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Egypt has launched a digital platform for petroleum products and natural gas, as the country moves ahead on the path toward digital transformation, Daily News Egypt reported.

Announcing the launch of the initiative, Tarek El Molla, minister of petroleum and mineral resources, said the new digital services will provide an integrated system to manage and follow up on the supply of fuel to cars using a smart card instead of paper coupons.

He said the new digital service platform will ensure secure transportation and circulation of petroleum products, which will preserve the rights of the contracting parties, through data that can be accessed through the smart card.

El Molla further noted that cashout services will be available in gas stations, and the public can withdraw cash from gas stations using their bank cards.

The minister revealed that withdrawal services are now made available at 400 petrol stations in the country.

Business

Sri Lanka central bank holds rates steady

Policy makers are assessing effects of interest hikes this year on cooling price growth, amid an unprecedented economic crisis.

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) has kept its key rates steady, a widely anticipated move as it awaits the effect of past hikes to trickle through the economy while a fall in global commodity prices is also expected to soothe domestic inflation.

The Standing Lending Facility rate stayed at 15.5 percent on Thursday, while the Standing Deposit Facility Rate remained at 14.5 percent.

Eleven out of 15 economists and analysts polled by the Reuters news agency had expected rates to remain unchanged.

The central bank has raised rates by a record 950 basis points so far this year to battle high inflation in Sri Lanka, which is wilting under a severe economic crisis.

A foreign exchange shortage has left the government struggling to pay for essential imports of fuel, fertilisers, food and medicine.

Inflation hit 60.8 percent year-on-year in July, and food costs expanded by a searing 90.9 percent, according to the latest government data.

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Business

US and Taiwan announce formal bilateral trade talks

The US has announced that they will begin formal trade negotiations with Taiwan, weeks after a controversial visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The first round of talks are expected to begin in “early fall”, said the Office of US Trade Representative.

Their discussion will include talks on trade facilitation, digital trade and anti-corruption standards.

Relations between the US and China have been increasingly tense following Ms Pelosi’s visit.

The US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade was first unveiled in June, with both sides now saying they had “reached consensus on the negotiating mandate”.

“We plan to pursue an ambitious schedule…. that will help build a fairer, more prosperous and resilient 21st century economy,” said Deputy United States Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi in a statement.

Trade between the US and Taiwan was worth nearly $106bn (£88bn) in 2020.

The announcement comes as China launched its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan after Ms Pelosi’s visit earlier in August.

Under the “One China policy”, the US recognises and has formal ties with China rather than the island of Taiwan but maintains a “robust unofficial” relationship with Taiwan, including continued arms sales to the island so that it can defend itself.

Beijing sees the self-governing island as its own, renegade territory that must be united with the mainland.

However, Taiwan is a self-ruled island that sees itself as distinct from the mainland.

Agencies

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UK inflation exceeds 10% as bread and milk prices soar

Inflation in the United Kingdom hit a new 40-year high last month, rising above 10% for the first time since 1982 and piling further pain on households already struggling to pay their bills.

Annual consumer price inflation hit 10.1% in July, according to data published by the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday, up from 9.4% in June. Soaring food prices — up 12.7% since July 2021 — were the largest single contributor to the acceleration in inflation, the ONS said.
The headline inflation number was higher than predicted by a  poll of economists, and food inflation is now running at its highest level in 14 years.
“All the eleven food and non-alcoholic beverage classes made upward contributions to the change in the annual inflation rate, where prices overall rose this year but fell a year ago,” the ONS said.
The largest upward contributions came from bread and cereals, and from milk, cheese and eggs, with notable price increases in cheddar cheese and yogurts.
On a monthly basis, the consumer price index was up 0.6% in July, compared with no change a year ago. Higher gasoline and diesel prices, together with rising air fares, were also to blame, the ONS added.

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