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Middle East & African Monitor – 7 June 2017

  • US Senate Prepares To Vote On New Iran Sanctions Bill – Shootings Reported In Tehran.
  • Nigeria’s President “Recuperating Well.”
  • Jordan, Mauritius & Mauritania Join Diplomatic Campaign Against Qatar.
  • VAT Registration In The UAE Set To Begin Soon.
  • Kenyan Government To Guarantee National Airline’s Debt.
  • Rise Of Unemployment In Nigeria.
  • Egypt’s FX Reserves Hit US$31 Bio.
  • Inflation In Mauritius Jumps.

REGIONAL COMMENTARY

US Senate Prepares To Vote On New Iran Sanctions Bill – Shootings Reported In Tehran.
Members of the US Senate are set to vote this week on a bill called the “Iran destabilizing activities act” which if passed would focus on Tehran’s ballistic missile program and include a more wide-ranging arms embargo. The sanctions would penalize anyone involved in the missile program and enable the US to seize the assets of any person or company proved to be involved in the sale, supply or transfer of prohibited weapons to or from Iran. The architect of the bill is the Republican Senator Bob Corker, who also serves as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and who claimed last month that “We can no longer allow the nuclear agreement with Iran to dictate US policy throughout the Middle East, and this bill is an important first step in finally holding Iran accountable for their nonnuclear destabilizing activities.” Meanwhile there have been various media reports this morning of an ongoing shootout taking place within the parliament building in Tehran and near the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini. The BBC has said a number of people have reportedly been injured, and that one attacker had initiated an explosion in front of a bank opposite the shrine.

Nigeria’s President “Recuperating Well.”
Nigeria’s President Buhari who has been receiving further treatment in London for an unspecified illness, is expected to return to his country this weekend. According to ‘NaijaNews’ the President will fly back to Abuja on Saturday while his wife has claimed that he is “recuperating fast.” Buhari spent 7 weeks receiving medical care in the UK earlier this year but was flown back to London on the 7th of May after he missed a number of cabinet meetings due to a worsening of his condition. During his absence the leadership of the country is the responsibility of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who this week approached parliament for their approval of a government proposal to borrow a further US$1.5 bio from overseas lenders to fund a number of infrastructure projects across the country.

Jordan, Mauritius & Mauritania Join Diplomatic Campaign Against Qatar.
Jordan announced last night that it had decided to downgrade its diplomatic relations with Qatar and has cancelled the Al Jazeera television channel’s domestic operating license. “After studying the causes of the crisis witnessed in the ties between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain and Qatar, the government has decided to reduce diplomatic representation with the State of Qatar and revoke the license of Al Jazeera channel's office in the Kingdom,” a spokesperson for the Jordanian government was quoted as saying by Reuters. Meanwhile according to CNN, Mauritania and Mauritius have also cut all diplomatic ties with Doha, and Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have ordered Qatar Airways to shut its offices in both countries within 48 hours.

VAT Registration In The UAE Set To Begin Soon.
The UAE’s tax authority has announced that companies will be able to begin registering for VAT during the 3rd quarter of this year, but will need to complete this process before the end of 2017 as the tax is set to be introduced at the beginning of 2018. According to ‘Gulf News’ businesses with taxable goods over the threshold of AED 375,000 will be required to register. You can read more information about the planned implementation of VAT across the GCC in our latest research piece on the subject here: https://www.nbad.com/en-ns/insight-and-features/mena-and-global-markets/big-stories/2017/vat-and-the-gcc.html

Kenyan Government To Guarantee National Airline’s Debt.
The Kenyan government has said that it will guarantee KES77 bio of Kenya Airway’s debt to lessors and local banks which would enable the firm to extend its loan repayments out to 10 years. A treasury official added that this move may also see the government enlarge its stake in the company from its current level of 29.80% to over 50%. The airline had racked up debt totaling US$1.9 bio by the end of the last financial year according to a recent Bloomberg report.

Unemployment In Nigeria Continues To Rise.
Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose to 14.20% during the last quarter of 2016, a ninth consecutive quarterly increase. The acuteness of this situation was underlined in a report published by “Quartz’ which claimed that there had been 700,000 applications for just 500 positions recently advertised by the Federal tax department, and almost one million people had applied for 10,000 vacancies offered by the Nigerian Police Force.

Egypt’s FX Reserves Hit US$31 Bio.
Egypt’s foreign exchange reserves rose by 8.70% to US$31.12 bio in May its highest level since 2011. This latest rise was due primarily to the country’s successful Eurobond issuance.

Inflation In Mauritius Jumps.
Headline inflation in Mauritius jumped to 5.90% y/y in May against 2.90% in April due primarily to a sharp rise in food prices.

07-06-2017

AND FINALLY…
Did you know that Abu Dhabi’s Capital Gate Tower leans 4 times further than Italy’s Tower of Pisa, and is considered to be the world’s furthest leaning man-made structure?

Glenn Wepener, Executive Director & Geopolitical Analyst Middle East & Africa
National Bank of Abu Dhabi
MarketInsights&Strategy@nbad.com
Tel: +971 2 6110 127

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