Business and Economic News from the Red Sea region and littoral states Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Eritrea, Djibouti from regional, international, and industry media – April 9, 2020

Suez Shipping – “The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) is introducing new and enhanced toll rebates for containerships and LNG carriers.For containerships on the backhaul from Northwest Europe, including the Med ports of Tangier and Algeciras transiting the Suez Canal and heading direct for southeast Asia calling Port Klang, Malaysia eastwards will be granted a 6% reduction in tolls,” Sea Trade Maritime News reports.

Yemen Cease-Fire – “A unilateral two-week ceasefire called by the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen has come into effect. The coalition said it wanted to support UN efforts for a political solution and help stop coronavirus spread, though no cases have been reported in Yemen. UN Secretary General António Guterres welcomed the move,” BBC News reports.

Saudi Arabia Oil/OPEC+ – “Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed in principle Thursday on a deal to carry out the biggest organized oil-production cuts in decades, after a month-long feud and drop in due to the coronavirus crisis devastated oil prices. Prices shot higher ahead of the announcement before abruptly losing momentum and shedding most of their gains on a day of volatile trading. U.S. crude was up 3.4% at $25.95 a barrel and Brent crude oil was last up 3.2% at $33.91 a barrel, having earlier been up 10%,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

Egypt/Eritrea – “There have been unconfirmed reports that Egypt may be moving close to an agreement with Eritrea, with which ties have been warming in recent years, to host a new Egyptian naval base on Nora island. Cairo traditionally dismissed the idea of overseas regional bases owing to political sensitivities but has been investing in a new strategy to bolster its maritime power,” Arab Weekly reports.

Egypt/Reserves – “The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) said that it has used US$5.4 billion from its foreign currency reserves during March due to the coronavirus crisis. The funds went to partially cover foreign portfolio investment outflows through the CBE’s foreign exchange repatriation mechanism, to accommodate for the domestic market’s foreign currency needs to import strategic goods, and for the repayment of external debt service obligations,” Egypt Independent reports.

Sudan Dam Diplomacy – “The Sudanese Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Yasser Abbas said on Tuesday that although he expects negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to resume soon in Washington, DC, he has ruled out the possibility that the government of Sudan will play the role of intermediary with regard to the dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over the filling and operations of the dam. Abbas explained that since Sudan is a party to the negotiations, and participating in order to preserve its interests, it cannot possibly be neutral or act as a mediator between the other two parties,” Egypt Independent reports.

Sudan – “Sudanese authorities on Wednesday announced a rise in the price of bread in the capital Khartoum, nearly a year after the fall of President Omar Al-Bashir. A tripling of the price of bread had been the trigger for street protests against Bashir in December 2018 — demonstrations that went on for months until the army deposed the longtime ruler on April 11 last year,” Arab News reports.

Shipping – “Saudi Ports Authority (Mawani) announced the launch of a new shipping line connecting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with East African countries through the shipping line “CMA CGM”, the world’s leading company in shipping services. It is also the first container shipping-line to reach King Fahd Industrial Port in Yanbu, on the Red Sea coast, which contributes to enhancing the movement of exports and imports to and from Yanbu,” Asharq Al-Awsat reports.

Saudi/Aviation – “British architect firm Foster + Partners has been awarded a design contract for Red Sea International Airport in Saudi Arabia. The airport is set to serve one million passengers by 2030, and is part of the country’s ‘Red Sea Project’ which aims to create a new luxury tourism destination in the coming years. Foster + Partners talk about what they aim to achieve in this project, the unique considerations involved with developing a project in this region,” Airport Technology reports.

Djibouti/Coronavirus – “Djibouti on Thursday confirmed the first coronavirus fatality in the country. The Health Ministry said in a statement on Twitter that a patient who was suffering from heart issues contracted the virus at a hospital, and died late Wednesday after one week in intensive care. As of Wednesday evening, Djibouti recorded 135 coronavirus cases, including 25 recoveries, according to the official Djibouti news agency,” Anadolu Agency reports.

Environment – “As seas warm and acidify with climate change, corals worldwide are bleaching – but in the north of the Red Sea there is a ray, or rather reef, of hope,” Future Planet BBC reports.

Eco-tourism – “Most colours disappear the deeper you go, but even 15 metres below the surface, Egypt’s Red Sea was an artist’s palette of electrifying Pantones. Soft corals and writhing anemones popped with vibrant hues, and clouds of Calippo-orange anthias fish were testimony to a healthy reef. It’s a rare picture of positivity on our ailing blue planet, and one painted by the very absence of human hand,” Travel Weekly reports.

Djibouti/Film – “If you’re having a tough time recalling the last movie you watched from Djibouti, it’s likely because you have never watched one before. With an almost non-existent film industry in the country, Lula Ali Ismaïl, tells a beautiful coming of age story of three young female Djiboutian teenagers at the cusp of womanhood. Dhalinyaro offers a never-before-seen view of Djibouti City as a stunning, dynamic city that blends modernity and tradition—a city in which the youth, like all youth everywhere, struggle to decide what their futures will look like. It’s a beautiful story of friendship, family, dreams and love from a female filmmaker who wants to tell a “universal story of youth,” but set in the country she loves—Djibouti,” Okay Africa reports.

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