EconSource: Saudi Arabia is Burning Through its Foreign Reserves at a Record Pace

Saudi Arabia is burning through foreign reserves at a record rate as the kingdom seeks to maintain spending plans amid regional turmoil and a slump in oil prices. The kingdom spent $36 billion of the central bank’s net foreign assets, about 5 percent of the total, in February and March, the biggest two-month drop on record. The 48 percent drop in oil prices last year has prompted the government to use reserves and borrow from domestic banks to maintain spending on wages and investments. [Bloomberg, 4/30/2015]

Egypt to cut at least 10 percent of fuel subsidies in fiscal year 2015/16
Egypt will cut at least 10 percent of a current fuel subsidy bill of up to EGP 100 billion in the next fiscal year, according to Finance Minister Hany Qadry. Last year, the government slashed fuel subsidies to narrow the state budget deficit, raising prices at the pump by up to 78 percent. Budget allocations for social spending are planned to increase by 16 percent in the 2015/2016 fiscal year. [Ahram Online, 4/30/2015]

Qatar joins list of countries buying fighter jets from France
President Francois Hollande of France announced on Thursday a multibillion dollar sale of military aircraft to Qatar, the country’s third such deal with a foreign government this year. The French government, in concert with French defense manufacturer Dassault, is on the verge of concluding contracts for up to ninety-six Rafale fighter jets. Of those, India will get thirty-six, Egypt will get twenty-four and Qatar will get twenty-four and an option to buy twelve more. [New York Times, 4/30/2015]

Virtual market place launched for small and medium-sized firms in Tunisia
Two hundred Tunisian small and medium-sized companies in the food industry, crafts, and services will be able to access the Virtual Market Place, a near $2 million project launched by the ministry of trade in cooperation with the World Bank and International Trade Center, in an effort to boost product exports. Personnel from companies with access to Virtual Market Place will benefit from specialized training in e-commerce, a sector significantly on the rise in Tunisia with some 800 specialized websites already functioning. [ANSAmed, 4/30/2015]

Also of interest
Iraq oil exports hit record in April | Reuters
Egypt plans smart card system for fuel | Reuters
Saudi Arabia to restructure Aramco, separate it from oil ministry | Reuters
Egypt’s labor movement could regain momentum despite strike ban | Ahram Online
Libyan Wafa oilfield working, El Feel field still shut by protest | Reuters
Algeria and China pledge to boost relations, investment | Algerie Presse Service