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Morocco-Saudi Arabia joint maritime line to start operations soon

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The Chairman of the Moroccan-Saudi Arabian Business Council, Khalid Benjelloun, on Friday, announced that a maritime line which will connect Morocco and Saudi Arabia will be launched in the coming weeks.

Benjelloun said the initiative will give a new impetus to economic and trade cooperation between the two countries when it starts operations.

“The Federation of Saudi Chambers has signed an agreement with a shipping company to establish a direct line between Morocco and Saudi Arabia,” said Benjelloun in a statement at the end of the Moroccan-Saudi Business Forum held in Jeddah.

The integration, according to him, will provide opportunities for the “economy of both countries to establish fruitful industrial partnerships and investments and create joint value added and local jobs.”

Saudi Arabia which is Morocco’s largest trading partner in the Arab world, had a total value of bilateral trade with the north African country amounting to 17.2 billion dirhams in 2021 ($1.76 billion), according to data provided by the Minister of Industry and Trade, Riyad Mezzour, who led the Moroccan delegation at the forum.

“With the agreement, there is the need to relax administrative restrictions on exports and imports and the establishment of a Moroccan-Saudi investment fund to facilitate market access for small and medium enterprises, encourage partnerships between companies in both countries, and help them obtain financing,” Benjelloun said.

“During the Forum’s proceedings, investment and partnership opportunities between Morocco and Saudi Arabia and the potential of the two countries’ markets were reviewed, as well as the obstacles facing investors and the solutions proposed to promote investment and double the volume of trade between the two countries.

“The Forum was also a platform to enhance partnership between the two countries’ private sectors,” he added.

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Nigerian court voids tax evasion charges against executives of Binance

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A Nigerian court dismissed tax evasion charges against two executives of Binance on Friday, following the appointment of a local agent by the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world to represent it in all legal proceedings about the accusations.

The accusations of tax evasion were refuted by Binance, Tigran Gambaryan, an American citizen who oversees financial crimes compliance for the company, and Nadeem Anjarwalla, a regional manager for Africa and a native of Kenya.

The court’s ruling, according to Binance, demonstrated that Gambaryan was “not a decision-maker at Binance and does not need to be held for Binance to resolve issues with the Nigerian government.”

“We await the court’s ruling on this, discharging Tigran from this matter completely,” a Binance spokesperson said.

Last month, an Abuja court determined that Gambaryan, who is representing Binance, might potentially face trial in the tax evasion case. When its executives were invited to Nigeria and then detained as part of an anti-crypto campaign, Binance CEO Richard Teng accused the country of setting a dangerous precedent in May. The company is opposing the proceedings because it allegedly evades taxes and launders money.

Binance and its executives, Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British Kenyan who works as Binance’s regional manager for Africa, are accused of four counts of tax evasion. Failing to register for taxes with Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service is one of the allegations.

Anjarwalla departed the nation in March, but Gambaryan has been detained since February. The two executives were dropped from the tax evasion lawsuit by Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service, but they and Binance are still accused of money laundering.

Binance declared that the allegations ought to be withdrawn. Both Anjarwalla and Gambaryan refute these accusations as well.

Nigeria has laid the blame for its currency problems on Binance. The country’s currency sank to a record low as a result of persistent dollar shortages, and cryptocurrency websites became the preferred means of trading the naira.

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Ghana’s bondholders, govt to discuss debt restructuring next week

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Following a deal struck with official creditors earlier this week, Ghana and its bondholders will resume negotiations next week to work out a debt restructuring plan for $13 billion in foreign notes, according to four sources cited by Reuters.

Ghana, a producer of cocoa and gold, failed to pay back the majority of its $30 billion in external debt in 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine, and sharp increases in interest rates worldwide that increased the cost of borrowing. It had initiated formal negotiations in mid-March with two groups of bondholders: one comprising regional African banks and another of Western asset managers and hedge funds.

However, due to the planned deal’s failure to meet the requirements of the International Monetary Fund’s debt sustainability analysis (DSA), negotiations came to a standstill in April. Currently, both parties are under pressure to finalize an agreement before the elections in December.

Hours after the government and official creditors wrapped up their agreement on Tuesday, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke with Reuters, government advisors had gotten in touch with their counterparts at the bondholder organization.

The individuals, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed that the government advisors provided information on both the official creditor agreement and specifics from the most recent debt sustainability review from the IMF.

“People are incentivized,” one of the sources said. “Things can happen quickly.”

An official response is yet to be grated by Ghana’s Finance Ministry on the disclosure. Meanwhile, financial advisors are presently examining the given information, according to two of the sources, who also stated that it will serve as the basis for discussions starting next week.

Prior negotiations to establish an agreement that satisfied the IMF’s debt-sustainability targets, which were outlined in the initial assessment of the fund’s $3 billion loan program with Ghana, broke down with two parties that held about $13 billion of the country’s foreign bonds.

Nevertheless, given that Ghana’s economy has since recovered, two sources stated that they anticipated the agreement would be in line with the fund’s modified DSA in light of the second review’s conclusion in early April.

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