EconSource: Morocco Suspends Contacts With EU Over Court Ruling on Farm Trade
Morocco said Thursday it had suspended contact with European Union (EU) institutions over a court ruling invalidating a farm trade accord.

The EU lodged an appeal last week against a European Court decision announced on December 10 to void the trade deal with Morocco due to the deal’s inclusion of the Western Sahara. Last month, the Moroccan government suspended contacts with the EU delegation in Rabat. “Morocco cannot accept to be treated as a subject of a judicial process and to be buffeted between European institutions,” the country said Thursday. “Continuing in that position would deeply threaten the mutual trust and even the continuation of the partnership between the two sides.” An EU source said the December court decision would have no direct impact on trade pending a ruling on the EU appeal. However Morocco’s formal suspension of contacts could disrupt some EUR 1.03 billion ($1.12 billion) of EU grants to the country. [Reuters, AFP, 2/26/2016]
The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) will for the first time allow mortgage companies to provide financing for home buyers in order to ease the burden on existing lenders and expand the base of beneficiaries, the bank said in a statement. CBE Governor Tarek Amer said Wednesday that the Housing Ministry signed loans worth EGP 10 billion ($1.3 billion) with Egyptian banks to finance the construction of 450,000 units. The CBE also added two new tiers of interest rates to accommodate more borrowers. Low-income earners will now be offered an interest rate of 5 percent, down from 7 percent, and upper-middle income earners will be offered a rate of 10.5 percent. The CBE said the changes will encourage banks to grant financing to middle-income homeowners. [Ahram Online, DNE, 2/25/2016]
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have adopted a resolution approving the opening of negotiations for a free trade agreement with Tunisia. “The European Parliament welcomes the opening of negotiations with a view to the conclusion of a free trade agreement between the EU and Tunisia,” the parliament said. The European Parliament urged negotiators “to conclude a progressive and asymmetrical agreement [that] takes account of the significant economic disparities between the parties.” It also said that transitional periods and quotas should be provided for “sensitive” sectors and products. The resolution added, “It is essential that Tunisia should receive substantial financial and technical assistance from the EU so that it can properly implement the provisions of the free trade agreement.” The first round of negotiations between Tunis and Brussels on a Deep and Comprehensive Trade Agreement (DCFTA) took place in October 2015. [TAP, 2/28/2016]
The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors approved on Thursday a $70 million project to address unemployment among university graduates in Tunisia. The project will support ongoing reforms to improve the management of universities and the quality of education. It builds on previous World Bank projects aimed at linking higher education institutions to the private sector. One component of the project, a competitive grant scheme, will encourage higher education institutions to develop joint programs with employers to facilitate the transition into the workforce. “A closer relationship between higher education and the private sector will form part of the foundation of Tunisia’s new economic model,” said World Bank Country Manager for Tunisia Eileen Murray said. “Working together with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the aim is to promote an entrepreneurial culture among young people, with higher education institutions that develop the skills needed in the labor market,” World Bank Operations Officer Karine Pezzani said. [World Bank, 2/25/2016]
Also of interest
Saudi economy minister to spearhead reform (analysis) | Reuters
Eni unveils new successful exploration activities in Egypt | Reuters
Poor Egyptians pay the price for foreign currency crisis | euronews
Egypt to issue international tender for oil, gas drilling | Amwal Al Ghad
Egypt’s fuel subsidies drop 42 percent in first half of fiscal year | Ahram Online
Iraqi Kurdish oil pipeline seen shut for two more weeks | Reuters
Minister says Turkey’s inflation to fall to 7.5 percent by year-end | Reuters
Russia’s Gazprom reduces gas supplies to Turkey amid row | Hurriyet
Russia says proposed oil output freeze should last at least a year | Reuters