Newsletter North Africa July 2019

Business

MOROCCO – Manufacturer CITIC DICASTAL Opens its First Factory in Africa in Kenitra
CITIC DICASTAL, specialized in manufacturing aluminium alloy wheels and other aluminium parts for the automotive industry, inaugurated its first African factory in Kenitra, Morocco on June 25. The new factory is a Morocco-China industrial cooperation project, part of the “One Road, One Belt” program. The USD 400 mn factory has an annual production capacity of 6 million pieces, and will supply parts to the French car manufacturing giant PSA Group, also based in Kenitra.
June 25, 2019

MOROCCO – Morocco Inaugurates Tanger Med 2 Port Extension in Tangier
Morocco’s Crown Prince inaugurated the Tanger Med 2 port near Tangier on June 28. Tanger Med 2 is a USD 1.3 bn extension to the Tanger Med Port, which is already Africa’s biggest port in container capacity. The extension adds an extra 6 million container capacity to the port. The new Tanger Med 2 port contains two container terminals, licensed to Marsa Maroc, the main operator of ports in Morocco, and to APM Terminals, an international container terminal operating company headquartered in the Netherlands.
June 28, 2019

MOROCCO – Morocco’s Platinum Power and China’s CFHEC to Build USD 300 Mn Hydropower Project
Platinum Power and China First Highway Engineering Co (CFHEC) signed an agreement on July 10 to co-develop, finance, and build a USD 300 mn, 108 MW hydropower plant in central Morocco. The parties announced they would also partner on renewable energy projects elsewhere in Africa. This will be the first time the companies have partnered on a project.
July 10, 2019

TUNISIA – Government Announces Tender for Six 10 MW Solar Projects
Tunisia’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Renewable Energies has put out a tender for the construction of six solar power plants with an installed power capacity of 10 MW each, as well as ten 1 MW solar parks. The tender will be open until November 26. Selected projects will sell electricity to Tunisia’s state-owned utility, Société Tunisienne de l’Electricité et du Gaz (STEG) under a long-term power purchase agreement. The Tunisian government has a strategy to install approximately 1 GW of renewable energy capacity in the period 2017-2020.
July 15, 2019

ALGERIA – Sonatrach and ENEL Renew Their Gas Sales Contract for 10 Years
Government-owned hydrocarbon company Sonatrach and Italian group ENEL have renewed their contract for the purchase and sale of gas for ten years. Under the contract, Sonatrach will provide 3 billion cubic meters of gas per year to ENEL for the next ten years. The companies signed a contract in 2001 for the provision of gas to Italy via the Enrico Mattei gas pipeline.
June 26, 2019

ALGERIA – Concrete and Clinker Exports Increase by 850% in the First Five Months of 2019
According to the Direction for Customs, Algeria exported USD 29.96 mn in concrete and clinker during the first five months of 2019, reports the Algerian Press Agency. This is close to an 850% increase since the same period last year. The Ministry of Industry and Mines aims to increase cement exports to USD 500 mn per year in the next five years. There are currently 17 cement factories in Algeria, with the two main players being Algerian group GICA and the Swiss multinational Lafarge Holcim.
July 20, 2019

ALGERIA – French Car Company PSA Group Launches Works on a New Assembly Factory
PSA Group, which manufactures Peugeot, Citroen, Opel and DS Automobiles cars, officially launched works on a new vehicle assembly factory in Tafraoui near Oran on July 21. The factory should begin operations in the first half of 2020. It will produce 25 000 cars a year in 2020, and up to 75 000 cars a year in the four years after that.
July 21, 2019

Politics

MOROCCO – Morocco Attends African Union Summit, Emphasizing its Stance on Polisario
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita attended the African Union summit in Niamey on July 7, for the launch of the operational phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Bourita emphasized that Morocco’s signature of the AfCFTA agreement was separate from its stance on the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Democratic Republic (SADR): Morocco’s signature “cannot be interpreted as an acknowledgment of a situation, a fact, or an entity it does not recognize […],” he stated. Morocco has rejected any mediation by the African Union on the issue of Western Sahara.
July 7, 2019

