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Middle East & African Monitor – 27 July 2017

  • Will Trump Pull US Out Of Nuclear Accord With Iran?
  • “We Have To Go On Without Qatar” – UAE Minister.
  • Libyan Ceasefire Agreement Reached - Challenges Remain.
  • Drop In Crude Stocks Continue To Buoy Prices – PVDSA May Face Sanctions.
  • Bahrain Prepares For Fresh Bond Issuances.
  • More Sectors In KSA To Be Closed To Expats.
  • Tanzania Slaps Mining Firm With US$190 Bio Fine.
  • ASIC & ADGM Sign Fintech Agreement.

REGIONAL COMMENTARY

Will Trump Pull US Out Of Nuclear Accord With Iran?
In an article published by the WSJ earlier this week, President Donald Trump gave another strong indication, that his administration may be preparing to either withdraw from the JCPOA agreement on Iran’s Nuclear program, or is considering a new round of sanctions on top of those recently proposed for Tehran’s separate “malign” activities. The first step towards clarity over this could come as soon as the next review over Iran’s compliance with the accord, which takes place every 3 months and which was last certified by the US on the 18th of July 2017. “We have given them the benefit of every doubt, we’re doing very detailed studies, and, personally, I have great respect for my people. If it was up to me, I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago. We’ll talk about the subject in 90 days, but I would be surprised if they were in compliance,” Trump was quoted as saying by the newspaper, and then later underlined the issue again during a speech in Ohio in which he said, “If that deal doesn’t conform to what it’s supposed to conform to, it’s going to be big, big problems for them, that I can tell you, believe me.” Meanwhile the US State Department has dismissed rumours that Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, may be preparing to resign from his post, adding that he now back at his desk after taking some time off work to recover from his recent “mega-overseas trip,” including his shuttle diplomacy efforts in the Gulf. CNN had claimed earlier this week that Tillerson could be planning to leave by the end of this year over his alleged policy differences with the White House, and the way President Trump has recently publically criticized the US attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“We Have To Go On Without Qatar” – UAE Minister.
The UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash, issued a series of Tweets late on Wednesday suggesting that the dispute with Doha could be prolonged, and thus the UAE and its regional allies now needed to look beyond it. “We have to go on without Qatar,” Gargash said adding “Now that Qatar crisis has taken so long, important to look beyond ‘crisis’ & think of it as new set of relations in Gulf replacing old ones.” Two of the tweets read. All of his comments were published by Gulf News and you can read them in full via this link; http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/qatar/qatar-crisis/uae-we-have-to-go-on-without-qatar-1.2064852 Meanwhile according to a statement published by WAM (the UAE’s state media outlet) this morning, the UAE CB has issued a directive to all banks and financial institutions to freeze the accounts of those 18 individuals and entities accused of having extremist ties, and suspected of being directly or indirectly linked to Qatar, who were published in the new blacklist announced earlier this week.

Libyan Ceasefire Agreement Reached - Challenges Remain.
The current head of Libya’s GNA administration based in Tripoli, Fayez Al Serraj, and the Tobruk backed head of the Libyan National Army, Field Marshall Haftar, signed an agreement in Paris yesterday covering both a nationwide ceasefire and steps towards a potential general election next year. "We commit to a ceasefire and to refrain from any use of armed force for any purpose that does not strictly constitute counterterrorism," the two men said, referring to the country’s separate and ongoing fight against Islamic militants. Many hurdles remain however, and the first tricky one of these is likely to be the dissolution and integration of militia groups loyal to Tripoli and absorption into a national army commanded by Haftar, a key proposal agreed upon by the Paris accord yesterday.

Drop In Crude Stocks Continue To Buoy Prices – PVDSA May Face Sanctions.
Oil prices hit two month highs yesterday boosted by the latest EIA report which showed that US crude stocks had fallen by 7.2 mio barrels last week against earlier forecasts of a 2.5 mio drop. Distillate supplies also declined by 1.9 mio barrels against expectations of just 800,000. Meanwhile the domestic political situation in Venezuela, which we have previously advised oil watchers to keep an eye on, continues to deteriorate and the US has now announced plans to sanction 13 Venezuelan officials for alleged corruption, and threatened further measures if the government of Nicolas Maduro proceeds with plans to try and rewrite the Latin American country’s constitution at the end of this month. Possible US sanctions on PDVSA, the state-owned, oil giant would be a knock-out punch on the already financially stressed firm, it could also push crude prices higher in the short-term as Venezuela is the largest exporter of oil to the US after Canada and Saudi Arabia.

Bahrain Prepares For Fresh Bond Issuances.
According to a Reuters article yesterday, Bahrain’s MOF has asked a number of banks to submit their proposals to potentially arrange a US Dollar conventional and Sukuk issuance which could be held as early as September. Bahrain raised US$2bio via both types of international bonds in October last year. For those of you that may have missed our recent H1 2017 GCC Fixed Income review you can access it here: https://www.nbad.com/content/dam/NBAD/insights-2017/documents/gcc-fixed-income/gcc-fixed-income-chart-book_1H%202017_05Jul17.pdf

More Sectors In KSA To Be Closed To Expats.
According to a Reuters article, which quotes Saudi Arabia’s daily Okaz newspaper, the Kingdom’s Labour Ministry is reportedly planning to ban the employment of foreign workers in tourism, certain health care roles, the Al Qaseem markets and shopping malls. According to the article, the ministry is hopeful that up to 33,000 Saudis will be employed in the tourism sector alone by the end of next year. Currently, 60% of the jobs in this specific sector are held by Saudi citizens.

Tanzania Slaps Mining Firm With US$190 Bio Fine.
Tanzania’s Revenue Authority has reportedly issued the UK based Acacia Mining company with a US$190 bio fine for what it claims are unpaid taxes as well as relevant penalties for alleged undeclared export revenues covering the period 2000-2017. In response Acacia said in a statement that it "disputes these assessments," and is "considering all of its options and rights. The enormous fine represents close to 40 times Acacia’s total revenues last year, and over 4 times the size of Tanzania’s estimated US$47 bio annual GDP number.

ASIC & ADGM Sign Fintech Agreement.
Australia’s Securities and Investment Commission and the Abu Dhabi Global Market’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority have signed an agreement to provide mutual support to fintech businesses from Australia and/or the UAE seeking to operate in each other's markets. This agreement follows similar ones concluded recently between ADGM and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority, and the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone.

27-07-2017

AND FINALLY…
“Write bad things that are done to you in sand, but write the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble” – Arabic Proverb.

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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