North Africa/Middle East

A delegation from the International Monetary Fund will start talks in Lebanon on March 29, Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Saturday, expressing hope of a deal in the coming weeks, Reuters reported. "Next Tuesday they will start their mission in Lebanon," he told reporters on the sidelines of the Doha Forum in Qatar. "Hopefully ... by the end of two weeks we will see the light," Mikati said. The Lebanese pound has lost more than 90% of its value since 2019, when the financial system collapsed, plunging the majority of Lebanese into poverty, according to UN agencies.
Read more
The Egyptian pound slipped further against the dollar on Wednesday, after Egypt’s Central Bank raised its main interest rate and devalued the currency by 14%, the Associated Press reported. The moves by the Central Bank of Egypt were meant to combat inflationary waves triggered by the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine, which hiked oil prices to record highs. Banks were selling the U.S. currency at more than 18.5 pounds while buying it at over 18.45. By mid-day Wednesday, it was sold at 18.42 pounds and bought at 18.32.
Read more
When a Lebanese bank told Aref Yassin it had closed accounts worth $20 million belonging to the professional syndicate he heads and issued a cheque for the balance that was worth a fifth of its face value, he took the matter to court, Reuters reported. The money, saved from engineers' subscriptions and deposited at Fransabank, was earmarked for healthcare and pensions covered by the syndicate for about 100,000 people who now face losing a lifeline in a country in the third year of an economic meltdown.
Read more

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and his Saudi Arabian counterpart on Wednesday agreed to strengthen bilateral economic relations on the first day of the diplomat's 10-day tour of the Middle East and India, Mexico's government said, Reuters reported. Ebrard and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud discussed investing in tourism and innovation, highlighting the need for a direct air route between Mexico and Saudi Arabia, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Read more

Tunisia's president said on Monday there would be a national dialogue about the country's political system as he moves to rewrite the constitution after establishing one-man rule, but he gave no details on how it would take place, Reuters reported. President Kais Saied has already held an online consultation to canvas public opinion about the new constitution, and has promised to name a panel of lawyers to draft it and put it to a referendum in July.

Read more

A small team of International Monetary Fund staff will visit Tunisia later this month for further discussions about a possible IMF-supported financing program, the global lender said on Thursday, citing good progress in discussions to date, Reuters reported. IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice said the visit comes after several months of consultations with Tunisian authorities on their request for a fund-supported program. "A small staff team from the IMF plans to visit Tunisia for further discussions with the authorities later this month ...

Read more

Dubai-owned P&O Ferries on Thursday suspended its passenger and freight ships but denied the group was heading into bankruptcy, Times of Malta reported. P&O Ferries operates four routes serving Britain, France, Ireland and the Netherlands. “P&O Ferries is not going into liquidation,” the company owned by DP World said in a statement. “We have asked all ships to come alongside (return to dock), in preparation for a company announcement.

Read more

While debt has been a problem for millennia, contemporary international institutions have focused on alternative dispute resolutions for commercial disputes for only decades, according to an analysis in mediate.com. according to an analysis in mediate.com. In the late ’90s many developing countries experienced financial distress. In 1999, the World Bank began to analyze the problem and in 2001developed the “Insolvency and Creditor Rights Standards” (ICR Standards). The focus was on judicial proceedings. The possibility of resorting to mediation was regarded as entirely residual.

Read more

It seemed a facetious question, one intended to provoke the star witness: “Do you think you are good at lying?” But it is the crucial issue at the center of what is likely to be the only trial on U.S. soil in one of the largest international kleptocracy cases in history, the looting of billions of dollars from the people of Malaysia, the New York Times reported.

Read more
Egypt's annual urban consumer price inflation surged to its highest in nearly three years in February, driven by a sharp increase in food prices, figures from the state statistics agency CAPMAS showed on Thursday, Reuters reported. Inflation rose to 8.8% year on year from 7.3% in January, putting it near the upper limit of the central bank's 5-9% target range and indicating that the bank's monetary policy committee may increase interest rates when it meets on March 24. February's inflation figure was the highest since June 2019.
Read more