Ambassador to Morocco

Statement attributable to the Hon Julie Bishop MP:

Today I announce the appointment of Ms Berenice Owen-Jones as Australia’s first resident Ambassador to Morocco.

Australia and Morocco enjoy close ties and celebrated the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2016. We share strong people-to-people links, with many thousands of Australians visiting Morocco each year.

The establishment of an Australian Embassy in Rabat and appointment of an Ambassador to Morocco is an important addition to Australia’s diplomatic presence in Africa and part of the single largest expansion of our diplomatic network in 40 years.

Our Ambassador to Morocco will lead efforts to enhance bilateral ties and open new areas of cooperation, including expanding trade and investment links in food and agriculture, infrastructure planning and sustainable development, mining, oil and gas, and health.

Australia values Morocco’s significant contribution to international efforts to fight global terrorism and violent extremism, and we work together as members of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. The new Embassy will enhance our ability to collaborate further on counter-terrorism and security issues.

Ms Owen-Jones is a career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and was most recently Director of Studies, Diplomatic Academy. In Canberra Ms Owen-Jones has held a range of positions including, Director, Security Policy and Clearances Section. She served overseas with DFAT at the Australian Embassy in Paris.

Ms Owen-Jones holds a Bachelor of Economics, Australian National University and Diploma of International Law, Australian National University. She is expected to take up her appointment in June 2017.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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IMF Staff Concludes Review Mission to Mali

  • The IMF team reached a preliminary agreement with the authorities on a set of policies that aims at completing the seventh Review under the ECF and the extension of the program by one year.
  • Economic activity should remain strong in 2017, but risks are on the downside as security challenges and tighter financial conditions call for continued vigilance.
  • IMF staff and the authorities agreed on the importance of boosting domestic revenue mobilization and staying on a fiscal path that maintains fiscal discipline.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff team led by Boriana Yontcheva visited Bamako from May 2 to 12, 2017, to conduct discussions on the seventh review of Mali’s Fund-supported economic program under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) approved in December 2013.

At the end of the visit, Mrs. Yontcheva issued the following statement:

“The IMF team reached a preliminary agreement with the authorities on a set of policies that aims at completing the seventh Review under the ECF and the extension of the program by one year. Consideration by the IMF’s Executive Board is tentatively scheduled for July 2017.

“The team is encouraged by the steady performance of the Malian economy. The economy is estimated to have grown by 5.8 percent in 2016 and inflation remains subdued, owing largely to low international oil prices. The budget deficit of 4% of GDP remained in line with the objectives of the program, with some additional revenues offsetting added elections and security related expenditures. The deficit on the overall balance of payments widened by 2.2 percentage points to 3.9 percent of GDP in 2016.

“The team and the authorities reviewed the fiscal outcome for 2016 and early 2017. All performance criteria for end- December 2016 were met. At the same time, there were some delays in the implementation of the structural benchmarks for end-December 2016. The team is encouraged by the progress that has since been made toward meeting these benchmarks.

“Economic activity should remain strong in 2017, but risks are on the downside as security challenges and tighter financial conditions call for continued vigilance. In the first quarter, social pressure was met by additional budgetary spending. IMF staff and the authorities have agreed on the necessity of keeping spending in line with budgetary resources while protecting social outlays and medium-term public investment. IMF staff and the authorities agreed on the importance of boosting domestic revenue mobilization and maintaining fiscal discipline. In this regard, the team supports the authorities’ goal of achieving an overall fiscal deficit of 3 percent of GDP by 2019, a WAEMU convergence criterion. The team also welcomes reforms, currently being undertaken, aimed at limiting fiscal expenditures through the control of discretionary exemptions. On the revenue side, the team underscored the importance of improving domestic resource mobilization, including by permitting the pass-through of international petroleum price movements to domestic prices at the pump, while adopting appropriate safeguards for vulnerable groups.”

The team met with Prime Minister M. Abdoulaye Idrissa Maiga, Minister of Economy and Finance Dr Boubou Cissé, Minister of Decentralization and Local Taxation, M. Alassane Ag Ahmed Moussa, the National Director of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) Mr. Konzo Traoré, and other high level officials as well as representatives of the civil society, the private sector, and Mali’s technical and financial partners.

