Mideast ride-hailing firm Careem acquires RoundMenu to trial food delivery

Ride-sharing app Careem said in June it would accelerate expansion plans after raising $500 million from investors. (Reuters)
Updated 20 February 2018
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Mideast ride-hailing firm Careem acquires RoundMenu to trial food delivery

LONDON: Careem, a major Middle East competitor to Uber, has acquired RoundMenu and plans to trial food-delivery services using the restaurant listing and reservation platform.

It is unclear as yet how much the Dubai-based ride-hailing firm paid for the RoundMenu website and app.

RoundMenu has raised $3.1 million in funding since it launched in 2012, Careem said in a statement. RoundMenu was first funded and launched by HoneyBee Tech Ventures, followed later by other institutional investment from BECO Capital, Horeca Trade and Middle East Venture Partners.

“It is a good outcome for all parties after five years of seeding this venture. It’s particularly good for the ecosystem to see acquisitions emerging by local tech players,” Ihsan Jawad, partner at HoneyBee Tech Ventures, told Arab News.

Careem itself has raised more than $570 million over six rounds of funding since it launched — also in 2012. According to some estimates Careem is now valued at more than $1.2 billion.

RoundMenu is available in 18 cities across nine Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt, according to its website, partly matching Careem’s MENA-wide offering of 90 cities across 13 countries in the broader region.

“Careem will begin testing a delivery capability for RoundMenu customers on a small scale later this month,” the company told media in a statement.

Competition for such a service is high in the region, with Talabat, Zomato, UberEats and Deliveroo all offering similar home delivery options.

Other acquisitions by Careem include Morocco-based taxi company, Taxii, in May 2015 and Saudi address-coding service Enwani in June 2015.

In July 2017, it took a minority stake in an Egyptian start-up that connects commuters with private buses in Cairo.


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.