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Middle East & African Monitor – 16 April 2018

  • Iran Could Restart The Enrichment Of Uranium Within A 4 Day Period – AEOI.
  • Russia Looks To Replace US$ & EUR Use In Energy Related Payments.
  • OPEC’s Crude Output Falls Again.
  • Egypt Calls For Fresh Talks Over Controversial Ethiopian Dam.
  • Moody’s Affirms Its Ratings On Saudi Arabia – Issues Warning On Turkey. 
  • Egypt Unveils Draft Budget For 2018/19.
  • Uganda Plans US$4 Bio Refinery.
  • NGN Sukuk Listed On FMDQ.
  • Angola’s Inflation Rate At 20.90%.
  • ADGM Is Named ‘Fintech Regulator Of The Year’. 

REGIONAL COMMENTARY

Iran Could Restart The Enrichment Of Uranium Within A 4 Day Period – AEOI.
The head of Iran’s atomic energy agency (AEOI) claimed recently that the country’s Fordo facility could swiftly begin enriching uranium again if it was ordered to do so. "If senior Islamic Republic officials issue an order to resume the 20% enrichment, we can do it in Fordo within 4 days," Ali Akbar Salehi, was quoted as saying by Iran’s state media, adding that his department had made "extensive progress in other parts of its nuclear activities which go beyond the previous levels." His comments follow President Rohani’s warning last Monday that if Washington overturned the JCPOA agreement “they will regret it.” Meanwhile Mike Pompeo, the current nominee to become the next US Secretary of State, said during his Senate confirmation hearing last week that he planned to “fix” the Iran nuclear accord by working with America’s allies to “achieve a better outcome and a better deal.”

Russia Looks To Replace US$ & EUR Use In Energy Related Payments.
Russia’s Energy Minister, Alexander Novak, was quoted by the RT media outlet late last week suggesting that Moscow was seeking to utilize national currencies with regards to energy-related payments occurring between his country and its various trade partners such as China, Turkey and Iran. “There is a common understanding that we need to move towards the use of national currencies in our settlements, there is a need for this, as well as the wish of the parties. This concerns both Turkey and Iran, we are considering an option of payment in national currencies with them. This requires certain adjustments in the financial, economic and banking sectors, ” Novak stated. Meanwhile according a report published via the RIA news service this morning, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, has accused the US of abusing the status of the US dollar as the world’s primary reserve currency.

OPEC’s Crude Output Falls Again.
Oman’s Oil Minister, Mohammed bin Hamad al Rumhi, said today that the signatories to the OPEC/NOPEC crude output cut agreement must continue to cooperate despite the improvement in prices and building demand. "Definitely now is better than yesterday, but the monkey is still on our shoulder, It is not over yet," al Rumhi was quoted as saying by Reuters. In relation to this question, his Kuwaiti counterpart, Bakhit al Rashidi, said that a decision over whether or not to extend the current output agreement would be dependent on market conditions, and be made before the end of this year. Meanwhile latest data provided by OPEC showed that total output by the organization’s members fell by 201,000 bpd last month to 31.96 mio bpd.

Egypt Calls For Fresh Talks Over Controversial Ethiopian Dam.
Egypt has called for a second round of talks with Sudan and Ethiopia over the latter’s controversial dam project. This call follows the failure to reach an agreement on the issue earlier this month. Meanwhile Cairo has denied media claims that it hindered a successful outcome of the previous discussions, with a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry saying that Egypt was keen to reach a consensus with all parties and had even called for the World Bank’s participation in the tripartite negotiations, in order to “prove its goodwill.” Once complete the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will be the largest roller-compacted concrete reservoir in the world and is being constructed on the Blue Nile, which in turn is the source for almost all of Egypt’s fresh water, and thus underlines the sensitivity of the project.

Moody’s Affirms Its Ratings On Saudi Arabia – Issues Warning On Turkey.
Moody’s Investor Services has retained its long-term issuer and unsecured ratings on Saudi Arabia at A1 with a stable outlook. In a statement detailing its decision the agency said that in their view ; “The modification of the ‘Fiscal Balance Program’ announced in January 2018, to delay the achievement of a balanced budget to 2023 instead of 2020, makes the fiscal reform momentum more sustainable, the fiscal targets more realistic, and the overall fiscal consolidation and diversification program more credible. A more relaxed consolidation will allow for smoother absorption of energy and water price increases by the consumers and businesses and create room to support non-oil economic growth through targeted support programs. If progress is maintained in line with Moody’s expectations, the reforms will help to sustain the recent increase in the relative size of the non-oil sector of the economy even as the oil sector recovers, and gradually reduce the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia’s economy and public sector balance sheet to declines in oil prices.” Meanwhile Moody’s warned in a separate note this morning that the ongoing fall in value of the Lira was “credit-negative’ for Turkey’s sovereign debt ratings, due to the country’s external vulnerabilities and relatively low-level of FX reserves, adding that; “The government appears determined to keep the economy growing rapidly ahead of national elections scheduled for November 2019, regardless of the costs.” Moody’s downgraded Turkeys credit ratings to Ba2 last month, whilst the IMF stated recently that the Turkish economy “now faces signs of overheating, a positive output gap, inflation well above target, and a wider current account deficit."

Egypt Unveils Draft Budget For 2018/19.
Egypt’s draft budget for the 2018/19 fiscal year targets a primary surplus of 2% of GDP, according to a statement by the country’s Finance Ministry late last Friday. The draft reportedly took into account a forecast GDP growth rate of 5.80%, deeper subsidy cuts, an increase in tax revenues, an average oil price of US$67 and expectation that inflation will decline further towards 10.00%. The proposed budget needs to be approved by parliament and then signed by President Sisi before the end of June.

Uganda Plans US$4 Bio Refinery.
Uganda’s Ministry of Energy and the National Oil Company have reportedly signed an agreement with a consortium of US and Italian firms, (including Saipem SpA), who will be responsible for financing, designing building and operating a US$4 bio oil refinery near Kabaale in the district of Hoima. Once completed the refinery is expected to be able to process up to 60,000 bpd.

NGN Sukuk Listed On FMDQ.
Nigeria’s debt management office last week listed a 7-year NGN 100 bio ‘Federal Roads’ Islamic bond on its FMDQ OTC securities exchange platform. The bond pays 16.47% and the funds raised will go towards rebuilding Nigeria’s long neglected road system.

Angola’s Inflation Rate At 20.90%.
Angola’s inflation rate eased slightly to 20.90% y/y last month from 21.47% in February.

ADGM Is Named ‘Fintech Regulator Of The Year’.
Abu Dhabi Global market was awarded the title of ‘Fintech Regulator 2018’ during the recent Seamless Middle East awards ceremony. "Within a short span of two years, ADGM has firmly established itself as the financial innovation testbed and champion for the region, and one of the key global FinTech hubs. We would like to sincerely thank the industry and the eminent judges of Seamless Awards 2018 for their strong vote of confidence and encouragement,” the CEO of ADGM’s financial services regulatory authority, Richard Teng, was quoted as saying by the WAM news outlet this morning. 

16-04-2018

AND FINALLY
Did you know that the camel can rehydrate faster than any other mammal on Earth? It can drink up to 30 gallons of water in less than 15 minutes.

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

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