TUNISIA – US Secretary Pompeo Meets With Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies
US Secretary Michael Pompeo met with Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui in Washington, D.C. on July 16 as part of a US-Tunisia Strategic Dialogue. Pompeo and Khemaies discussed joint counter-terrorism objectives. Pompeo congratulated Tunisia’s election to the UN Security Council. Pompeo also expressed his support for Tunisia’s efforts to increase bilateral trade. At a meeting on June 14, Pompeo and Khemaies had discussed increasing opportunities for US investment in Tunisia, focusing on three sectors: renewable energy, manufacturing, and engineering and construction.
July 16, 2019

TUNISIA – ISIS Releases Video Calling for More Terrorist Attacks on Tunisia
The “media desk of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Tunisia” released a video on social media on July 16 showing masked and armed men calling for more terrorist attacks to target Tunisia. The video’s release comes at a time of heightened security concerns in the country. Two suicide bombing took place in Tunis on June 27. The attacks, claimed by ISIS and targeting Tunisian security forces, killed one policeman and injured several civilians. On July 3, the presumed mastermind of the attacks, Aymen Smiri, blew himself up in Tunis following a police chase.
July 17, 2019

TUNISIA – Uncertainty Around the Tunisian Election Date
Mohamed Ennaceur, the Speaker of the Tunisian Parliament, was sworn in as interim president of Tunisia following the death of 92 year old President Essebi on July 25. Under the constitution, the interim president must call an election within 45 to 90 days of appointment. Before Essebi’s death, the Tunisian presidential election was due to be held on November 17. It remains to be seen when and how the presidential election will unfold.
July 25, 2019

ALGERIA – Bensalah’s Interim Term Ends, No Presidential Election in Sight
On July 19, thousands protested in cities across Algeria, seeking the resignation of interim president Abdelkader Bensalah. Bensalah’s 90 day interim term officially expired on July 9. The presidential election was scheduled for July 4 but was cancelled because no candidates were presented. No date has been set for a future election. The protests continue despite Algerian lawmakers electing an opposition figure, Slimane Chenine, as new Chairman of Parliament on July 10.
July 19, 2019

Economy

MOROCCO – Morocco’s Public Debt Drops to USD 34.12 bn in March 2019
According to figures released by the Moroccan Ministry of Economy and Finance, Morocco’s external public debt in March 2019 was USD 34.12 bn, or 29.5% of Gross Domestic Product. The figures show a drop of 1.4% compared to March 2018. Nearly half of Morocco’s debt, 48.6%, comes from international institutions including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Bilateral lending agreements make up 28% (of which 18.5% from European countries). 23.4% of the debt comes from banks.
July 1, 2019

MOROCCO – Morocco’s Budget Deficit Rises to USD 2.28 bn in June 2019
The Moroccan Treasury has announced a budget deficit of USD 2.28 bn in June 2019, up from USD 2.14 bn at the same time last year. The figures released by the Treasury also show gross tax revenue rose 4.5% to USD 11.6 bn in June, up from approximately USD 11.1 bn at the same time last year, and state spending came to approximately USD 19.1 bn in June 2019, up by 15.4%. The budget deficit would have been much greater had it not been for the government’s sale of 8% of its shares in the Moroccan telecommunication provider Maroc Telecom in June.
July 16, 2019

TUNISIA – National Statistics Body Announces a Drop in Foreign Trade Volumes in First Half of 2019
The National Institute of Statistics has released its June 2019 international trade figures. During the first half of 2019, Tunisia’s foreign trade volumes decreased, with a 5.1% decrease in export volumes and a 5.2% decrease in import volumes compared to the same period last year. By sector, export volumes dropped by 4.2% for the textile and leatherwear sector, 5.2% for the energy sector, and 20.2% for the agriculture sector. Phosphate exports saw a slight 0.4% increase. Import volumes dropped by 8.9% in the mechanical and electrical sector. Energy imports increased however by 6.2%.
July 16, 2019

