MENA to face high inflation at 14% in 2022 on account of Russia-Ukraine war: IMF

MENA to face high inflation at 14% in 2022 on account of Russia-Ukraine war: IMF
The IMF expects the regional inflation rate to remain high at 13.9 percent in 2022, a substantial increase from last year. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 24 May 2022

MENA to face high inflation at 14% in 2022 on account of Russia-Ukraine war: IMF

MENA to face high inflation at 14% in 2022 on account of Russia-Ukraine war: IMF

RIYADH: Food prices are projected to increase by another 14 percent in 2022, after hitting historic highs in 2021, said the International Monetary Fund. 

In its latest World Economic Outlook, the international agency noted that the commodity markets in the Middle East and North Africa are being impacted by the Russia-Ukraine war inflation, with prices sharply rising.

In a blog published on the IMF website, its economists warned that “higher commodity prices, propelled upwards by war in Ukraine, will have a significant economic impact on the region.”

The IMF expects the regional inflation rate to remain high at 13.9 percent in 2022, a substantial increase from last year.

Following the Russian invasion, oil prices skyrocketed to $130 per barrel, and are expected to average $107 by 2022, up $38 from 2021, it added.

In its Regional Economic Outlook, the IMF had revised its forecast for growth in the MENA as a whole by 0.9 percentage points to 5 percent, but it said: “This reflects improved prospects for oil exporters helped by rising oil and gas prices.”

For oil-importing countries, the agency marked down its projections, “as higher commodity prices add to the challenges stemming from elevated inflation and debt, tightening global financial conditions, uneven vaccination progress, and underlying fragilities and conflict in some countries.”

 


Biden says will see Saudi’s crown prince, won’t push directly on oil

Biden says will see Saudi’s crown prince, won’t push directly on oil
Updated 18 sec ago

Biden says will see Saudi’s crown prince, won’t push directly on oil

Biden says will see Saudi’s crown prince, won’t push directly on oil

MADRID: US President Joe Biden on Thursday said he would see Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince during a visit to the country next month but that the purpose of his trip was not to press them to increase oil output.

Asked at a press conference in Spain if he would ask the Saudi leaders to increase oil production, Biden said “No.”

He said he had indicated that all the Gulf states should be increasing oil production generically, not Saudi Arabia particularly.

He said he hoped the countries would conclude that it was in their own interest to do so.

His comments came as The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, agreed on Thursday to stick to earlier approved oil output increases in July and August and refrained from any policy discussions for September.

The decision to stick to the planned increases comes despite calls for bigger increases to tame crude prices.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated concerns about oil supplies, sending prices to record highs this year.

In their monthly video conference, which lasted about an hour, the 23 members of OPEC+ agreed to add another 648,000 barrels per day in August, the same as for July.


Macro Snapshot — Eurozone unemployment falls to record low; UK balance of payments deficit balloons

Macro Snapshot — Eurozone unemployment falls to record low; UK balance of payments deficit balloons
Updated 14 min 20 sec ago

Macro Snapshot — Eurozone unemployment falls to record low; UK balance of payments deficit balloons

Macro Snapshot — Eurozone unemployment falls to record low; UK balance of payments deficit balloons

RIYADH: Eurozone unemployment fell to a record low in May as the economy continued to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The EU’s statistics office Eurostat said on Thursday that unemployment in the 19 countries sharing the euro fell to 6.6 percent of the workforce in May from a revised 6.7 percent in April.

The 6.6 percent rate is the lowest rate since records dating back to 1998, just before the official launch of the euro in January 1999.

UK balance of payments 

Britain racked up a record shortfall in its current account in early 2022, in part due to the soaring cost of its fuel imports, according to data that officials cautioned could be revised.

The balance of payments deficit — a measure of how much the country relies on money from abroad — ballooned to £51.7 billion ($62.8 billion) or 8.3 percent of gross domestic product between January and March.

Data from the Office for National Statistics also showed the increasing strain on households as their real disposable income shrank for the longest period on record.

Portugal’s inflation rise 

Portuguese consumer prices jumped 8.7 percent year-on-year in June, at their fastest pace since December 1992, up from 8 percent in May, flash data from the National Statistics Institute showed.

Core inflation, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, rose 6 percent year-on-year, the fastest rate since May 1994, up from 5.6 percent the previous month.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent pressure on energy and food markets has stoked inflation, which was already accelerating as the global economy reopened after the coronavirus pandemic

Hong Kong retail sales fall 

Hong Kong’s May retail sales fell 1.7 percent from a year earlier after a sharp increase the previous month, government data showed.

