International trade body appoints new UAE chairs

The International Trade Council, one of the largest and oldest global business networking and trade promotion bodies, has appointed two new regional chairs for the UAE.
Updated 12 March 2018
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International trade body appoints new UAE chairs

LONDON: The International Trade Council, one of the largest and oldest global business networking and trade promotion bodies, has appointed two new regional chairs for the UAE as part of a bid to recruit more small- and medium-sized firms and boost trade in the area, particularly with Africa.
Michael Waechter, chairman of Dubai-based CRESCO Holding, a global company of professional services businesses and Jayanthi Cornelio, founder and CEO of Al-Shaiba Medical Supplies, also based in Dubai, have both been named as co-chairpersons to the council.
The International Trade Council (ITC) includes over 200 members across the UAE, including most of the largest corporations and state-owned groups. By encouraging more small- and medium-sized firms in the area to join, the ITC hopes to help generate more international trade and exports and exploit the UAE’s potential as an “economic gateway to Africa.” This in turn should help in reducing the area’s reliance on tourism and real estate, according to Chris Cook, a spokesman for the ITC, based in Washington.
Founded in 1956, the Brussels-based ITC is a non-profit organization with more than 29,000 members in some 76 countries and across all sectors. It helps members with trade opportunities, mentoring, as well as mediating trade disputes and dealing with technical trade barriers to trade, and works with government trade agencies, legislators and regional chambers.
Corporate members of the ITC (according to its website) include Al Hilal Group, Coral Deira Dubai, Sharjah Grand Hotel and The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management. European-based members include BMW, Bayer and KPMG.
New UAE regional chair Michael Waechter has organized networking and other events for entrepreneurs and international organizations visiting the Middle East and has helped several startups in the region. CRESCO Holding’s subsidiaries include businesses involved in compliance, legal, accounting, tech and a general trading firm, Al Malek Trading.
Born in the UAE, fellow regional chair Jayanthi Cornelio has a degree in electronics and telecoms and worked in the medical supply sector before founding Al Shaiba Medical Supplies. The company supplies medical equipment to hospitals and clinics across the Middle East and Africa.
Melanie Walker, board representative and member chairperson of the ITC, said: “Both of these remarkable individuals bring deep executive and operational experience to the council.
The regional chairpersons support local council members and represent them to improve services provided by the ITC as well as providing networking opportunities. As well as the UAE, new regional chairs have also recently been appointed to the council’s areas in the UK, Turkey and Kazakhstan as well as in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley and San Francisco, three of the six regions it operates in the US. Other regional chairs for the council cover Canada, India and Singapore.
In a recent review of the outlook for trade credit in 2018, the ITC said that for small businesses and middle-market companies, it remains challenging to arrange loans and lines of credit from banks and other lenders. But large corporations could use their leverage to insist on longer payment terms putting pressure on supply chains.
With tensions high in the Middle East, the Korean peninsula, and other “hot zones” and US domestic strategy unclear, the council said that perhaps the greatest risks relating to credit were political.
Last year, the council flagged up to its members new regulations which came into force in Saudi Arabia requiring manufacturers, brand owners and importers to prove that their plastic products are oxo-biodegradable. It followed similar legislation in the UAE. The council also updates its members on petitions for the imposition of anti-dumping duties.


Gulf Arab economies to accelerate modestly through 2020 – poll

Updated 6 min 3 sec ago
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Gulf Arab economies to accelerate modestly through 2020 – poll

  • Gulf Arab economies will probably enjoy their best environment for growth since the oil price crash
  • Many economists do not expect oil prices to keep rising in the long term
DUBAI: Gulf Arab economies are likely to accelerate over the next couple of years as governments boost spending, but growth will not return to the boom levels enjoyed before oil prices plunged in 2014, a quarterly Reuters poll of economists found.
Since mid-2018, the countries have been increasing oil production as restrictions imposed by a global agreement to restrain output have eased. This is expected to inflate gross domestic product in their oil sectors.
Meanwhile, higher oil prices are giving governments more money that they can spend to stimulate demand in the non-oil parts of economies. Brent crude is above $80 a barrel, near four-year highs, up from around $75 three months ago.
Consequently, Gulf Arab economies will probably enjoy their best environment for growth since the oil price crash.
“The surge in oil prices over the past few months ... is likely to tempt policymakers to loosen fiscal policy further,” said Jason Tuvey, senior emerging markets economist at London-based Capital Economics.
“Most governments are currently in the process of preparing their budgets for 2019 and the backdrop of higher oil prices means that the authorities are likely to put forward plans to raise spending significantly next year. That should help to support growth in non-oil sectors.”
Saudi Arabia has already said it plans to increase state spending over 7 percent next year, and on Tuesday, it appeared to loosen fiscal policy slightly in an announcement on annual allowances for state employees.
The poll of 17 economists projected Saudi gross domestic product would grow 2.0 percent this year, 2.5 percent in 2019 and 3.0 percent in 2020, after shrinking 0.9 percent last year, its first decline since the global financial crisis in 2009.
Growth in the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar is also expected to accelerate in 2019 and rise further or maintain that level in 2020. The UAE’s GDP is predicted to expand 3.1 percent next year and 3.5 percent in 2020, after 2.5 percent this year.
Nevertheless, growth in the region is not likely to come close to rates seen in the boom years. Saudi Arabia averaged over 5 percent in the five years through 2014; the UAE averaged 4.5 percent.
One reason is that private sectors have been hurt by the slump of the last few years; companies across the region are cautious in hiring and real estate prices are sinking. Also, U.S. monetary tightening is lifting Gulf interest rates.
Meanwhile, many economists do not expect oil prices to keep rising in the long term, so governments will save rather than spend much of their windfall revenues. Capital Economics, for example, forecasts oil will fall back to $60 by the end of next year and $55 by the end of 2020.
The two smallest and financially weakest members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, Bahrain and Oman, are not expected to see a surge in growth next year because their state spending is constrained by big budget deficits.
Bahrain this month obtained commitments from its rich Gulf allies for a $10 billion, multi-year aid package, but that is tied to deficit-cutting reforms that are to include spending reductions in some areas.
Bahrain’s GDP growth is expected to edge down to 2.8 percent next year and 2.6 percent in 2020 from 2.9 percent this year. Oman’s growth is projected to slip to 3.0 percent and 2.7 percent from 3.1 percent.