TUNISIA – IMF Recommends that Tunisia Reduce its Budget Deficit and its Inflation Rates
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) was in Tunis from July 11 to 17 to discuss a reform program for Tunisia’s economy with Tunisian Ministers. The IMF found there had been an increase in the risks that could affect Tunisia’s 2019 economic situation. IMF identified the following risk factors: an increase in the value of the Tunisian dinar, an increase in the price of petrol, and a growth slow-down for Tunisia’s main economic partners. “Reaching the budget deficit objective of 3.9% of GDP is crucial in order to limit the accumulation of public debt, which has already reached 77% of GDP at the end of 2018,” warned the IMF.
July 17, 2019

 

Key Economic Indicators

 

Newsletter North Africa July 2019

Economy

Overview of Monthly Data

Growth Rates

Inflation

 

 

Inflation continues to decelerate
In January 2018, consumer prices in Turkey increased by 1.02% in comparison to the previous month, and by 10.35% over the same month of the previous year (YOY). The highest monthly increase was registered in miscellaneous goods and services (2.96%), followed by furnishing and household equipment (2.44%). The highest monthly decrease took place in clothing and footwear (-6.02%). The highest annual increase was in transportation (16.02%). The domestic producer price index (D-PPI) increased by 12.14% YOY, and 0.99% monthly.
Feb. 5, 2018

10.3% unemployed in November
In November 2017, 3.3 million people in Turkey aged 15 and older were officially out of work, 440,000 less than in the same month of 2016. The unemployment rate was 10.3% with a 1.8-point decrease YOY. The youth unemployment rate in the 15-24 age bracket decreased to 19.3%. The labour force participation rate rose to 52.8% in total, and to 33.8% for females. Of those with employment in this period, 54.6% were employed in the services sector, 19.2% in industry, 18.6% in agriculture, and 7.6% in construction.
Feb. 15, 2018

Foreign trade deficit soars 36.8% in 2017
In December 2017, Turkey’s exports increased by 8.6%, while imports increased by 25.4%, YOY. With exports increasing to USD 13.9 bn and imports increasing to USD 23.1 bn, the trade deficit soared 63.5%, up to USD 9.2 bn. Accordingly, the annual volume of exports increased by 10.2% to USD 157.1 bn, imports increased by 17.7% to USD 233.8 bn, and the foreign trade deficit increased by 36.8% to USD 76.7 bn. The rise in exports was thanks to the increase in exports of motor vehicles, steel and machinery, whereas rise in imports was due to the rise in imports of gold, metals, mineral fuels and oils. In December, the main partner for exports continued to be Germany (USD 1.3 bn), trailed by the UK (USD 827 mn), Italy (USD 771 mn), and Iraq (USD 771 mn). Germany was also the country most of Turkey’s imports came from (USD 2.2 bn), slightly ahead of China (USD 2.1 bn), and followed by Russia (USD 1.9 bn) and the USA (USD 1.2 bn).
Jan. 31, 2018

Central Bank keeps policy rate stable
The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey has left the overnight lending rate at 9.25%, the one-week repo rate (policy rate) at 8.0%, and the late liquidity window lending rate at 12.75%. The bank reported that the economic activity maintains its strength, domestic demand keeps improving, and external demand contributes positively to exports. The high inflation and inflation expectations create a risk on pricing behaviour; hence, the bank has decided to maintain the tight monetary policy.
Jan. 18, 2018

 

