Iran rial plunges to new low after Trump decides to leave nuclear deal

Iran’s various Rial banknotes, bearing a portrait of Iran’s late founder of Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, next to the United States 100-dollar bills bearing the portrait of US statesman, inventor and diplomat Benjamin Franklin. Iran’s rial plunged to new low after US President Donald Trump decided to leave the nuclear deal. (AFP)
Updated 09 May 2018
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Iran rial plunges to new low after Trump decides to leave nuclear deal

DUBAI: The Iranian rial plunged to a record low against the US dollar in the free market on Wednesday after US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from a deal on Tehran’s nuclear program, fueling fears of an economic crisis in Iran.
The dollar was being offered for as much as 75,000 rials, compared to around 65,000 just before Trump announced his decision on Tuesday night, according to foreign exchange website Bonbast.com (https://www.bonbast.com), which tracks the free market.
Dealers in Tehran quoted similar levels on Wednesday, according to an Iranian economist outside the country who is in touch with them. One dealer said the rial had hit 78,000, while another said he had made two sales of dollars at 80,000.
The currency has been sliding for months because of a weak economy, financial difficulties at local banks and heavy demand for dollars among Iranians who feared a pullout by Washington from the nuclear deal, and renewed US sanctions against Tehran, could shrink the country’s exports of oil and other goods.
The rial has tumbled from around 57,500 at the end of last month and 42,890 at the end of last year — a freefall that threatens to boost inflation, hurt living standards and reduce the ability of Iranians to travel abroad.
In an effort to halt the slide, Iranian authorities announced last month they were unifying official and free-market exchange rates at a single level of 42,000, and banning any trade at other rates under the threat of arrest.
But this step failed to stamp out the free market because authorities have been supplying much less hard currency through official channels than consumers are demanding. Free market trade simply went underground, dealers said.
Tehran residents told Reuters on Wednesday that activity in the free market had decreased considerably, because people feared getting arrested and the wild volatility of exchange rates increased the risk for dealers.
Nevertheless, the dealer who reported dollar sales at 80,000 said one of his sales was to a person who had sold his apartment a week ago. This person had now decided to buy dollars instead of another apartment in Iran, he said.


Oman oil minister excited to be part of Sri Lanka oil refinery project

Updated 24 March 2019
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Oman oil minister excited to be part of Sri Lanka oil refinery project

  • Sri Lanka originally said Oman’s oil ministry planned to take a 30 percent stake in the refinery
  • The India-based Accord Group is the main investor in the refinery project

HAMBANTOTA, Sri Lanka: Oman’s oil minister said on Sunday he was excited to be part of a Sri Lanka oil refinery project, an indication plans for the sultanate’s involvement may be back on track.
The comments by Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Rumhy came after an Omani official last week had denied the Middle Eastern country had agreed to invest in the project.
Rumhy joined Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at the laying of the foundation stone for the planned $3.85 billion oil refinery at Hambantota on the south coast, which would be the island’s biggest foreign direct investment.
Sri Lanka originally said Oman’s oil ministry planned to take a 30 percent stake in the refinery, which will be built near a $1.4 billion port controlled by China Merchants Port Holdings.
The India-based Accord Group is the main investor in the refinery project, through a Singapore entity it controls.
“We have Chinese investment, we have Indian investments, we have Oman interest for investment, and we have investment interest from many other countries,” Wickremesinghe said at the event. “It shows that Hambantota will become the multinational investment zone.”
A senior Sri Lankan minister, who declined to be identified because he is not authorized to talk to the media, said Oman had given a commitment to invest in the refinery and there would not be any turning back.
But on Wednesday, Salim Al-Aufi, the undersecretary of Oman’s oil and gas ministry, said “no one on this side” was aware of the investment.
Sri Lanka’s investment board said last week that another Oman entity, Oman Trading International, was willing to supply all of the refinery’s feedstock needs and take on the marketing of the oil products it would produce.
Sri Lanka, India and China have been vying for political influence in Sri Lanka in recent years, with investment a key part of the battleground.
China is the biggest buyer of Omani oil. In January it imported about 80 percent of Oman’s crude exports, Oman government data shows.
An investment zone is planned by China Harbor Engineering Corp. alongside the port.