MENASource|News, Analysis, Perspectives

January 5, 2016

Saudi Arabia has agreed to provide Egypt with more than $3 billion in loans and grants to support the country’s economy. The kingdom will loan Egypt $1.5 billion to develop the Sinai Peninsula and $1.2 billion to finance Egypt’s oil purchases, Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr said.

Egypt will also receive a $500 million grant to buy Saudi exports and product. Nasr said the loans will be signed on Tuesday. Last month, Saudi Arabia promised to invest $8 billion in Egypt through its public and sovereign funds. Nasr urged Saudi Arabia to expedite investment in energy, housing, and tourism. Also in December, Egypt announced it was negotiating $1.5 billion in loans for development in the Sinai with the Kuwait Fund for Development, the Abu Dhabi Fund, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, and the Islamic Development Fund. Nasr’s comments came as she arrived in Riyadh to chair the third meeting of the Egyptian-Saudi Coordination Council. [Bloomberg, Ahram Online, 1/4/2016]

Fitch says Saudi budget is positive but large deficit to remain
Fitch ratings agency said that Saudi Arabia’s 2016 budget shows a “commitment to reform” but warned that the country’s deficit will remain in the double digits due to low global oil prices. Fitch praised Saudi efforts to rationalize expenditure, increase non-oil revenues, and improve the fiscal policy framework. However, Fitch noted that the budget’s projected deficit of 13.5 percent of gross domestic product is “by far the largest fiscal deficit that the Saudi authorities have budgeted for” and suggests an oil price assumption of around $40 per barrel. This would mark the second successive year Saudi Arabia sees a budget deficit in the double digits. Fitch warned that the impact of reforms on the deficit “will depend on the pace and extent of implementation and the size of offsetting measures to allay the effect on low- and middle-income families.” [Reuters, FT, 1/5/2015

Turkey sees $1.2 billion of extra revenue in 2016 after tax hikes 

Turkey expects an additional 3.6 billion lira ($1.21 billion) of revenue this year after introducing tax hikes on alcohol and tobacco products, mobile phones, and some highway and bridge tolls, a senior official said Tuesday. "The tax hike on alcoholic beverages and tobacco products will bring in an extra 3 billion lira. Tax hikes on mobile phones and tolls are expected to generate 300 million lira in additional revenue each," the official said. [Reuters, Hurriyet, 1/5/2015]

UAE says economy resilient to low oil prices
The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) economy is resilient to low oil prices, Economy Minister Sultan Saeed al-Mansouri said Tuesday. He said low oil prices have so far had a limited impact on the economy and major infrastructure projects, emphasizing the UAE’s policy of diversification and reduced dependence on oil revenues. “The UAE is the least affected country by low oil prices as non-oil sectors contributed nearly 69 percent of [gross domestic product],” al-Mansouri said. [Gulf News, 1/5/2015]

Also of interest
Saudi-Iran tension unlikely to affect Gulf bond plans | Reuters
Saudi regulator says airport privatization open to foreigners | Reuters
UAE regulator tells banks to seek approval before disclosing dividends | Reuters
Egypt to import 3 million barrels of crude oil per month from Kuwait | DNE
Credit Agricole, BNP Paribas to finance Egypt's oil refinery expansion | Ahram Online
Egypt's foreign reserves rise slightly in December | Reuters, Ahram Online
Egypt’s new controls on imports stir controversy | Aswat Masriya
ISIS militants target Libya's Es Sider oil port for second day | Reuters
Tunisia expects significant decline in olive oil production | TAP
Turkey’s exports drop 8.7 percent in 2015 | Hurriyet
Turkish Central Bank head to address why inflation rate missed target | Hurriyet
Turkey regulator sees IPO interest surge as companies seek funds | Bloomberg

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