqi Ministry of Science and Technology http://www.Most.gov.iq
21 Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources http://www.Mawardmaiya.gov.iq
http://www.Mowr.gov.iq
22 Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture http://www.Zeraa.gov.iq
23 Iraqi Ministry of Youth and Sports http://www.Moys.gov.iq
24 Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights http://www.Humanrights.gov.iq
25 Ministry of Immigration and the Displaced http://www.Momd.gov.iq
26 Iraqi Ministry of Environment http://www.Moen.gov.iq

Investment in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Investment in the Kurdistan Region is regulated under Investment Law No. (4) for the year 2006, which formed the investment commission in the KRG that has undertaken important steps to attract investment and offered a range of investment opportunities available in the region. There are projects that have already been implemented there, including residential and hotel projects as well as a number of private universities, such as the American University, electric power plants and a host of other industrial projects.

For more information, please visit:

http://www.kurdistaninvestment.org

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Basic data

  1. Time zone: GMT +3 hours
  2. Work hours: 8:00-15:00
  3. Work week: Sunday to Thursday
  4. International dialing code: 964
  5. Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50 Hz
  6. Main languages: Arabic, Kurdish, Turkmen

Official Holidays

Calendar Date Occasion
January 1 New Year
January 6 Iraqi Army Day
March 21 Spring Feast
May 1 Intnl. Labor Day
July 14 Founding of the Republic of Iraq Day

Islamic Holidays (according to the Hijri calendar)

Calendar Date Occasion
Muharram 1 Start of the Hijri Year
Muharram 10 ِ Ashura
Rabii I 12 Holy Miladun-Nabi (Birth Anniversary of Prophet Muhammed)
Shawwal 1 - 3 Eidul-Fitr 3 days
Thul-Hijja 10 - 14 Eidul-Adha 4 days

How to Apply for a business Visa

Work visa applications should be completed in Iraqi embassies prior to departure. The National Investment Commission can duly be addressed to obtain a visa for businessmen and investors.

Businessmen and investors can apply for a visa to enter Iraq to the National Investment Commission - Public Relations dept. exclusively through the e-mail shown below, then the Commission will facilitate their access to it by filling the following form:

p.r.nic@investpromo.gov.iq

* Table 1 for all nationalities (Arab or foreign) provided there is no combination of Arabs and foreigners in the same table but in a separate table.

No Full name Passport number Nationality Profession Project name Project’s address Place of residence in Iraq

* Table 2 for Nationalities (Indian - Bangladeshi).

No Name in English Full name in Arabic Passport number Nationality Profession Project name Project’s address Place of residence in Iraq

As for the investors who submit an application for an entry visa through the provincial bodies, they must follow these steps:

  1. The Commission must be approached regarding the subject of requests for entry visas for investors, businessmen and laborers signed by the chairman of the provincial investment commission or by his deputy exclusively. The original color copy is sent to the National Investment Commission.
  2. The numbers and names of people are clearly listed in the sealed letter and signed by the Chairman of the Commission and on the accompanied list. For those of foreign nationalities (Bangladesh - Indian), in must either be written in English or Arabic, and the first name is written followed by the last name in the table attached to it.
  3. The original letter of affidavit is sent by the company sealed by its accredited seals as well as by the seal of the accredited seal of the provincial Investment Commission. It must be written in the affidavit that the applicant pledges not to seek employment outside the company during his work and after the completion of the project, together with the number and nationalities and the name of the project. It must be delivered by hand to the National Investment Commission in Baghdad.
  4. - Copies of accompanied passports must be in color and clear, and in the original size, taking into account the period of validity of the passport being at least 6 months before expiration. For the Bangladeshi – Indian nationalities, there must be two pages: a page for the name and photos, and a second page for the father and mother, according to the instructions of the residency affairs directorate.
  5. The tables below are to be used:

* Table 1 for all nationalities (Arab or foreign), provided there is no combination of Arabs and foreigners in the same table but in a separate table.

