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.


Pakistan, China extend currency swap agreement

Updated 30 min 14 sec ago
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Pakistan, China extend currency swap agreement

  • The arrangement will ease pressure on dollar-based foreign exchange reserves while importing machinery for CPEC-related projects, say financial experts
  • The CSA amount has been increased from 10 billion yuan to 20 billion, and from 165 billion rupees to 351 billion

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Thursday said it has extended a currency swap arrangement (CSA) with the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) for three years in their respective local currencies.
The central banks also agreed to increase the CSA amount from 10 billion yuan ($1.56 billion) to 20 billion, and from 165 billion Pakistani rupees ($1.43 billion) to 351 billion. 
A CSA allows parties to exchange payments in one currency for equivalent amounts in the other to facilitate bilateral trade settlements, providing liquidity support to financial markets.
“The increase in the CSA amount reinforces the commitment of the two central banks to promote the usage of local currencies in bilateral trade and investment, and strengthen financial cooperation between the two countries,” the SBP said.
The CSA was signed on Dec. 23, 2011, to promote bilateral trade and finance direct investment between the two countries in their respective currencies.
Financial experts term this agreement and its continuation a big development, especially in the presence of the ongoing projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“In the presence of CPEC (the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor), this is a huge development since it will ease the pressure on foreign exchange reserves needed for the import of machinery to undertake CPEC-related projects,” said Muzamil Aslam, senior economist and CEO of EFG-Hermes Pakistan.
Since the CSA is a bilateral financial transaction, all terms and conditions apply equally to both countries, and the pricing is based on standard market benchmarks, which are widely accepted in both domestic markets. Both banks will be able to draw on the swap line anytime during the tenure of the swap. 
The SBP can purchase yuan from the PBOC against the rupee, and repurchase its local currency with the same yuan on a predetermined maturity date and exchange rate.
Similarly, the PBOC can purchase rupees against the yuan, for which standard market pricing will apply. Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves have plummeted to $16.6 billion. 
“The CSA will help Pakistan avert pressure on the US dollar since exports between Pakistan and China will take place in their local currencies,” Aslam told Arab News.
“It will also ease pressure on the current account deficit, as we will have to pay in Chinese currency instead of the dollar.”
Muhammad Sohail, senior financial expert and CEO of Topline Securities, said: “This is a short-term step to avert a major foreign exchange reserves crisis. Pakistan needs to seriously take measures to boost its exports and curtail its imports.”
This is the second CSA that the SBP has signed, the first one being with the Central Bank of Turkey on Nov. 1, 2011.