Iraq's Biggest Companies
Iraq's turbulent history has had significant negative impacts on its economy, due to a combination of factors that have included wars, financial problems and UN sanctions. The petroleum industry is the most important sector of the Iraqi economy and a number of large international companies such as Shell, CNPC, Petronas and BP have an interest in Iraq. The Iraqi economy has shown some signs of diversification from petroleum, but oil is still the main industry in Iraq and it has some of the largest oil reserves in the world.
China has shown a particular interest in investing in Iraq, tending to be less averse to risk than many American companies, and to a certain extent enjoying an easier business relationship due to its lack of involvement in the US-led invasion. Chinese oil companies such as the state owned Al Waha Oil Company are major players in Iraq. Both Chinese and French companies have also entered the Iraqi cement industry, and a number of other foreign countries have been involved in various other sectors of the economy, including construction.
The construction industry has tended to be one of the most reliably successful sectors in Iraq due to the repeated need for reconstruction, and cement production is the main manufacturing industry outside of petroleum.
Agriculture has also traditionally been an important sector in Iraq, due to its fertile land, but Iraq is currently a net importer of food. A number of efforts have been made to increase agricultural production, such as the establishment of the GMAAD cooperative, which is composed of 800 farmers.
Asia Cell is the largest telecommunications company in Iraq. It offers both mobile internet and mobile phone services. The company was founded in 1999 and began operating commercially in 2000. In 2003, Asia Cell obtained a two year GSM license to serve the northern provinces of the country, which helped to spread their service to a wider base of clients. The license was extended in 2005, enabling Asia Cell to serve the whole of Iraq and it remains the only telecommunications network to provide coverage for the entire country. Asia Cell won a 15 year license in 2007 to continue to provide national coverage and it is now the network with the largest long-term coverage in Iraq, with over 7.4 million subscribers. Asia Cell has expanded to employ about 2000 people and it has established new offices in a number of cities around the country.
The Baghdad Soft Drinks Company is a bottling company that has the exclusive rights for the sale of Pepsi products in Iraq. Its typical monthly sales are approximately 7.2 million bottles. The company first became a franchise of Pepsi in 1984, but their relationship ended in 1990 due to trade sanctions. However, a new agreement was made in 2004 which enabled the Baghdad Soft Drinks Company to begin selling Pepsi in Iraq and to expand its business.
The Central Bank of Iraq is the backbone of the financial sector in Iraq. Its assets exceed 57 trillion dinars and it is responsible for the regulation of Iraq's private banks, which include the Dar Es Salaam Investment Bank and the Bank of Baghdad.