EconSource: Fitch Issues First Rating on Iraq’s Debt

Iraq has a stable outlook and a long-term foreign currency issuer default rating of B-, Fitch Ratings said in a statement on Friday. “Political risk and insecurity [in Iraq] are among the highest faced by any sovereign rated by Fitch,” the company said in the statement. “Iraq’s fiscal position has deteriorated rapidly since 2013 and Fitch forecasts a double-digit fiscal deficit for 2015, owing to lower oil prices, higher military spending and costs associated with civil conflict.” Government debt may equal 51 percent of Iraq’s gross domestic product by the end of 2015 with the ratio forecast to increase next year, Fitch said. Savings built up over years of high oil prices have largely been eroded. [Bloomberg, FT, 8/7/2015]

Saudi June foreign reserves fall 1.2 percent month/month
Saudi Arabia’s net foreign reserves fell to 2.492 trillion riyals ($664.5 billion) in June, down 1.2 percent from the previous month to their lowest level since March 2013, central bank data showed on Thursday. The world’s largest oil exporter has been drawing down its reserves to cover a huge state budget deficit caused by low oil prices. Net foreign assets dropped 9.4 percent from a year earlier in June. They peaked at a record $737 billion last August. Saudi Arabia’s reserves have shrunk for nine out of the last ten months. The government is “hemorrhaging” money, said Farouk Soussa, Citigroup’s chief Middle East economist. [Reuters, Bloomberg, 8/6/2015]

Egypt to build six tunnels under the Suez Canal
Head of the Suez Canal Authority Mohab Mamish said that Egypt plans to build six tunnels under the new Suez Canal. The tunnels are worth EGP 29 billion ($3 billion) and will link the Sinai to the western bank in an effort to boost development in the peninsula and facilitate the transport of goods. Half of the tunnels will be built in Ismailia–two of them will be road tunnels and one will be a railway tunnel. The other three tunnels will be built in Port Said, according to Mamish. [Cairo Post, 8/7/2015]

Also of interest
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UAE banks seek to be largest financer of Suez Canal projects | Amwal Al Ghad
Tripoli minister says Libya’s oil output nearly 400,000 bpd | Reuters
Tunisia’s trade deficit drops 8.4 percent | All Africa/TAP
Tunisia passes draft law on cooperation agreement with Germany | All Africa/TAP