Global financial top brass descend on Riyadh

(From left:) Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and BlackRock Chairman Larry Fink are among the stellar corporate lineup attending the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh. (Reuters)
Updated 24 October 2017
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Global financial top brass descend on Riyadh

RIYADH: A major conference hosted by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) gets underway in the Saudi capital today attended by some of the world’s top business leaders and money managers.
The Future Investment Initiative (FII) is being organized in the context of Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s ambitious blueprint for economic reform.
It is being held under the patronage of King Salman and under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who will today welcome some 2,500 delegates to the event.
Dozens of the biggest names in global business are making the trip to Riyadh — among them IMF chief Christine Lagarde and BlackRock boss Larry Fink.
The pair will be among the speakers opening the plenary session of the conference which also includes Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser.
The event will see “internationally-renowned business leaders and influencers discuss how the challenges of the future can be addressed,” said PIF Managing Director Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan.
Attendees are set to grapple with the big themes of the global economy across a range of industries and against a backdrop of unprecedented economic reforms underway in the Kingdom.
“We see FII as a unique opportunity for the global community to bring together aspirational thinking around the future of the world economy with the realities of investment,” said Pedro Oliveira, Oliver Wyman’s regional managing partner.
“We are delighted to be partners to the PIF in driving that thinking around financial services, health care and life sciences as well as urban planning and infrastructure,” he added.
Other confirmed speakers at the event represent the leaders of major asset managers including Thomas Barrack, executive chairman of Colony NorthStar; Leon Black, chairman and CEO of Apollo Global Management; and Victor Chu, chairman and CEO of First Eastern Investment Group.
These top asset managers will be joined by speakers representing a range of sovereign wealth funds and pension funds.
Most of the important GCC sovereign wealth funds will also be represented at the event including Mahmood Hashim Al-Kooheji, CEO of Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company and Khaldoon Al-Mubarak, the CEO of Mubadala Investment Company.
The first day of the conference will begin with CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin leading a panel of financial experts in debating the new social, economic and intellectual frameworks needed to drive global progress.
Another key session will examine breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, big data, social media, medical science, and smart infrastructure.
The event is also set to make headlines away from the main stage with major projects of the future on display as well as cutting -edge technology.
The first day of the investment conference will wrap up with energy executives discussing the technology expected to shape the future of the sector — with the keynote address set to be delivered by Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih.
Other sessions will explore topics such as the future of the information economy, leadership and he age of uncertainty.
Global management consultancies from McKinsey, BCG and Oliver Wyman will also be in attendance — some of whom have been working on projects linked to the Kingdom’s economic transformation.
The gathering aims to explore the evolving role of sovereign wealth in driving the next wave of business, innovation, technology and investment.
Established in 1971 to invest in commercial project, the PIF has contributed to the establishment of numerous Saudi Arabian companies, supporting innovation, industrial diversification and non-oil sector development in the Kingdom.


US unveils new veto threat against WTO rulings

Updated 23 June 2018
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US unveils new veto threat against WTO rulings

  • US tells WTO appeals rulings in trade disputes could be vetoed if they took longer than the allowed 90 days
  • Trump, who has railed against the WTO judges in the past, threatens to levy a 20 percent import tax on European Union cars

GENEVA: The United States ramped up its challenge to the global trading system on Friday, telling the World Trade Organization that appeals rulings in trade disputes could be vetoed if they took longer than the allowed 90 days.
The statement by US Ambassador Dennis Shea threatened to erode a key element of trade enforcement at the 23-year-old WTO: binding dispute settlement, which is widely seen as a major bulwark against protectionism.
It came as US President Donald Trump, who has railed against the WTO judges in the past, threatened to levy a 20 percent import tax on European Union cars, the latest in an unprecedented campaign of threats and tariffs to punish US trading partners.
Shea told the WTO’s dispute settlement body that rulings by the WTO’s Appellate Body, effectively the supreme court of world trade, were invalid if they took too long. Rulings would no longer be governed by “reverse consensus,” whereby they are blocked only if all WTO members oppose them.
“The consequence of the Appellate Body choosing to breach (WTO dispute) rules and issue a report after the 90-day deadline would be that this report no longer qualifies as an Appellate Body report for purposes of the exceptional negative consensus adoption procedure,” Shea said, according to a copy of his remarks provided to Reuters.
An official who attended the meeting said other WTO members agreed that the Appellate Body should stick to the rules, but none supported Shea’s view that late rulings could be vetoed, and many expressed concern about his remarks.
Rulings are routinely late because, the WTO says, disputes are abundant and complex. Things have slowed further because Trump is blocking new judicial appointments, increasing the remaining judges’ already bulging workload.
At Friday’s meeting the United States maintained its opposition to the appointment of judges, effectively signalling a veto of one judge hoping for reappointment to the seven-seat bench in September.
Without him, the Appellate Body will only have three judges, the minimum required for every dispute, putting the system at severe risk of breakdown if any of the three judges cannot work on a case for legal or other reasons.
“Left unaddressed, these challenges can cripple, paralyze, or even extinguish the system,” chief judge Ujal Singh Bhatia said.
Sixty-six WTO member states are backing a petition that asks the United States to allow appointments to go ahead. On Friday, US ally Japan endorsed the petition for the first time, meaning that all the major users of the dispute system were united in opposition to Trump.