Malaysia, Saudi Arabia firms sign over $2 bln worth of deals

Malaysia's Minister of Higher Education Idris Jusoh (R) and Saudi Arabia's Minister of Labour and Social Development Ali Nassir Al Ghafies (L) sign documents as Saudi King Sultan Salman Abdulaziz and Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak look on during the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two countries in Putrajaya, outside Kuala Lumpur on February 27, 2017. (AFP / MOHD RASFAN)
Updated 28 February 2017

Malaysia, Saudi Arabia firms sign over $2 bln worth of deals

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian companies and their Saudi Arabian counterparts signed on Tuesday preliminary agreements for seven deals worth more than $2 billion, as the oil-rich gulf nation seeks to build ties and investment opportunities in Asia.
The deals, valued at 9.74 billion ringgit ($2.19 billion), will cover joint ventures and cooperation in several sectors including oil and gas, Islamic finance, shariah compliant products, the halal industy and manufacturing, Malaysia’s Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed said at a press conference.
Saudi state oil company Aramco is also expected to sign a deal with Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) on Tuesday afternoon to invest $7 billion in an oil refinery and petrochemical project in Malaysia’s southern state of Johor.
(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff and Liz Lee)

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

Updated 13 min 13 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.