Morocco receives first chunk of $ 2.5 bn package

Updated 03 February 2013
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Morocco receives first chunk of $ 2.5 bn package

RABAT: Morocco has received the first slice of a $ 2.5 billion aid package promised by Gulf Arab states, a Moroccan official said on Friday, part of pledge designed to cement ties between Arab monarchies in the wake of regional uprisings.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait agreed in Dec. 2011 to distribute $ 2.5 billion to both Morocco and Jordan.
“The valves are opened and we hope they will continue to be so,” said the Moroccan official, who declined to be named and would not say how much money had been transferred.
Sources said the North African country had finalized the agreement with the Gulf Arab states on the margins of the Arab Social and Economic Development Summit in Riyadh last month.
Analysts say the move to forge closer links between regional monarchies is part of a concerted effort to contain the pro-democracy unrest that has ousted autocratic ruling elites in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Libya.
Rabat is anxious to avoid a drop in living standards and prevent a return to street protests for political and economic reforms that King Mohammed managed to stifle in 2011 with constitutional reforms, social spending and harsh policing.
The cash-strapped country relies on foreign aid, given its $ 90-billion economy is heavily exposed to the debt-scarred euro zone through trade, tourism revenues and migrant remittances.
Its trade gap was 7.9 percent higher in December than a year ago at a record 197.2 billion dirhams ($ 23.6 billion) largely due to a surge of imports of energy and wheat imports, which the state heavily subsidizes.
The government now aims to cut the budget deficit to 4.8 percent of GDP in 2013 from 6 percent in 2012, and projects GDP growth of 4.5 percent this year, after 2.8 percent in 2012.
Morocco raised $ 1.5 billion via a bond sale in December, which lifted its foreign currency reserves to 140 billion dirhams - but that only covers about four months of import needs, which economists say is an uncomfortably low level.
In August, the International Monetary Fund approved a $ 6.2 billion precautionary line of credit for the North African country, to be treated as “insurance” in case economic conditions deteriorated further.


Samsung Electronics reports 52% jump in Q1 net profit

Updated 43 min 10 sec ago
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Samsung Electronics reports 52% jump in Q1 net profit

  • Profits bump thanks to strong demand for memory chips, smartphones
  • Net profit for the January to March period hit 11.69 trillion won ($10.8 billion)

SEOUL:  Samsung Electronics reported a 52 percent jump in its first quarter net profit Thursday, thanks to strong demand for memory chips and its latest flagship smartphone.
Net profit for the January to March period hit 11.69 trillion won ($10.8 billion), up from 7.68 trillion won a year earlier, the company said in a regulatory filing.
Operating profit was a record 15.64 trillion won, in line with the estimate of 15.6 trillion won suggested in a preliminary guidance report released earlier this month.
“The semiconductor business posted solid earnings — 11.55 trillion won in operating profit on a 20.78 trillion won revenue — on strong demand for memory chips,” the company said in a statement.
Total sales grew 19.8 percent to 60.56 trillion won and Samsung expects the memory business to maintain its strong performance in the second quarter.
But generating overall earnings growth across the company will be a challenge due to weakness in the display panel segment and a decline in profitability in the mobile business in the face of rising competition, it said.