No Full name Passport number Nationality Profession Project name Project’s address Place of residence in Iraq

Table 2 for Nationalities (Indian -Bangladeshi).

No Name in English Full name in Arabic Passport number Nationality Profession Project name Project’s address Place of residence in Iraq

Airlines operating in Iraq:

A number of Iraqi, Arab and international carriers operate in Iraq. You can access their websites for details of flights to and from Iraq, which are as follows:

Communication Networks

Iraq has 6 Telecom companies that provide communication services and the Internet, and they are efficient:

No. Mobile phone network Internet site
1 Zain https://www.iq.zain.com
2 Asiacel http://www.asiacell.com
3 Korek http://www.korektel.com
4 Etisaluna http://www.etisaluna.com
5 Omnea http://www.omnnea.com
6 Kalimat http://www.kalimattelecom.com

Hotels

Below, we sum up some details of five major hotels in Iraq which the traveler can deal with in order to stay in the country or for the purposes of holding various conferences and forums:

No. Hotel Number of rooms Number of halls Number of restaurants Contact details
1  Al-Rashid Royal Tulip Hotel 449 rooms 33 2ings 4        Halls -    Zora Hall - can accommodate up to 850 people -     Hall Baghdad: can accommodate up to 80 people -     North Hall: can accommodate up to 30 people -     South Hall: can accommodate up to 30 people -    Five restaurants Summer restaurant: capacity for 100 people -     Prosperous Restaurant: capacity for 250 people -     Rehana restaurant: capacity for 200 people -     Restaurant Thousand and One Nights: capacity for 120 people -     National Restaurant: capacity for 90 people Tel: 009647700133370 reservation@royaltulipalrasheed.com www.royaltulipalrasheed.com
2 Crystal Grand Ishtar 307 5 Halls -   Hall of July: can accomodate up to 800 people -   Ishtar Hall: can accommodate up to 100 people -    Gilgamesh Hall: can accommodate up to 60 people -    Hall Baghdad: can accommodate up to 100 people -    Uruk Hall: can accommodate up to 70 people -    Two restaurants -    Restaurant Alorca: capacity for 90 people -     JD Restaurant: capacity for 100 people Sadoun Street, Baghdad / Iraq Tel: 009647706770711 Cristal.grandishtar@cristalhospitality.com www.cristalhospitality.com
3 Babylon Hotel 300 -2 Meeting Halls -Hug Hall can accommodate 600 people -          Arabic Café -          Qasir Al Samaa Rest: provides Panorama view for Baghdad around 360 degree -          Shanasheel Rest -          Lebanese Rest -          Asian Uruk Rest -          Hotel Hall Rest Baghdad/ Jadria Babilhotel@yahoo.com
3 Mansour Milia Hotel 135 6     Halls -Cordoba Hall: can accommodate up to 500 people - Red Hall: can accommodate up to 150 people - Abbasid Hall: can accommodate up to 150 people - Tents Hall: can accommodate up to 70 people - Hall Granada: can accommodate up to 25 people - Hall Lobby Bar: can accommodate up to 50 people -    Five restaurants -    Tigris Restaurant: 200 people - French restaurant: capacity for 100 people - Italian: capacity for 120 people - Chinese restaurant: capacity for 80 people - Baghdadi Restaurant: capacity for 50 people Tel: 009647700220775 mansourhotel@yahoo.com
4  International Palestine Hotel 271 3   Halls -Hall of Saladin: can accommodate up to 850 people - Jenin Hall: can accommodate up to 120 people - Iraqi Hall for meetings: for up to 30 people Two restaurants -    Restaurant Middle train: capacity for 150 people -    Cafeteria and restaurant Tigris: capacity for 159 people Tel: 009647905155150 com.palestinehotel@yahoo.com
5 Baghdad Hotel 175 Two Halls -   Hall of brackets - can accommodate up to 300 people -   Tigris Hall: can accommodate up to 150 people  Two restaurants Tel:  009647708822090 relationsbaghdadhotel@yahoo.com
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