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Country Report Iraq September 2017

Country Report Iraq September 2017

  • September 2017
  • ID: 2557444
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit


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Outlook for 2017-21

  • The government will roll back Islamic State (IS) territorially, but it will struggle to earn the trust of the Sunni minority and will wrestle with the issue of Kurdish control of disputed territory, particularly in the areas liberated from IS.
  • The prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, will fail to overhaul Iraq's nepotistic, sectarian and ethnically aligned political system, undermining efforts to tackle the myriad security and economic challenges confronting the country.
  • Nevertheless, The Economist Intelligence Unit expects Mr Abadi to remain in post beyond the next election, scheduled for 2018, given a lack of plausible alternatives and the backing of external players (notably the US).
  • The government will oversee large spending cuts to meet the conditions of its US$5.34bn loan from the IMF. However, the Fund will relax compliance with some conditions if it is deemed necessary.
  • Higher oil prices (relative to 2016) will lead to a sharp reduction in the fiscal deficit in 2017, to 6.8% of GDP. The public finances will remain in deficit in 2017-21, narrowing modestly to 5.7% of GDP in 2021 as oil prices rise.
  • Real GDP growth will slow to 1.2% in 2017 as oil output remains relatively stagnant and non-oil growth is constrained by the war with IS. However, it will recover to an average of 3.1% in 2018-21 as IS is driven back.
  • As part of the IMF loan, Iraq has committed to maintaining its currency peg to the US dollar. However, given persistently weak oil prices, we expect that a gap will remain between the official and market exchange rates in 2017-21.


  • The Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman al Saud, has met a key Iraqi Shia politician and militia leader, Moqtada al-Sadr, in Jeddah in a seeming bid to improve bilateral ties between Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
  • Both the US and Iran have urged the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to postpone an independence referendum, planned for September 25th, over concerns that it could lead to further instability and intensify separatist Kurdish sentiment beyond Iraqi borders.
  • The Iraqi government has successfully liberated Tal Afar, previously the largest city in Iraq still under Islamic State (IS) control, from the jihadi group.
  • Iraq sold US$1bn in seven-year bonds in early August. There was heavy demand, with the order book more than six times oversubscribed. As a result, Iraq secured a yield of 6.75%, cheaper than initial pricing expectations.
  • Iraq has made a fresh commitment to comply with OPEC's production cuts at an OPEC monitoring meeting in Abu Dhabi.

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