Egypt petroleum ministry keen to resolve gas export disputes: Official

Gas tanks are seen in the desert north of Cairo. (Reuters)
Updated 20 February 2018

Egypt petroleum ministry keen to resolve gas export disputes: Official

CAIRO: Egypt’s petroleum ministry on Tuesday said that it was keen to resolve any gas export disputes.
Officials said Egypt was right to import gas “from Cyprus or from anywhere else” in its quest to become a regional energy hub. The statements followed Monday’s announcement of a $15 billion deal to export Israeli gas to Egypt.
Ministry spokesman Hamdi Abdel Aziz was quoted by local news website Masrawy saying “receiving gas from Israel is part of solutions to reach an agreement on disputes between companies before the international arbitration court.”
A Reuters report said on Monday that an Egyptian company would buy $15 billion of Israeli natural gas in two 10-year agreements.
The partners in Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan offshore gas fields said they would supply the private Egyptian firm Dolphinus Holdings with around 64 billion cubic meters of gas over a decade — with half coming from each field, and the proceeds shared equally.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the agreements would “strengthen our economy (and) strengthen regional ties.”
Israel’s Delek Group and Texas-based Noble Energy have led both gas projects.
“Egypt is becoming a real gas hub,” Yossi Abu, CEO of Delek unit Delek Drilling, told Reuters. “This deal is the first deal of potentially more to come.”
Egyptian Petroleum Minister Tarek El-Molla told the private Egyptian television channel “ON E that” outstanding disputes would have to be resolved for the deal to go through.
Molla’s comments refer to Egypt’s challenge to a 2015 ruling by the International Chamber of Commerce ordering the country to pay $2 billion in compensation after a deal to export gas to Israel via pipeline collapsed in 2012 due to months of attacks by insurgents in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.
“We don’t mind importing gas from Israel, but we have terms in order (to allow) something like this to happen ... most importantly, the settlement of ongoing arbitration,” Molla said.
An Egyptian government official who declined to be identified said the deal did not mean Egypt itself would import any gas from abroad.
“International private companies will import gas from abroad in the framework of their own needs, and will liquefy and export them again,” the official said, without elaborating.


Economists fear a US recession in 2021

Updated 12 min 10 sec ago

Economists fear a US recession in 2021

  • Trump’s higher budget deficits ‘might dampen the economy’

WASHINGTON: A number of US business economists appear sufficiently concerned about the risks of some of President Donald Trump’s economic policies that they expect a recession in the US by the end of 2021.

Thirty-four percent of economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics, in a report being released Monday, said they believe a slowing economy will tip into recession in 2021. 

That’s up from 25 percent in a survey taken in February. Only 2 percent of those polled expect a recession to begin this year, while 38 percent predict that it will occur in 2020.

Trump, however, has dismissed concerns about a recession, offering an optimistic outlook for the economy after last week’s steep drop in the financial markets and saying on Sunday, “I don’t think we’re having a recession.” A strong economy is key to the Republican president’s 2020 reelection prospects.

The economists have previously expressed concern that Trump’s tariffs and higher budget deficits could eventually dampen the economy.

The Trump administration has imposed tariffs on goods from many key US trading partners, from China and Europe to Mexico and Canada. 

Officials maintain that the tariffs, which are taxes on imports, will help the administration gain more favorable terms of trade. But US trading partners have simply retaliated with tariffs of their own.

Trade between the US and China, the two biggest global economies, has plunged. Trump decided last Wednesday to postpone until Dec. 15 tariffs on about 60 percent of an additional $300 billion of Chinese imports, granting a reprieve from a planned move that would have extended duties to nearly everything the US buys from China.

The financial markets last week signaled the possibility of a US recession, adding to concerns over the ongoing trade tensions and word from Britain and Germany that their economies are shrinking.

The economists surveyed by the NABE were skeptical about prospects for success of the latest round of US-China trade negotiations. Only 5 percent predicted that a comprehensive trade deal would result, 64 percent suggested a superficial agreement was possible and nearly 25 percent expected nothing to be agreed upon by the two countries.

The 226 respondents, who work mainly for corporations and trade associations, were surveyed between July 14 and Aug. 1. That was before the White House announced 10 percent tariffs on the additional $300 billion of Chinese imports, the Chinese currency dipped below the seven-yuan-to-$1 level for the first time in 11 years and the Trump administration formally labeled China a currency manipulator.

As a whole, the business economists’ recent responses have represented a rebuke of the Trump administration’s overall approach to the economy.

Still, for now, most economic signs appear solid. Employers are adding jobs at a steady pace, the unemployment rate remains near a 50-year low and consumers are optimistic. US retail sales figures out last Thursday showed that they jumped in July by the most in four months.