Sabic chief sees Brexit as start of new era for UK-KSA trade

Ibrahim Al-Omar, the governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority and Sabic CEO Yousef Al-Benyan address business chiefs in London on Thursday. (AN Photo)
Updated 09 March 2018
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Sabic chief sees Brexit as start of new era for UK-KSA trade

LONDON: Saudi Arabia will firmly support the UK as it embarks on Brexit, the chief of chemicals giant Sabic said on Thursday.
Speaking at a gathering of CEO’s from both countries in London, Sabic CEO Yousef Al-Benyan said: “The UK is going through a journey with Brexit. As a Kingdom that is also going through a journey, we understand.”
He added: “We see this as chance to take advantage of Brexit – this is a new chapter and is the time to make sure our interests in the region are included in the new (UK) vision.”
The SABIC CEO said that changes in Saudi Arabia were “coming in a speedy manner like we have never seen” and that SMEs were going to play a major role in bringing the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to fruition.
“SMEs will have an ability to play a major role, especially around job creation for males and females,” Al-Benyan said. “In order for the SMEs and companies to be sustainable they have to grow globally and invest in technology advances to stay ahead. This is why partnerships with the UK and other partners is going to be a very important catalyst for success.”
Speaking on the same panel, Ibrahim Al-Omar, the governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), agreed that the development of two-way trade was imperative for the sustainability of the Kingdom’s 2030 vision.
He said: “We look to the UK particularly for health, education and fintech. The UK has a good supply of these skills and we have a big demand.
The SAGIA governor added: “Investors told us they were concerned about transparency, regulation and then customs. So we identified 297 reforms and we have already completed 45 percent of them, including issuing the new companies law and creating the commercial arbitration center. Today, you will be granted a business visa within 24 hours of application.”
Al-Benyan added: “In Saudi Arabia, this is the first time we have a clear vision of where we are going – but we need to be realistic, there are so many challenges to implementation.”
Speaking at the event, former UK secretary of state Peter Mandelson agreed the proof of the vision’s success lies in its execution.
He said: “The Saudi vision is clear and ambitious and, if it delivers, it will be a point of transformation.”


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.