Exports grew from Middle East, Russia and Africa in 2017 says WTO

WTO director general Roberto Azevedo warned that “a cycle of retaliation is the last thing the world economy needs.” Reuters
Updated 12 April 2018
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Exports grew from Middle East, Russia and Africa in 2017 says WTO

  • Stable demand for oil and other commodities lifts exports 2.3%
  • “A cycle of retaliation is the last thing the world economy needs,” warns WTO director general

The Middle East, Africa, and Russia saw steady export growth of 2.3 percent in volume terms last year on the back of stable demand in quantity terms for oil and other natural resources, according to the latest report by the World Trade Organization.
Imports generated by the combined regions increased slightly by 0.9 percent partly as a result of higher primary commodity prices, “which raise export revenue in resource exporting countries and allow more imports to be purchased,” the WTO said.
Energy prices have more than doubled since January 2016, but even at around $70 per barrel oil prices “still remain below the $100 level that prevailed before the middle of 2014,” the organization noted.
World trade in global goods is expected to maintain its robust recovery since the global financial crisis, but might falter if trade tensions between China and US escalate further.
Trade in goods was forecast to grow 4.4 percent this year after a decade averaging 3 percent a year following the crisis. Last year it grew 4.7 percent — much higher than the 3.6 percent forecast in September — and a further 4 percent rise is expected in 2019, the WTO said.
“However, this important progress could be quickly undermined if governments resort to restrictive trade policies, especially in a tit-for-tat process that could lead to an unmanageable escalation,” WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said in a statement. “A cycle of retaliation is the last thing the world economy needs.”
The United States and China have threatened each other with tens of billions of dollars’ worth of tariffs in recent weeks, leading to worries that Washington and Beijing may engage in an all-out trade war.
The WTO’s 2018 forecast puts world trade growth at the top end of previous expectations, since the organization said last September that it expected 2018 growth of 1.4 to 4.4 percent.
The latest forecast raises that to 3.1 to 5.5 percent based on current GDP forecasts, but “a continued escalation of trade restrictive policies could lead to a significantly lower figure,” the WTO said.
“These forecasts do not, and I repeat, they do not factor in the possibility of a dramatic escalation of trade restrictions,” Azevedo told a news conference.
“It is not possible to accurately map out the effects of a major escalation, but clearly they could be serious,” he said. “Poorer countries would stand to lose the most.”


US-Saudi business council reports $13bn in contracts

Updated 24 May 2019
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US-Saudi business council reports $13bn in contracts

  • Improved oil prices, combined with a government focus on spending, contributed to the rise, the council said

LONDON: The value of joint Saudi-US contracts rose to $13 billion in the first quarter of 2019, according to a business council report.

That marked the highest value of awarded contracts since the first quarter of 2015, the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council said.

The value of contracts awarded during the first quarter amounted to about half of the total value in all of last year, it added.

The contracts “included many vital projects, notably in the oil, gas, water and transport sectors,” Abdallah Jum’ah, the co-chair of the council, was reported as saying by Asharq Al-Awsat.

Energy was the top sector, with $3.1 billion of the value of contracts awarded, with many struck by Saudi Aramco. 

Improved oil prices, combined with a government focus on spending, contributed to the rise, the council said.

The construction sector also looks set for a recovery after many projects were put on hold due to the oil-price crash.

“If the pace of awarding construction contracts witnessed during the first quarter of 2019 continues for the rest of the year, the index of awarding construction contracts may return to the range we witnessed before the canceling and postponing of mega projects due to lower oil revenue,” the council said.