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

The Ministerial Economic Group in Egypt has agreed to introduce essential amendments to the law on competition protection and monopoly prevention. The amendments should help upgrade market performance and achieve justice, according to Industry Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour. The Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) will be more independent and will have more powers to better enforce law in a way that would create a healthy economic environment based on fair competition and free market regulations. The amendments will be discussed in a Cabinet meeting to refer them to the president for ratification as soon as possible, Abdel-Nour added. [MENA]
Egypt will return $3 billion that were invested in bonds to Qatar when the debt matures by the end of the year, according to a source at the Central Bank of Egypt. “We will return $500 million to Qatar in October and $2.5 billion in November (for) the bonds,” the source said. In September, Egypt returned $2 billion that Qatar had deposited with its central bank after talks to convert the funds into three-year bonds broke down. The central bank also returned a $500 million deposit to Qatar in November and another $500 million in December after the Gulf country refused to renew the deposits upon its maturity. [Reuters]
Jordan international trade deficit in the first 11 months of 2013 grew by 8.6 percent, reaching $1.2 billion, figures released by department of statistics showed today. On the bilateral trade, Italy was singled out at the highest trade partner for the kingdom in the European continent, with total imports mounting to nearly $1 billion, or 4.9 percent of the total volume. Italy came fourth in terms of bilateral trade after Saudi Arabia, China and the US. In terms of bilateral trade, exports to neighboring Arab countries increased including Iraq and Egypt while exports to Asian countries such as India dropped. [ANSAmed]
Morocco’s growth will drop dramatically in 2014 to just 2.4 percent due to a poor expected harvest, resulting in higher unemployment, the government’s planning commission predicted yesterday. Ahmed Lahlimi Alami, head of the High Planning Commission, told journalists that despite an improvement in the non-agricultural sector, a forecasted 28 percent drop in cereal harvest would bring down growth. The Moroccan economy grew at 4.4 percent in 2013, a rebound from 2.7 percent in 2012, which was also caused by a poor harvest. Despite the development in other sectors, agriculture remains a key employer in this nation of 34 million and the economy remains at the mercy of the rains. [AP]
Also of Interest:
Egypt stocks soar on Davos-based investor optimism | Ahram, NAP
Egypt’s foreign reserves hit $17.8 billion in November | Cairo Post
Egypt’s foreign debts rise $3.8 billion in Q3: CBE | Cairo Post
IFC, AlexBank support trade and economic development in Egypt | CPI
Wage increases for 1.5 million Egyptian teachers | Ahram
Egypt’s June 30 fund gathers EGP 827 million | Ahram
Jordan remittances rise 4.4 percent in 2013 | Reuters
Canada’s Harper pledges $105 million aid to Jordan | The Canadian Press
Yemen: 142 projects amounting to 75.2 billion rials in 2013 | Yemen Economist [Arabic]