The team would like to thank the Malian authorities, various stakeholders, and technical staff, for a fruitful and cordial dialogue, as well as for their cooperation and hospitality.

Distributed by APO on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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Equatorial Guinea Hosts First Economic Forum in Saudi Arabia, Signs Agreements

Two global energy powers met today (May 11, 2017) for the first Equatorial Guinea-Saudi Arabia Economic Forum, organized by the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea. The historic event was hosted by the Jeddah Chamber and brought together senior government officials from both countries to discuss investment in crucial economic sectors of energy, agriculture, fisheries and mining. H.E. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo brought a delegation of cabinet members to present investment opportunities to Saudi officials and investors. Proceedings were opened by H.E. President Obiang and Saleh Abdullah Kamel, Chairman of the Jeddah Chamber.

In his inaugural address, H.E. President Obiang stated Equatorial Guinea’s will to expand areas of cooperation with Saudi Arabia. “Equatorial Guinea offers Saudi Arabia a gateway to the CEMAC region and we are committed to facilitating investment from Saudi Arabia,” he said. “We plan to streamline visa applications for Saudi investors who wish to come to Equatorial Guinea and we have investment regulations that offer tax benefits to international companies.” Mr. Kamel said “In order to support the greater collaboration between our countries … we are preparing to send a delegation to Equatorial Guinea to look into the areas where we can work together.” The Chairman of Jeddah Chamber placed emphasis on agricultural investment and improving food security for Saudi Arabia.

The Forum included presentations from the Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima and from Mariola Bindang Obiang, Director General of Holding Equatorial Guinea. Holding Equatorial Guinea offers to co-invest with international firms as a minority shareholder to realize projects in agriculture, aquaculture, manufacturing and other sectors.

Following the presentations, H.E. the Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons signed a strategic agreement with Arabia Energy DMCC to cooperate on the construction and financing of the Bioko Oil Terminal, a tank farm project in Equatorial Guinea that will become West Africa’s largest oil and petroleum products storage facility. “This was a historic day for Equatorial Guinea and Saudi Arabia, as we reinforced our shared vision for the oil and gas industry and cemented important new long-term ties,” said H.E. the Minister. “We look forward to working with Arabia Energy on the Bioko Oil Terminal, which will be the third largest storage facility in Africa, putting Equatorial Guinea firmly on the world energy map.”

Four additional agreements were signed, creating a framework for future collaboration between the Jeddah Chamber and the Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources represented by H.E. Minister Estanislao Don Malavo; the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food represented by H.E. Minister Victor G. Meile; the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons and with Holding Equatorial Guinea.

The Equatorial Guinea-Saudi Arabia Economic Forum follows intensive efforts by the Government of Equatorial Guinea to expand relations with countries in the Arabian Gulf. Last year, Equatorial Guinea hosted the Fourth Arab-Africa Summit and signed an agreement with Kuwait to regulate bilateral relations. The event was organized with the support of H.E. Thomas Boni Yayi, the former president of Benin, who has brokered relations between the two countries, and with thanks to pan-African law firm Centurion Law Group and Africa Oil & Power.

To learn more about the country’s investment opportunities and the Equatorial Guinea-Saudi Arabia Economic Forum, please visit www.InvestInEG.com. To meet with representatives of Equatorial Guinea’s government, please contact SaudiArabia@InvestInEG.com.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Equatorial Guinea-Saudi Arabia Economic Forum.

Media contact:
Aydanur Akkurt
Media Coordinator
SaudiArabia@InvestInEG.com
+27 76 586 7717

Source:: Equatorial Guinea Hosts First Economic Forum in Saudi Arabia, Signs Agreements

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ATI supported USD4 billion worth of trade and investments in 2016 – African countries urged to seek support from the insurer

The African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) (www.ATI-ACA.org), held its 17th Annual General Meeting today. The sustained commodity price decline and current geopolitical uncertainties took centre stage. Meeting participants urged African governments to intently focus on growing intra-African trade and diversifying their economies away from commodity reliance in order to reduce vulnerability to external shocks. With sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP growth rates expected to hit a record low of 1.5% depressed commodity rates are seen to be one of the major drivers with export producers accounting for two-thirds of the region’s growth.

