EconSource: Even with Billions in Gulf Aid, Egypt May Still Turn to IMF

Egypt’s on-and-off talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) may be back on again, as investors say IMF loans offer a stronger platform for reviving the Egyptian economy than the Gulf money currently keeping it afloat. Even with signs of a recovery in tourism and investment, the gap between Egypt’s foreign currency receipts and needs may reach $15 billion a year by 2017. Support from Gulf countries helps to maintain Egypt’s balance of payments, but it is not a long term solution. While Egyptian authorities do not want to be tied to an IMF financing package and its pace of required reforms, an IMF program would go a long way towards attracting investors. [Bloomberg, 5/27/2015]

EU-Tunisia trade deal talks to begin in October
Tunisia intends to begin talks in October on a free trade deal with the European Union (EU), Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid said during a visit to Brussels at press conference with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem welcomed Essid’s remarks, calling the announcement a “major step” towards integrating Tunisia into the EU internal market and making the country more attractive for investment. Malmstroem plans to travel to Tunisia to launch trade negotiations “on an ambitious partnership” in the fall. [AFP, 5/27/2015]

Saudi regulator gets tough ahead of market’s opening to foreign investors
As Saudi Arabia prepares to open the Middle East’s biggest economy to foreign investors in June, the market regulator is clamping down on potentially errant companies. The Capital Market Authority (CMA) has referred an investigation into alleged insider trading and market manipulation at Etihad Etisalat Co., better known as Mobily, to the public prosecutor. The move, which could lead to fines and criminal charges against individuals, is unusual in the kingdom, where local executives are rarely penalized. The regulator is pushing for stronger corporate governance and transparency at local companies. [Wall Street Journal, 5/27/2015]

ISIS captures one of Syrian regime’s last sources of income
The capture of two phosphate mines outside of Palmyra by the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) has dealt a major blow to the Syrian regime. Pro-ISIS Twitter accounts posted pictures from the Khunayfis mines, with some claiming the seizure of a new source of “millions of dollars” in revenue. While ISIS is unlikely to be able to make use of the raw phosphate in the mines, the victory has stripped the regime of one of its few remaining major sources of income. Syria has some of the largest phosphate reserves in the world. Before the conflict, they produced about $60 million in revenue a year. [The Telegraph, Business Insider, 5/27/2015]

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