World Bulletin / News Desk
Morocco has received the first slice of a $2.5 billion aid package promised by wealthy Gulf Arab states, a Moroccan official said on Friday, part of a pledge designed to cement ties between Arab monarchies in the wake of regional uprisings.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait agreed in Dec. 2011 to distribute $2.5 billion to both Morocco and Jordan, the only two Arab states outside the Gulf with monarchies.
"The valves are opened and we hope they will continue to be so," said the Moroccan official, who declined to be named and would not say how much money had been transferred.
Sources said the North African country had finalised the agreement with the Gulf Arab states on the margins of the Arab Social and Economic Development Summit in Riyadh last month.
Analysts say the move to forge closer links between regional monarchies is part of a concerted effort to contain the pro-democracy unrest that has ousted autocratic ruling elites in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Libya.
Rabat is anxious to avoid a drop in living standards and to prevent a return to the street protests for political and economic reforms which King Mohammed managed to stifle in 2011 with constitutional reforms, social spending and harsh policing.
The cash-strapped country relies on foreign aid, given its $90-billion economy is heavily exposed to the debt-scarred euro zone through trade, tourism revenues and migrant remittances.
Its trade gap was 7.9 percent higher in December than a year ago at a record 197.2 billion dirhams ($23.6 billion) largely due to a surge of imports of energy and wheat imports, which the state heavily subsidises.
The government now aims to cut the budget deficit to 4.8 percent of the GDP in 2013 from 6 percent in 2012, and projects GDP growth of 4.5 percent this year, after 2.8 percent in 2012.
Morocco raised $1.5 billion via a bond sale in December, which lifted its foreign currency reserves to 140 billion dirhams - but that only covers about four months of import needs, which economists say is an uncomfortably low level.
In August, the International Monetary Fund approved a $6.2 billion precautionary line of credit for the North African country, to be treated as "insurance" in case economic conditions deteriorated further.
Ursula von der Leyen held talks with her Saudi counterpart, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, on boosting the "excellent bilateral relations" between the two countries, the mission added.
Most analysts predict president Mario Draghi will extend an 80-billion-euro ($86-billion) per month bond-buying scheme beyond the current March deadline at his press conference.
A record-setting wave of Chinese investment abroad has fuelled concern in Beijing over capital flight, reckless spending overseas, and the yuan's fall against the US dollar.
The deal is part of a broader privatisation drive and comes despite Moscow being mired in Western sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine that have played a major part in plunging the country into recession.
Germany’s ambassador to Ankara says German companies operating in Turkey should think about tomorrow
After months of disagreement, OPEC members last week hammered out a deal to cut oil output for the first time in eight years.
Ali Shareef al-Emadi predicted growth of 3.4 percent in 2017, in line with an International Monetary Fund estimate and up from a projected 3.2 percent this year.
"Many citizens in advanced economies are facing heightened uncertainty, lamenting a loss of control and losing trust in the system," Carney said in a speech at Liverpool's John Moores University.
European stock markets are also set for a weak start, with Italy underperforming as investors brace for turbulence and political crisis in the euro zone's heavily indebted third-largest economy.
The euro tumbled on Monday after Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said he would resign as he conceded defeat in a referendum over his plan to reform the constitution
Rouhani's 2017-2018 budget is based on oil prices of $50 per barrel, up from $40 last year, with a focus on unemployment, water resources, railways and the environment.
Turkish parliament has already ratified the deal on construction of ‘TurkStream’ natural gas pipeline
The September rate was revised to 9.9 percent from the 10 percent first given last month.
Many analysts had expected the producers' cartel to fail to reach a deal as major players like Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia remained divided ahead of the meeting.
The report, which collects views of economists, business contacts and others in the 12 Federal Reserve districts in preparation for the monetary policy meeting next month, noted improved retail sales and home construction in most regions.