Standard Chartered, a British bank with more than 1,700 branches in over 70 countries, has officially opened its first branch in Iraq.  This branch will be located in Baghdad.  The British bank plans to open another branch this year in Erbil, Iraq and another next year in Basra, Iraq.  These Iraq-based branches are being established to meet the needs of Standard Chartered’s global clients working in the oil, telecommunication, and infrastructure industries.  Standard Charter also intends for these branches and their personnel to aid the Iraqi Government, its ministries, and the Iraqi Central Bank in an advisory role.

To many, this move by Standard Chartered signifies a milestone in the development of Iraq, following years of political unrest and conflict.  Simon Collis, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to Iraq, speaks of the importance of foreign investment in Iraq when he says, “For Iraq to realize its full potential and take its rightful place in the global economy, it needs to attract massive investments.  The financial sector is key to this.”  Collis says the British embassy will continue to work diligently to ensure that British businesses and Iraqi institutions are able to take full advantage of business opportunities in Iraq.

Standard Chartered’s decision to open a branch in Iraq speaks for its confidence in Iraq’s economy.  Hopefully, other companies in countries around the world will follow Standard Chartered’s lead and expand their businesses into Iraq.  If this occurs, there is little doubt that Iraq will experience greater economic stability and likely greater political stability as well. 

What are your thoughts on British banks moving into Iraq?  Will these bank branches succeed in Iraq?  Feel free to leave a comment below. 

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