EconSource: Tunisia Gets $230 Million World Bank Loan to Link Interior to Cities

Tunisia has obtained a $230 million loan from the World Bank to build and expand 146 kilometers of roadways to the most isolated regions in the country. The Tunisian government wants to boost living standards in poor and remote areas where repeated strikes and sit-ins have had a negative effect. The project would connect around 373,500 people living in the poorest regions to the coastal cities that offer more economic opportunities, a statement from the Bank said. The project is the Bank’s first engagement with road improvements in Tunisia in ten years. It aims to increase private sector investment and “combine the rehabilitation of infrastructure with softer measures to promote sustainable employment.” [Reuters, 7/15/2015]

Moody’s upgrades Egypt’s banking system’s outlook to stable
Moody’s Investors Service says it has upgraded Egypt’s banking system outlook to stable from negative, expecting the sector’s operating conditions to improve as economic growth accelerates and the government pushes through with economic reforms. In a statement on Wednesday, the credit rating agency said it expects Egypt’s economy to expand 5 percent in the fiscal year ending June 2016 as a result of “large, government-led infrastructure projects, increased foreign investment, and a rise in tourism.” Moody’s said it expects economic reforms to lead to rising consumer confidence and more business investments, which would increase loan growth from banks. [AP, 7/15/2015]

Turkey’s Finance Minister says early election would prolong economic risk
Turkish economic growth would take a hit if talks to form a coalition government fail and an early election is called, Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek said on Wednesday. He warned that political uncertainty would risk delaying private investment. “Having an election again is of course a negative scenario because another election means in a sense facing uncertainty through virtually the whole of 2015,” he said. Simsek added that inflation will likely continue to fall in 2015 if oil prices remain low and a normalization in food prices continues. A central bank survey echoed his optimism; business leaders now expect year-end inflation to fall to 7.71 percent, down from 7.77 percent forecast last month. [Reuters, 7/15/2015]

Iraq’s Kurds bypass Baghdad for July oil exports
Iraqi Kurds are independently selling oil produced in their region, bypassing Iraq’s state crude marketer (SOMO) for all exports so far this month, said spokesman for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Safeen Dizayee. Oil fields in the semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq are producing about 700,000 barrels of oil a day, says Dizayee. The KRG is exporting as much as 600,000 barrels of that amount daily and has not sold oil via SOMO since June. Commenting on the KRG’s independent sales, Director General of the Legal Department at the Oil Ministry in Baghdad Laith al-Shaher said, “All oil sales that happen outside SOMO are illegal.” [Bloomberg, 7/15/2015]

Also of interest
Rebounding oil may support Gulf, Q2 earnings mixed | Reuters
Mixed earnings cap Saudi stock gains; Egypt extends recovery | Reuters
Profiling the economic interests of the Gulf states (analysis) | Stratfor
OPEC members disagree over prospect of new oil supplies from Iran | WSJ
Iran gears up for trade and investment boom that could reshape region | Reuters
Arabian Gulf sovereign wealth funds pick new plays | The National
Egypt’s Investment Minister cites upward trend in economic indicators | DNE
Cheap oil helps push down Morocco’s January-June trade deficit by 24 percent | Reuters