EconSource: Saudi Arabia Announces Oil Assistance, Investments for Egypt

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Tuesday pledged a total of $8 billion in investment and aid to Egypt over the next five years. Saudi ships will also “support” traffic in the Suez Canal. The announcement came as Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman was in Cairo for talks with Prime Minister Sherif Ismail on Tuesday. A follow-up meeting between Saudi and Egyptian officials is scheduled to take place on January 5. In addition, an anonymous Saudi government official said that Saudi Arabia may also support Egypt by buying local treasury bonds and treasury bills instead of depositing dollars with the Central Bank of Egypt. Egypt’s cabinet had said that the government planned to offer Saudi Arabia “major” projects in return for its support. [AP, AFP, Bloomberg, Reuters, Ahram Online, 12/15/2015]

AfDB approves $1.5 billion loan to Egypt
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a $1.5 billion loan to Egypt that will be paid over three years, International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr said Tuesday. The first $500 million of the loan will arrive within days and will go toward the government’s economic development program, Nasr said. “We have a competitive economic reform program that started more than a year back and based on that we are taking the first tranche,” she said. “The bank’s approval today is a strong message affirming that the Egyptian economy is moving at a steady pace towards achieving comprehensive development and confirms that the bank is confident in the government’s reform process,” AfDB Representative Leila Mokaddem said. [Reuters, DNE, MENA, 12/15/2015]

ISIS eyeing oil targets beyond Syria stronghold
The Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) is looking at potentially vulnerable oil assets in Libya and elsewhere outside of Syria, a senior US official said Tuesday. The official said the United States is carefully examining who controls oil fields, pipelines, trucking routes, and other infrastructure in places that could be vulnerable to attack, including Libya and the Sinai Peninsula. The United States recently targeted fuel trucks, part of a broadening of its strikes on ISIS’s oil wealth, which the official said has shown anecdotal signs of raising the costs of ISIS’s oil operations. “The costs of [oil] operation have gone up and the ability to move [oil] around has gone down,” the official said. [Reuters, 12/16/2015]

Turkey to receive EUR 3 billion for refugees
Turkey will receive EUR 3 billion euros ($3.27 billion) from the European Union (EU) within the next year to spend on Syrian refugees, Turkey’s EU Minister Volkan Bozkir said Wednesday. Bozkir said Turkey is negotiating with the EU on how to spend the money. Since the beginning of the Syrian war in 2011, Turkey has spent around EUR 8 billion euros ($8.73 billion) on providing for the refugee population, Bozkir said. On Monday, the EU opened a new chapter in Turkey’s accession process that aims to bring Turkey in line with EU economic and monetary policy. Turkey and the EU aim to double trade to $300 billion in the next two years, Bozkir noted. [Anadolu Agency, 12/16/2015]

Kuwait expects 2015-16 budget deficit at between 5-6 billion dinars
Kuwait expects its 2015-16 budget deficit to be between 5 and 6 billion dinars ($16.5-$19.8 billion), Finance Ministry Undersecretary Khalifa Hamada said Wednesday. The figure is lower than the previously projected 8.18 billion dinars. Hamada also said that Kuwait plans to unify corporate taxes on local and foreign companies at 10 percent and that he expects revenues from such a move to exceed 2 billion dinars a year. He also said Kuwait is still studying better management of fuel subsidies and that any changes would begin with petrol. He said that better management of fuel subsidies would earn the country 1 billion dinars in savings. [Reuters, 12/16/2015]

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