Qatar signs aid deal worth $1.25 billion for Morocco

Updated 28 December 2013
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Qatar signs aid deal worth $1.25 billion for Morocco

RABAT: Qatar and Morocco have signed an aid deal worth $1.25 billion, part of a five-year package of financial assistance extended by Gulf states to the North African kingdom to help it weather ‘Arab Spring’ protests.
Four Gulf states — Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE — agreed in 2012 to provide aid worth a total $5 billion to Morocco in the period 2012-2017 to build up its infrastructure, strengthen its economy and foster tourism.
Each of the four countries has committed $1.25 billion to Morocco for the whole five year period.
The aid is very welcome to King Mohamed — who signed the accord with the visiting emir of Qatar — as he seeks to quell social discontent.
Morocco is under heavy pressure from international lenders to reduce its budget deficit after spending heavily on food and energy subsidies and higher public sector salaries in 2011 and 2012 to help defuse social tensions.
Morocco has budgeted to receive a total $1 billion in aid from the Gulf states for 2014.
It hopes to cut its budget deficit to 4.9 percent of gross domestic product next year from an estimated 5.5 percent in 2013.
Qatar was the last of the four Gulf states to sign the aid accord with Morocco. It was not immediately clear whether Qatar would disburse the aid installments for both 2012 and 2013, each worth $250 million, together.
The Gulf states have agreed a similar package of aid, also worth a total $5 billion over a five-year period, for Jordan.


Hyundai teams up with VW’s Audi to boost hydrogen cars

Updated 18 min 39 sec ago
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Hyundai teams up with VW’s Audi to boost hydrogen cars

LONDON: Hyundai agreed a deal with Audi on Wednesday to collaborate on hydrogen car technology, hoping to boost an energy segment that has lagged behind battery electric vehicles.
The South Korean firm wants to increase the uptake of hydrogen cars, which are propelled by electricity generated by fuel cells but have been held back by a lack of infrastructure and the push for battery electric vehicles by the likes of Tesla.
The pair will be able to access each other’s intellectual property and share components, including any new parts developed by Audi, which is responsible for hydrogen fuel cell technology in the Volkswagen Group, the world’s biggest car seller.
Hyundai hopes that the move will create greater demand for vehicles such as its ix35 model and bring down costs to make the technology profitable.
“We want to provide to our component suppliers more chance and we want to have competition between component suppliers,” Sae Hoon Kim, the head of Hyundai’s R&D fuel cell group, told Reuters in an interview in London.
“We also want to make them to have competition with other suppliers, and that competition will bring down the cost.”
Carmakers such as Toyota have touted the benefits of hydrogen vehicles, which take less time to refuel than the recharge times of battery electric cars, but are expensive and suffer from a lack of refueling stations.
Many carmakers are focusing on battery electric vehicles, which can take between half an hour and half a day to recharge, but are increasingly able to use a growing network of charging points.
Auto firms are teaming up to share the cost of developing greener technologies to replace combustion engines as regulators around the world crack down on emissions. GM and Honda have a partnership to jointly develop electric vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells that are expected to go on sale in 2020, while BMW is working with Toyota.
Kim said that a toughening of European Union carbon emission limits in 2025 would create a need for more hydrogen cars.
Hyundai sold 200 such models last year and expects to sell thousands this year, but Kim said profitability was still far off.
“100,000 or 300,000 vehicles per year per company, when that comes, I think we can make money,” he said.