Saudi-Yemeni free-trade zone would benefit both countries, says business leader

Google map showing the vast Saudi-Yemeni border.
Updated 22 February 2017

Saudi-Yemeni free-trade zone would benefit both countries, says business leader

JEDDAH: Studies indicate that the establishment of a free-trade zone between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, a project that has been put on a hold due to political unrest in Yemen, would help boost economies of the two countries, according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
Prior to the political turmoil that engulfed the impoverished Arab country, the two sides had been planning to establish a free-economic zone in Al-Wadeeah, Najran with the support from the private sector and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).
The SPA report quoted Dr. Abdullah Marei Mahfouz, former chief of Saudi-Yemeni Business Council, as saying that the project represented an opportunity to boost trade ties between the two countries. He said that Yemen could benefit from this project by increasing its exports of fish, fruit and vegetables.
Highlighting the importance of the proposed free-trade zone, he said that the economic city had the potential to emerge as a hub for the storing and packaging industries.
The project will also help create thousands of jobs for the youth of Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Mahfouz predicted that commercial activities in the economic zone could reach the SR500-million mark in the first year.
According to the Council of Saudi Chambers, a free-trade zone between the two countries could also serve as a gateway for Saudi products to African countries.
Statistics indicate that the number of joint Saudi-Yemeni projects in the Kingdom is 340 and 109 in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia, Russia and China give EU trade reforms thumbs down at WTO

Updated 15 min 33 sec ago

Saudi Arabia, Russia and China give EU trade reforms thumbs down at WTO

  • China is suing US and EU at WTO
  • Kingdom warns new rules are concerning

The EU’s new rules against countries dumping cheap goods on its market got a rough ride at a World Trade Organization meeting, where China, Russia and Saudi Arabia led a chorus of disapproval, a trade official said on Thursday.

The EU, which is in a major dispute with China about the fairness of Chinese pricing, introduced rules last December that allow it to take into account “significant distortions” in prices caused by government intervention.

A Chinese trade official told the WTO’s anti-dumping committee that Beijing had deep concerns about the new methodology, saying it would damage the WTO’s anti-dumping system and increase uncertainty for exporters, an official who attended the meeting said.

China argued that the concept of “significant distortion” did not exist under WTO rules, and the EU should base its dumping investigations on domestic prices in countries of origin, such as China.

The EU reformed its rules in the hope they would allow it to keep shielding its markets from cheap Chinese imports while fending off a Chinese legal challenge at the WTO.
China said that when it joined the WTO in 2001, the other member countries agreed that after 15 years they would treat it as a market economy, taking its prices at face value.

But the US and the EU have refused, saying China still subsidises some industries, such as steel and aluminum, which have massive overcapacity and spew vast supplies onto the world market, making it impossible for others to compete.

China is suing both the US and the EU at the WTO to try to force them to change their rules.

Legal experts say the dispute is one of the most important in the 23-year history of the WTO, because it pits the major trading blocs against each other with fundamentally opposing views of how the global trade rules should work.

In the WTO committee meeting, Saudi Arabia said the new rules were very concerning, and it challenged the EU to explain how EU authorities could ensure a fair and objective assessment of “significant distortion.”

Russia said the EU rules violated the WTO rulebook and certain aspects were unclear and created great uncertainty for exporters. Bahrain, Argentina, Kazakhstan and Oman also expressed concerns.

But a US trade official said the discussion showed that appropriate tools were available within the WTO to address distortions affecting international trade.