New US Sanctions Bill On Iran May Be Complicated By Russia Debate.
A recently proposed bi-partisan bill that would enact fresh sanctions on Iran, and which we detailed in our previous commentary, is reportedly facing some headwinds due to disagreement within the Senate over demands by some members, that the Iranian bill should be linked to a separate proposal on implementing tighter sanctions on Russia due to that country’s alleged interference in last year’s US elections. The Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer (Democrat), Senator John McCain (Republican) and Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican) are calling for the existing Russian sanctions to be signed into law, which in turn would make it more difficult for the President to reverse them, and for new penalties against Moscow to be added. A final vote on all this is allegedly due to take place this week, but according to a recent ‘Politico’ magazine article, a failure to reach an agreement on further Russian sanctions, could also hamstring the Iranian bill as Schumer has indicated that his party and a certain number of Republicans would find it “difficult” to approve one without the other. "We feel strongly that we need a tough, effective package of Russia sanctions to move alongside the Iran sanctions," Schumer was quoted as saying late last week.
Nigerian President’s Return Home Delayed Yet Again.
Nigeria’s President Buhari had been expected to return home from the UK this past weekend, after numerous reports suggested that he had recovered sufficiently to do so. However a statement released by the Presidency on Saturday claimed that his doctors wanted to carry out some further tests this week before deciding when he would be well enough to travel. The President has been back in London receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness since the 7th of May.
GCC Allies Exempt Qatari Spouses From Departure Order.
According to an article in yesterday’s ‘National’ newspaper, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have announced that Qataris, who are immediate relatives of their own citizens, are exempted on humanitarian grounds from having to leave the respective state involved. "The wellbeing of the brotherly Qatari people is a natural authentic
extension of the brotherly UAE people," the WAM state news agency said. You can read the entire article here: http://www.thenational.ae/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-and-the-uae-exempt-qatari-spouses-caught-in-gcc-crisis Meanwhile China’s COSCO Shipping Line has joined Taiwan’s Evergreen and Hong Kong based OOCL in suspending their services to and from Qatar’s main port. "In view of the uncertainties as the situation develops, and in order to protect the interests of customers, our company is from now on suspending booking services and deliveries for Qatar," a statement issued by COSCO and published by Reuters this morning read.
Crude Prices Find Some Support After Saudi/Russia Comments.
Oil prices rose slightly this morning, seemingly motivated by comments over the weekend from both Saudi Arabia and Russia’s Energy Ministers indicating that they, as well as the other signatories of the OPEC/NOPEC output reduction agreement, were committed to driving the market into balance. “We have discussed the current situation, we have once again confirmed a commitment to the agreement and we will work together on the market regulation," Alexander Novak stated adding; “As of today, supply is exceeding demand, and we see that global inventory is dropping, but to ensure a true market balance, it is required that the inventory drops down to the five-year average, and we are sure that it will happen in the next few quarters, probably, by the end of the first quarter of the next year." His comments were backed by Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister, Khalid Al Falih, who also suggested that the current situation over Qatar should not have any real impact on oil prices. "Qatar is a member of the OPEC organization and is a signatory of the 24-member agreement that has just been extended. We trust that they will continue to abide, but their overall contribution in terms of the cuts is rather insignificant in the overall scheme of things," Al Falih was quoted as saying by CNBC.
Zambia Hopes To Seal US$1.32 Bio IMF Loan.
A senior IMF official has said that his agency may provide Zambia with a 3-year US$1.3 bio credit facility soon in order to help the country deal with an economic slump, which has been driven in part by the sharp drop in commodity prices especially copper. In order to meet the IMF’s criteria for this proposed loan facility, the Zambian government has reportedly promised to reduce its budget deficit, (which currently stands at 7% of GDP), cut borrowing, improve general revenue collection and suspend or cancel non-essential projects. The IMF’s board will decide in August on whether or not to approve this facility.
KCB Proposes Takeover Of National Bank Of Kenya.
The KCB Group has proposed a takeover of the National Bank of Kenya via a share swap. According to Reuters, KCB has offered to initially take 70% of NBK shares and then announce its terms for the remaining balance at a later date. KCB is the country’s largest financial institution with around KES 480 billion in assets. (2016)
Morocco’s Parliament Approves 2017 Budget.
After an extended delay, Moroccan MPs finally passed the new government’s proposed budget last week. This latest budget forecasts a deficit of just 3% of GDP in 2017 which is slightly lower than last year and a massive improvement from the fiscal situation the country faced back in 2012. Morocco has implemented a series of economic reforms over the past few years, including the removal of petrol subsidies, in order to stabilize government finances.
EDF Wins Consultancy Contract In UAE.
Electricite de France has been awarded a consultancy contract for the 250MW hydroelectric power project at the Hatta Dam in the UAE. The French company will carry out design, hydro-geological, environmental, geotechnical and deep excavation studies for the project.
Did you know that the word "Coffee" originally came from the Arabic term "Qahhwat al-bun" which roughly translated means "drink of the bean?" That phrase turned into "Qahwah," which became "Kahveh" in Turkey and eventually became "Koffie" in Dutch/Afrikaans and "Caffe" in Italy.
Glenn Wepener, Executive Director & Geopolitical Analyst Middle East & Africa
National Bank of Abu Dhabi
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