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

Yemen is close to a deal with the IMF on a $550 million loan, according to the country’s Planning Minister Mohammed al-Saadi who attended an investment conference in Kuwait. Yemen’s finances have been strained by frequent attacks on oil pipelines by disgruntled tribesmen. Crude exports provide up to 70 percent of government budget income. The IMF expects Yemen’s budget deficit to shrink to 5.8 percent of GDP this year from 6.3 percent in 2012, the biggest gap since 2009. But its non-oil budget shortfall is set to deepen to 29.6 percent of GDP in 2013 from 28.2 percent in 2012. [Reuters]
Amb. James Moran: Egypt-IMF loan deal to unlock EU’s further aid
Ambassador James Moran – Head of Delegation of the European Union to Egypt – said the EU’s upcoming aid package to Egypt depends on obtaining a IMF loan, which would certify global trust in the Egyptian economy. Moran was delivering a keynote speech in a press conference held on Thursday regarding a €20 million aid package granted by the EU in cooperation with the German Agency for International Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit -GIZ). [Amwal al-Ghad]
At the Tripoli Chamber of Commerce organized conference on the “Shadow Economy – Phenomenon, effects and solutions” held in Tripoli on Monday, Economy Minister Mustafa Abufunas confirmed that five SME funds had been created in five cities. “We are working on the details of the laws and regulations”, he explained, adding that Libya had not had “a process for loans based on Islamic banking” and that this was being worked on. [Libya Herald]
Arab labor unions — like other social organizations and structures — have been exposed to pressures and exploitation by the authorities. These unions have shattered, and transformed from a tool to represent the interests of workers into a tool in the hands of authorities to silence and overshadow them. This led to the unions losing the trust of workers, because the latter were stripped of their role and distanced from the goals for which they were established. [Al-Monitor]
Also of Interest:
EBRD lends Egypt’s Juhayna $73 million for expansion | Ahram
Egypt saw 20 percent monthly rise in November’s tourists: Report | Ahram
Egypt’s minister of communication launches national strategy for electronics industry | Youm7
Economic life slows to a crawl amid crackdown in North Sinai | IRIN
Jordan’s inflation hits 8.5 percent end-November | JNA [Arabic]
Jordan, Germany sign economic assistance deal |  Jordan Times
EBRD invests $60 million in Morocco’s BMCE Eurobond issue | MarocGazette, Le Matin [French]
Yemen fulfills promise to create supervisory body for donors’ pledges | Yemen Times
Nearly 30 percent of MENA citizens don’t save money | Zawya DJ