Set against a backdrop of increased geopolitical uncertainties that could prove challenging for improved growth, H.E. Patrice Talon, President of the Republic of Benin and Hon. Henry Rotich, Cabinet Secretary, National Treasury of Kenya delivered opening addresses that pointed to ATI as a vital partner in supporting Africa’s journey toward diversification, self-reliance and more sustainable growth.

In 2016, ATI facilitated financing of trade and investments in Kenya valued at close to USD800 million which represents around 1.2% of Kenya’s GDP. Similarly, in ATI’s two newest member countries, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, the company supported USD400 million worth to trade and investment to these economies. “This is a very significant contribution to our economy. It demonstrates real benefit because these financial flows could not have been realized without the support of ATI,” noted Hon. Rotich.

During the opening ceremony, which attracted leaders from the public and private sectors across Africa, ATI announced its 2016 results. The pan African investment and credit risk insurer posted record results for the sixth consecutive year. ATI has moved from being loss making as recently as 2011 to posting a positive net result representing a 36 percent increase over 2015. Among other factors, ATI attributes this success to stronger partnerships with African governments, who increasingly see the value of ATI to their growth and development objectives.

In 2016, ATI’s impact in Africa and globally continued to increase. In the last six months, the company attracted new members Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and earlier in 2016, the UK’s export credit agency, UKEF. ATI also insured USD4 billion (KES405 billion) worth of trade and investments into its African member countries while backing strategic projects such as the USD159 million loan from the African Development Bank to support Ethiopian Airline’s fleet expansion. ATI also underwrote the first deal in a non-member country in Angola in Q-1 2017, reflecting the company’s new pan-African mandate.

During the closed meeting of the General Assembly shareholders discussed the company’s 2016 annual accounts and financial statements in addition to recovery of funds from defaulting member countries, the establishment of constituencies that will accommodate ATI’s regional expansion and election of Directors and Alternate Directors.

ATI is a multilateral investment insurer that was formed by COMESA member countries with the support of the World Bank in 2001. Since then, ATI has expanded to include countries in the ECOWAS region. The company provides a range of products that mitigate risks impeding the flow of investments and trade to and within Africa. As of 2016, ATI has cumulatively supported USD25 billion (KES2.5 trillion) worth of trade and investments into its member countries since inception.

ATI’s key 2016 results:

  • Volume of Business Supported Since Inception: USD25 billion (+ 16%)
  • Insured Trade & Investments (Gross Exposure): USD1.9 billion (+ 16%)
  • Gross Written Premium: USD29.5 million (+ 27%)
  • Net Earned Premium: USD12 million (+ 20%)
  • Profit: USD6.4 million (+ 36%) – On a comparable basis
  • Cost Ratio: 35% (-30%)
  • Return on Equity: 3.2% (+ 28%)
  • Shareholders’ Capital: USD202 million (+ 12%)
  • Rating (S&P): A/negative

Distributed by APO on behalf of African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI).

Press Contacts:
Sherry.Kennedy@ATI-ACA.org
Mobile +254 714 606 787

About The African Trade Insurance Agency:
ATI (www.ATI-ACA.org) was founded in 2001 by African States to cover the trade and investment risks of companies doing business in Africa. ATI provides Political Risk, Surety Bonds, Trade Credit Insurance and Political Violence and Terrorism & Sabotage cover. As of 2016, ATI has supported USD25 billion in trade and investments across Africa in sectors such as agribusiness, energy, exports, housing, infrastructure manufacturing, mining and telecommunications. ATI has an ‘A/negative’ rating for Financial Strength and Counterparty Credit by Standard & Poor’s.

Source:: ATI supported USD4 billion worth of trade and investments in 2016 – African countries urged to seek support from the insurer

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