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.”


India court allows Vedanta to reopen controversial plant

Updated 16 December 2018
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India court allows Vedanta to reopen controversial plant

  • The city of Thoothukudi had been rocked by long-running protests over the plant
  • Protesters say it harms the environment and the health of those living near it, claims the company has long denied

NEW DELHI: An Indian copper smelter at the centre of a police shooting that left 13 protesters dead has been granted permission to reopen by the country's environmental court.
The Sterlite plant, owned by British mining giant Vedanta Resources, was closed after the bloody police crackdown in May on protesters who say the smelter is poisoning the air and water.
Vedanta Resources, owned by Indian-born billionaire tycoon Anil Agarwal, had appealed against the plant's closure by the state government of Tamil Nadu where it is located.
The National Green Tribunal, a federal authority which rules on environmental matters, ordered Saturday that the plant in Thoothukudi city could resume operation.
Sterlite CEO P. Ramnath on Sunday welcomed the decision.
"We are happy that all those affected by the closure will get back their source of livelihood and the town of Thoothukudi will revert to normalcy," he said in a statement on Twitter.
The Tamil Nadu state government has said it will appeal the decision in India's highest court.
The city of Thoothukudi, previously known as Tuticorin, had been rocked by long-running protests over the plant, one of the largest in India.
Protesters say it harms the environment and the health of those living near it, claims the company has long denied.
The demonstrations intensified in May after Vedanta sought to double the annual capacity of the plant.
On May 22, police opened fire on thousands of protesters, killing 13 people.
The plant was shuttered by the state government in the aftermath of the shooting.
The company denies all charges and maintains that it adheres to the best environmental standards.
The federal green court ordered Vedanta to spend one billion rupees ($13.9 million) over three years to assist local communities.
But it criticised the pollution regulators in Tamil Nadu, saying they stalled the case by tying up the company in paperwork.