Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE to sign $10 billion Bahrain aid deal — report

Bahrain’s international bond prices and currency have come under pressure this year as the kingdom runs fiscal and current account deficits partly caused by low oil prices. (AFP)
Updated 04 October 2018
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Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE to sign $10 billion Bahrain aid deal — report

  • Bahrain’s international bond prices and currency have come under pressure this year as the kingdom runs fiscal and current account deficits
  • A $10 billion package would be worth about a quarter of Bahrain’s annual gross domestic product

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates will soon sign an agreement to provide up to $10 billion of financial support to Bahrain, Kuwait’s Al Rai newspaper said on Thursday, quoting an unnamed Gulf diplomatic source.
The agreement will be signed in Bahrain after the ministers complete their current visit to Jordan, where they are concluding a financial aid deal for that country, the newspaper reported.
“A Gulf decision at the highest levels was taken to start the execution steps for a program to support the financial stability of Bahrain,” the diplomatic source was quoted as saying.
Bahrain’s international bond prices and currency have come under pressure this year as the kingdom runs fiscal and current account deficits partly caused by low oil prices.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, which are diplomatic allies of Bahrain, announced in June that they were in talks on a major aid package for the kingdom that would be linked to its progress in reforming its finances.
Sources in Bahrain told Reuters last month that the government planned to push reforms through parliament before Nov. 24 elections to the assembly. These include the imposition of value-added tax and changes to the pension system,
Al Rai did not give details of the aid package. Sources previously told Reuters that it would extend over several years.
A $10 billion package would be worth about a quarter of Bahrain’s annual gross domestic product and 28 percent of public debt, and cover over two years of state budget deficits according to International Monetary Fund projections.
It would put no significant strain on the combined finances of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, which have hundreds of billions of dollars in their sovereign wealth funds and with Brent oil trading above $80 a barrel, have seen their own deficits narrow sharply or disappear in recent months.


Israel cuts Gaza fishing limit after fire balloons

Updated 23 min 26 sec ago
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Israel cuts Gaza fishing limit after fire balloons

  • Israel reduced the fishing limit to 10 nautical miles
  • The countries agreed to 20 nautical miles in the Oslo accords of 1990s

JERUSALEM: Israel reduced the offshore fishing limits it imposes for vessels operating out of Gaza from Thursday after Palestinians floated balloons fitted with incendiaries over the border, officials said.
The cut came just two days after Israel restored the limits to those set in April ahead of an Israeli general election.
“A decision was taken this Wednesday evening to reduce the fishing zone off the Gaza Strip to 10 nautical miles until further notice,” said COGAT, the defense ministry unit that oversees such regulations.
“The decision was taken after the launch of incendiary balloons from Gaza toward Israel,” it added.
Palestinians in Gaza have frequently floated balloons fitted with firebombs over the border to damage Israeli property and have in the past succeeded in setting fire to large areas of farmland.
Israel banned fishing completely when two days of deadly violence erupted earlier this month, but lifted the ban with a restriction of up to 12 nautical miles following a truce.
The 15-nautical-mile limit that had been restored on Tuesday was the largest allowed in years by Israel, which has fought three wars with Palestinian militants in the enclave and has blockaded it for more than a decade.
But human rights activists note that it still falls short of the 20 nautical miles agreed under the Oslo accords of the 1990s.
Israeli authorities have not said whether the 15-mile limit was one of the understandings reached as part of the May 6 cease-fire in Gaza but Israel media reported on Monday that it was.
The additional nautical miles are important to Gaza fishermen as they bring more valuable, deeper water species within reach.
Four Israeli civilians and 25 Palestinians, including at least nine militants, were killed in this month’s exchanges across the border.