Iraq to ask US for exemptions on some Iran sanctions

Iraq's Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi has been caught in the crossfire of the US sanctions on Iran. (AP)
Updated 22 August 2018
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Iraq to ask US for exemptions on some Iran sanctions

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s economy is so closely linked to Iran that Baghdad is going to ask Washington for permission to ignore some US sanctions on its neighbor, Iraqi government and central bank officials said.

US President Donald Trump withdrew the US from an international deal aimed at limiting Iran’s nuclear program earlier this year and reimposed trade sanctions.

Washington has said there will be consequences for countries that do not respect the sanctions.

Baghdad is in a difficult position. Iraq imports crucial supplies from ally Iran, but its other major ally is the US, which provides security 
assistance and training.

The request would mark an 
important change in political tactics for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi. He initially said Baghdad would respect all the US sanctions, but faced heavy criticism from rivals.

The officials told Reuters a delegation will travel to Washington to ask for exemptions in applying the sanctions. They did not say when that trip would take place.

“The government plans to ask Washington for a waiver. It’s going to happen soon,” one central bank 
official said.

An official in Abadi’s office declined to comment. An official in the US State Department said it was discussing Iran policy with its partners around the world.

“We have given the same message to all countries around the world that the President has said, the United States is fully committed to enforcing all of our sanctions,” the official said.

“Iraq is a friend and important partner of the US and we are committed to ensuring Iraqi stability and prosperity.”

Iraqi officials fear shortages of key items if Baghdad complies with all the sanctions, which could lead to political turmoil at a delicate time in Iraqi politics.

Iraq imports a wide range of goods from Iran including food, agricultural products, home appliances, air conditioners and spare car parts. The goods element of Iranian imports to Iraq was about $6 billion for the 12 months to March 2018, about 15 percent of Iraq’s total imports for 2017.

Energy contracts between the two countries contributed to a volume of trade of $12 billion last year.

The officials said they were asking each ministry to put together a list of imports that are essential for Iraq’s economy. Those items will make up the request for exemptions.

The US sanctions that came into 
effect earlier this month target Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals, its purchases of US dollars and its car industry. Other sanctions will come into force in November.

 


Angry Birds maker Rovio needs new games to revitalize sales

Updated 16 November 2018
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Angry Birds maker Rovio needs new games to revitalize sales

  • Rovio said tough competition and high marketing costs would put pressure on its full-year outlook
  • Rovio grew rapidly after the 2009 launch of the original ‘Angry Birds’ game

HELSINKI: Rovio Entertainment, the maker of the “Angry Birds” mobile game, on Friday said the company needed to come up with new games to drive growth and warned that sales would fall this year after reporting higher third-quarter profits.
The Finnish company, which listed its shares on the stock market in Helsinki last year, reported third-quarter adjusted operating profit of €10.4 million ($11.8 million), up from €4 million a year ago.
But Rovio said tough competition and high marketing costs would put pressure on its full-year outlook. The group said it expected 2018 sales to be between €280 million and €290 million, compared with a previous range of €260 million and €300 million. Last year, the company had revenues of €297 million.
“It is clear that we need new games in order to accelerate growth,” Rovio’s Chief Executive Kati Levoranta said in a statement, adding that the company planned to launch at least two new games next year and had another ten projects in the pipeline.
Rovio grew rapidly after the 2009 launch of the original “Angry Birds” game, in which players used slingshots to attack pigs who stole birds’ eggs. The company expanded into film with an Angry Birds movie in 2016, but more recently has been hit by its high dependency on the Angry Birds brand and tough competition.
After its initial public offering in September 2017, Rovio’s shares dropped 50 percent in February after the company said its sales could fall this year after 55 percent growth in 2017.
Rovio expects a movie sequel to boost business next year and the company has also stepped up investments in its spin-off company Hatch, which is building a Netflix-style streaming service for mobile games.
Full-year core operating profit margin is seen at 10-11 percent, up from a previous view of 9-11 percent.