New areas of Saudi-Swiss cooperation identified

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Saudi and Swiss officials sign an accord during a meeting trade and investment in Jeddah on Tuesday. (Courtesy: MCI)
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Saudi Minister of Trade and Investment Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi with Swiss Minister of Economic Affairs and Education Johann Schneider-Ammann during a meeting in Jeddah on Tuesday. (Courtesy: MCI)
Updated 18 July 2017

New areas of Saudi-Swiss cooperation identified

RIYADH: New areas of cooperation in trade were identified on Sunday during a meeting held in Jeddah between Commerce and Investment Minister Majid Al-Qassabi and his Swiss counterpart, Johan Schneider-Ammann.
During the meeting, the Saudi-Swiss sides discussed opportunities between the Kingdom and Switzerland and explored means of developing trade and investment opportunities, especially in the field of non-oil exports, as well as removing any obstacles that may hinder such activities.
There are 113 Swiss companies in the Kingdom, 94 of which are service companies and 19 are industrial. The volume of trade exchange between Saudi Arabia and Switzerland reached SR10.33 billion ($2.75 billion) in 2016.
It was also decided to provide Saudi companies with the latest technologies and expertise to raise the quality of Saudi products and facilitate their entry into European and international markets.
The two sides also stressed the importance of the Saudi-Swiss Business Council’s role in the promotion of business and investment activities between the two countries, and its contribution to current development issues, especially in the fields of high-tech precision industries and the search for specific quality investment opportunities.

Is the Dubai economy turning the corner?

Updated 42 min 7 sec ago

Is the Dubai economy turning the corner?

  • Expo 2020 expected to boost GDP
  • Relaxation of residency rules helps real estate

LONDON: Is the Dubai economy finally turning the corner? At least one major international bank thinks so.

It follows a move by the emirate's leadership to reboot an economy that has been hit hard by corporate job losses, the introduction of VAT and a slowing real estate sector.

The UAE’s non-oil economy is likely to “turn a corner” next year with Dubai’s Expo 2020 infrastructure projects, changes to visa rules and increased government spending set to boost growth, according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) research note.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s (ADNOC) downstream expansion plans are also expected to drive the country’s non-oil GDP growth, said the note compiled by Middle East and North Africa (MENA) economist Jean Michel Saliba.

The Gulf country’s real GDP growth is estimated to rise to 3.5 percent in 2019 from a forecast 2.8 percent increase this year and a 1.9 percent increase in 2017, said the note published on Thursday.

Buoyed by a recovery in oil prices, Abu Dhabi approved a 50 billion dirham ($13.6 billion) three-year stimulus package in early June, which BofAML estimated could add 0.4 percentage points to non-oil GDP growth.

ADNOC’s $45 billion five-year downstream investment plan — revealed in May — is estimated to add a further 1.1 percentage point to the emirate’s non-oil growth, the report said.

The Expo 2020 event in Dubai could drive up GDP growth by 2 percentage points between 2020 and 2021, the report said, by boosting job creation, consumption and tourist numbers.

Given the improvement in oil prices, the cost of Abu Dhabi’s stimulus spending is considered “financeable” by BofAML, while Dubai’s spending plans are said to be “modest.”

Recent structural reforms, including plans to introduce long-term expatriate visas for up to 10 years, could help to boost the UAE’s population and consumer demand, the note said.

“The new UAE long-term and temporary visa system should facilitate retention of white-collar expatriates,” it said.

“As we expect longer-term visas not to be linked to continued employment, this may increase expatriate incentives to acquire property and support real estate demand.”

The UAE announced in May that it would allow 100 percent foreign ownership of UAE companies in specific industries by the end of the year, a move that could give a welcome boost to foreign direct investment in the country.

A new UAE-wide insurance scheme may provide a one-time boost to corporate profits, the note said.

The UAE cabinet approved plans in June for the insurance scheme to replace the previous system whereby employers had to provide a monetary guarantee to cover each of their workforce.

The move is likely to free up capital that companies could choose to sit on or to reinvest, BofAML said.

“Should corporates invest, we estimate this could lead to a one-off 0.1percentage point boost to UAE non-hydrocarbon real GDP growth,” the report said.