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.
Depreciation of emerging market currencies, combined with low commodities prices, have made investors around the globe nervous
Global growth at further risk from Chinese asset price deflation, and US interest rate increases, Moody's says
Traders fear Chinese government will withdraw support measures markets
European Commission president 'convinced' three-year plan will boost investment in EU
Deal aims to bolster fight against tax fraud through exchange of financial information on Turks holding accounts in US and vice versa
Vessels were delivered to port of Alexandria on June 17
The economic cost of violence according to the 2015 Global Peace Index has reached a staggering $14.3 trillion with Syria the least peaceful country.
The leading opposition lawmaker has said that Turkish President Erdogan is open to all possiblities for a coalition.
Qatar has filed a lawsuit against the leader of the National Front in France for his comments regarding "terror" activities.
Saudi Arabia will put in place an electronic bracelet system for all pilgrims visiting the country to perform their Hajj duties.
After U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen indicated that the central bank was poised to raise interest rates, European stock markets fall.
Italian company Enel will invest 18 billion euro for renewable energy sources in Africa.
Azerbaijani president said in a statement that Southern Gas Corridor project will supply neighboring and European countries for a 100 years
Oil prices rose above $60 due to Iran's call for oil production cut
Economic growth in the Euro-Zone is not at desired levels.
Director and Global Head of Islamic Finance at Standard & Poor's says that growing market for sukuk and new players mark 'significant interest' in Islamic finance.