EconSource: African Officials Gather in Egypt to Talk Mega Trade Pact

Senior officials of three African economic blocs met in Egypt on Sunday to start hammering out details of a free trade agreement. The Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) is to be launched at a summit of heads of state and government on Wednesday in Sharm al-Sheikh. The deal between the East African Community, Southern African Development Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa will create a market of twenty-six countries. The deal gives Egypt free trade access to seven new African nations. “The agreement will bolster Egypt’s status internationally and strategically,” Egypt’s Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour said. Egypt expects to see its exports to African countries rise by 100 percent in three years to $5 billion, compared to $2.7 billion in 2013. Abdel-Nour added that Egypt has agreed with the African Development Bank to provide credit facilities worth $500 million to Egyptian exporters to support Cairo’s trade deals with Africa. [Reuters, AFP, Ahram Online, 6/7/2015]

IMF agrees on $833 million loan to Iraq
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reached an agreement on Friday with Iraq for a $833 million loan program to help the country with its finances and increase investor confidence. The program, which must still be reviewed by the IMF’s board next month, would help Iraq cope with a plunge in oil prices and violence tied to the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) insurgency. The IMF said the Iraqi economy contracted 2.1 percent in 2014 due largely to violence, and may grow only 0.5 percent this year. [Reuters, The Guardian, 6/6/2015]

Official government says Libyan central bank now based in eastern headquarters
Libya’s internationally recognized government says the central bank’s headquarters have moved to the eastern city of Bayda, but it remains unclear how the bank will control and process payments with its staff and computers still in Tripoli. The official government is struggling for control of the state institutions with the rival administration in Tripoli. It also had plans to route oil revenues through the east to bypass rivals in Tripoli, but foreign buyers are still paying for oil through the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC). Meanwhile, the NOC said it is delivering petrol to a western region opposing the Tripoli government, in a bid to showcase its impartiality. [Reuters, 6/5/2015]

Tunisia’s Prime Minister discusses energy issues
Tunisia’s Prime Minister Habib Essid addressed Tunisia’s energy concerns, in particular the country’s natural resources, saying that the government is transparent on energy issues. Following a hearing session on the government’s performance one hundred days after taking office, Essid said any cases of corruption will be held accountable. A hearing will also take place to submit requested information on energy issues and review the the state of the country’s natural resources. Essid added that the issue of rising prices is among the government’s priorities, and noted that the inflation rate has decreased from 5.7 percent to 5.3 percent. [TAP/All Africa, 6/6/2015]

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