EconSource: World Bank Summary of Global Economic Prospects for MENA

After an easing in tensions in early 2014, the Middle East and North Africa region is again experiencing major—and increasing—security challenges. In addition, since mid-2014, it is also adjusting to the oil price drop. This is a particular challenge for oil-exporting countries, many of which also face severe security issues. For oil-importing countries, the potential positive effect of lower oil prices is partially offset by spillovers from within the region, including through lower remittances and security problems, and by long-standing constraints on growth potential. Growth is expected to average about 2.2 percent in the developing countries of the region in 2015, and to pick up modestly in 2016-17. Risks remain tilted to the downside, more so than in other regions. Policy makers face the challenges of adjusting to lower oil prices and coping with security risks in the short-run, and bolstering growth, employment, and fiscal positions in the long-run. [Global Economic Prospects (Report), 6/11/2015]

Egypt approves proposal to set up sovereign investment fund
The Egyptian government has approved a proposal to set up a sovereign investment fund to support economic development through returns on the state’s assets and resources. The fund, called Amlak, will be state-owned through the National Investment Bank. It will act as the state’s investment arm and aims to encourage diversification and support sustainable economic and social development. A statement by the cabinet said that the state will not manage investments directly. “The aim is to set up a highly effective investment fund that is able to participate with financial institutions and sovereign Arab and international funds in mega-projects,” Planning Minister Ashraf al-Araby said. He did not give details on when the fund would be created or how much money it would manage. [Reuters, 6/11/2015]

Libyan town opposing Tripoli waits for fuel from state oil firm
The western town of Zintan, allied with Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tobruk, has not yet received any fuel from the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC), according to a local official. Ending a fuel blockage lasting more than eight months would improve ties between the NOC and Zintan, whose residents have blocked pipelines to the El Sharara and El Feel oilfields. Last week, the NOC said thirty-one trucks were delivering more than 1 million liters of petrol products to all cities in the western Nafusa mountains. Mayor of Zintan Mustafa al-Barouni said the Zawiya refinery east of Tripoli had supplied all areas in the mountains except his and another town. [Reuters, 6/11/2015]

Tunisian Prime Minister highlights investment at annual forum
Tunisia remains the favorite destination for foreign investors, Prime Minister Habib Essid said Thursday at the official opening of the 2015 Tunis Investment Forum. Essid said that there are currently over 3,000 foreign companies in Tunisia with over 300,000 employees. Foreign direct investment (FDI) for the first quarter of 2015 is estimated at 771 million dinars, which marks an 83 percent increase from the same period in 2014. Essid emphasized the importance of increasing FDI flow in order to spur economic growth, saying it is the best way to achieve an effective partnership with Mediterranean countries. [TAP/All Africa, 6/11/2015],

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