Follow the latest in economic news and developments about the Arab transition countries. 

Anger has been brewing in Tunisia’s smuggling hub of Ben Guerdane since the closure of its main border crossing stemmed the contraband Libyan petrol trade which fuels the local economy. In a report published in December, the World Bank estimated that informal trade with both Libya and Algeria cost Tunisia at least $828 million annually in lost revenues.  According to the report, 20 percent of the active population in the Ben Guerdane region work in informal trade, making it “one of the largest employers (if not the largest) in the region.” [AFP]
The Egyptian government is taking too long to roll out an electronic smart card system designed to reduce costly energy subsidies, the company contracted for the project alleged on Tuesday. Fuel subsidies account for a fifth of state spending, but one cash-strapped government after another has resisted attacking the wasteful system, fearful that raising fuel prices could spark unrest. [Reuters]

Egypt’s foreign reserves rose to around $17.42 billion in March from $17.307 billion in February, Central Bank Governor Hisham Ramez said, edging further away from critical lows they hit last year. [DNE]

General Manager of Libya Enterprise, the Ministry of Economy department concerned with matters relating to SMEs in Libya, Abdalnasr Abouzkeh has advocated for SMES saying that “the IMF tells us that Libya should have 300,000 working for the state sector, whereas in reality Libya has 1.3 million”. This statistic encapsulated Libya’s problem of a bloated state sector and a stunted SME private sector, he explained. [Libya Herald]

Also of Interest:
Egypt PM orders urgent action on power cuts | Ahram
CBE: Total surplus of $2 billion at BOP during first half of 2013-14 | Egypt Independent
US not postponing return of Egypt’s upgraded army helicopters: Embassy | Ahram
Jordanian authorities sign deals on renewable energy projects | APA
East Libyan rebels will agree to end oil port blockade within days: Leader | Ahram
Tunisia tops Arab energy efficiency rankings | Al-Monitor
Gulf states to invest in tourism infrastructure in Morocco | Reuters