Sales eased to HK$29.1 billion ($3.71 billion), having jumped 11.7 percent in April. The government said that over April and May together there was a year-on-year increase of 4.7 percent.

(With input from Reuters) 


Saudi Aramco awards $16m steel pipes deal to homegrown pipe producer

Saudi Aramco awards $16m steel pipes deal to homegrown pipe producer
Updated 16 min 15 sec ago

Saudi Aramco awards $16m steel pipes deal to homegrown pipe producer

Saudi Aramco awards $16m steel pipes deal to homegrown pipe producer

RIYADH: Saudi Steel Pipe Co. has been awarded a deal worth SR58 million ($16 million) for the supply of oil and gas steel pipes to oil giant Aramco.

The contract will be valid for a year, a statement by the pipe manufacturer revealed.

The company expects the transaction to impact its financial statements starting from the last quarter of the year.


Abu Dhabi to allocate $2.7bn to position itself as regional industrial hub  

Abu Dhabi to allocate $2.7bn to position itself as regional industrial hub  
Updated 29 min 32 sec ago

Abu Dhabi to allocate $2.7bn to position itself as regional industrial hub  

Abu Dhabi to allocate $2.7bn to position itself as regional industrial hub  

RIYADH: Abu Dhabi government is planning to invest 10 billion dirhams ($2.7 billion) across six industrial programs as it aims to double the size of the manufacturing sector to 172 billion dirhams by 2031.

It intends to achieve the goal by increasing manufacturers’ access to financing, and improving the ease of doing business while attracting foreign direct investment, the National reported. 

This is being done as part of the Abu Dhabi Industrial Strategy that looks to strengthen the emirate’s position as the region’s competitive industrial hub by 2031. 

Last year, the UAE launched an industrial strategy, named Operation 300 billion, as it seeks to increase the industrial sector’s contribution to the country's gross domestic product to 300 billion dirhams in 2031, up from 133 billion dirhams in 2021. 


OPEC+ sticks to policy, avoids September oil output debate

OPEC+ sticks to policy, avoids September oil output debate
Updated 35 min 4 sec ago

OPEC+ sticks to policy, avoids September oil output debate

OPEC+ sticks to policy, avoids September oil output debate

LONDON, June 30 : The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, agreed on Thursday to stick to earlier approved oil output increases in July and August and refrained from any policy discussions for September, two sources said, according to Reuters.

The decision to stick to the planned increases comes despite calls for bigger increases to tame crude prices.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated concerns about oil supplies, sending prices to record highs this year.

But a respite is not in sight.

In their monthly video conference, which lasted about an hour, the 23 members of OPEC+ agreed to add another 648,000 barrels per day in August, the same as for July.

Analysts had widely expected the move, calling the gathering of the Vienna-based Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their partners a "rubber stamp" meeting.

Jeffrey Halley, analyst at OANDA trading platform, said before the meeting that he did not expect surprises as "OPEC+ can't even meet its present targets, and hasn't for a long time."

The 13 members of OPEC, chaired by Saudi Arabia, and their 10 partners, led by Russia, drastically slashed output in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdowns sent demand plummeting.

Since last year, they have been gradually increasing output again. In recent months, the United States and other top oil consumers urged OPEC+ to open the tabs more widely.

The group finally decided at its last meeting in early June to add 648,000 barrels per day to the market in July, up from 432,000 in previous months.

But the larger-than-expected boost failed to cool prices.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the international benchmark, Brent North Sea Crude, has added around 17 percent, while the US benchmark WTI has jumped more than 18 percent.

Analysts have warned that only a recession may be able to bring down prices.

"The prices will likely push higher unless the recession fears take the upper hand," said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, an analyst at Swissquote Bank.

Several OPEC+ members have been failing to meet the output quotas, while Iran and Venezuela -- and now also Russia -- are blocked by sanctions.

The UAE said this week it was close to its oil output ceiling, ahead of a regional visit by US President Joe Biden, who is expected to lobby for increased production.

Biden will visit neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, as part of his tour next month, but analysts doubt it will convince OPEC+ to boost output.

On Monday, at the meeting of the G7 club of industrialised nations in Germany, French President Emmanuel Macron was caught on camera telling Biden details of a conversation with UAE leader Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

According to Macron, Sheikh Mohamed said the UAE was at its "maximum" capacity and Saudi Arabia also faced a limit for raising production.

— With contributions from Reuters and AFP