Politics

Turkey launches operation in Syria
Turkey has launched a military action dubbed “Operation Olive Branch” to clear the Afrin border region in northwest Syria of the predominantly Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara considers to be the Syrian branch of the PKK and a threat to its national security. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that after Afrin, the operation will be extended to the Manbij region further eastward. Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has assured that the aim of the operation is to clean the region from terrorists and that Turkey has no intention of an invasion. Heather Nauert, spokeswoman for the United States Department of State, stated that Turkey’s concerns about PKK are legitimate, but Turkey should focus on fighting against ISIS instead of other groups. Turkey has demanded that the USA stops its training and armament support to YPG, publicly threatening force even against U.S. troops.
Jan. 20 – 31, 2018

Former Halkbank manager found guilty by U.S. court
In his trial in the U.S., Hakan Atilla, former Deputy General Manager of Turkish state-owned bank Halkbank, has been found guilty of five counts, including breaching international and U.S. sanctions against Iran, and committing bank fraud. According to Bekir Bozdağ, the Turkish government’s spokesman, the ruling is contrary to international law, and evidence of the collaboration between the U.S. justice system and the so-called Fethullah Terror Organisation (FETÖ).
Jan. 4 – 5, 2018

State of emergency extended for the sixth time
The majority of the Turkish parliament has granted the government’s request to extend the state of emergency for another three months as from January 19, 2018. Accordingly, the total duration of this ostensibly temporary measure, which had been introduced as from July 21, 2016 following the coup attempt, which grants the government extraordinary powers not only in the fight against terrorism, will reach 21 months.
Jan. 18, 2018

Netherlands withdraws ambassador to Ankara
The Dutch government has now officially withdrawn its ambassador to Ankara after the diplomat was barred from the country following the incidents that happened last year. It has been also stated that the Netherlands will not issue permission for the appointment of a new Turkish ambassador. In March 2017, permission for a rally to be held in Rotterdam by a Turkish Minister had been denied, and Dutch police blocking off the Turkish consulate clashed violently with protesters of Turkish origin. Following the incidents, Turkey sent two diplomatic notes to the Netherlands, requesting an official apology. The diplomatic ties between two countries shall remain intact at the level of chargé d’affaires.
Feb. 5, 2018

Other topics

Deloitte has reported that the volume of M&As in Turkey has reached USD 10.3 bn in 2017, growing by 41%. There have been 298 mergers and acquisitions, and the transaction volume of foreign investors was 45% higher compared to 2016, reaching USD 5.5 bn. Europeans have been the main actors among foreign investors, and the leading transactions have been Vitol–OMV Petrol Ofisi, BBVA–Garanti Bank, and IFM Investors–Mersin Port. Jan. 9, 2018

Ahmet Arslan, Turkish Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications, has announced the route of Canal Istanbul, which is designed as an alternative to Bosporus to connect the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the European side of Istanbul. The 45 km long canal is planned to go through the route of Küçükçekmece-Sazlıdere-Durusu. The minister stated that the canal will decrease the ship traffic in Bosporus and create the possibility of urban transformation in the region. Nevertheless, the project faces strong criticism because of the potential environmental risks. Jan. 16, 2018

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is expecting to make a EUR 1.5 bn investment in Turkey in 2018. Suma Chakrabarti, President of EBRD, has stated that Turkey is the bank’s top investment destination, having invested EUR 5.4 bn in the last three years. The bank has supported not only large-scale companies, but also almost 80,000 SMEs in Turkey. Jan. 18, 2018

Qatar-based Al Sraiya Holding Group and its subcontractor in Bahrain, Venture Capital Bank, have acquired 42.7% of the Turkish patisserie and ice-cream franchise MADO for USD 150 mn. The deal includes the expansion of MADO in the GCC region. Abdullatif Janahi, CEO of VCBank, stated that this has been VCBank’s third major investment in Turkey, which is one of the fastest growing markets in Europe and provides a strategic position for global growth. MADO is Turkey’s largest patisserie and ice-cream franchise with more than 310 stores across Turkey and 48 locations worldwide. Jan. 26, 2018