Baghdad, Iraq — For a country enshrined in political controversy and uncertainty, the economic outlook for the future of Iraq looks optimistic, according to Rabee Securities Founder and Chairperson Shwan Ibrahim Taha. He said:
“Under the circumstances, the Iraq markets and economy have managed to stand firm, which is what is required in a such difficult political standstill and tense geopolitical situations”.
Following the complications with the October parliamentary elections, Iraq has entered a legislative vacuum with the government in Baghdad acting as a caretaker cabinet without the executive authority to deal with the broader matters of the state, having only limited authority to conduct regular business related to security, health, education, and social services.
However, interim progress has been made as the new President, and the PM immediately began forming bilateral relations with representatives from Saudi Arabia, Japan, China, England, and France to call on them to invest in Iraq. More recently, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced that it would set up a company to invest in Iraq, which is expected to pave the way for a raft of government implementation of laws and regulations to attract further overseas investors to the country.
Mr. Taha added: “I am optimistic about Iraq’s outlook; we will witness a gradual increase in production to reach five million barrels by 2028. Any significant downside in oil prices could add some pressure. Still, we are positive that international investors are slowly returning, and this will be further helped by improvements to internal policies implementation.”
In the first eleven months of 2022, Iraq’s budget revenues increased by 59% yearly to $100.9 billion, mainly due to the increase in oil prices. As a result, the budget surplus increased significantly from $4.8 billion to $40.3 billion during the first eleven months of the year compared to the previous year. Iraq’s central bank foreign currency reserves rose to $96 bn as of December 16, 2022.
Mr. Taha emphasized that such a positive outlook must be accompanied by precise, sustainable, and measured policies starting with reducing the share of government wages in the annual budget. He also highlighted the importance of implementing more robust governance measures and fixing the electricity shortage, which could be solved by increasing funds usage transparency with clear KPIs.
On the stock market side, Rabee Securities Iraq Stock Exchange Index (RSISX Index) decreased by 0.8% (USD RSISX Index: -3.8%), while the most significant number of outstanding ISX-listed companies, 21 out of 103, opted to distribute cash dividends during 2022 with a dividend yield range of 0.6% and 18.4%. On a positive note, forty-six companies’ share prices went up in 2022, of which 41 increased more than 5%, and 39 increased more than 10%.
Overview of Rabee Securities’ (RS) operations in 2022
RS hosted a 3-day event (7-9 March, 2022) at the Iraq Pavilion at EXPO 2020 to showcase Iraq’s top technology startups. Startups in Iraq focus on various sectors including medical services, tourism, education, fashion, transportation, etc. There are close to 200 startups in Iraq, and there is a lot of potential in the country for new startups, that will be potential listings on the ISX in the future.
RS continued sponsoring and supporting the only stock market TV program in Iraq “Stock Market Week” published on Channel 24 on Saturdays at 3:00 pm. At the end of 2022, the TV program reached the 93th episode, with 66 hosted guests in total. (To watch the “Stock Market Week” programs please follow RS YouTube channel).
RS launched the first online trading App to trade on the ISX (RS Trading App) in May 2022. It is capable for local investors to open a trading account in the ISX, trade in the listed companies, review the latest news of the market and companies and review their portfolio. In addition to continuing to invest in technology, RS will continue to take the responsibility to increase awareness and knowledge about investing in a stock market for locals.