Committee to decide on UAE industries open to full foreign ownership

Foreigners are set to be allowed to own up to 100 percent of onshore UAE companies following a directive announced this week. (Shutterstock)
Updated 24 May 2018
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Committee to decide on UAE industries open to full foreign ownership

  • Committee of representatives from UAE's seven emirates to decide on which industries are open to 100 percent foreign ownership.
  • Undersecretary for foreign trade & industry tells Bloomberg that new law's goal “is to attract quality investments and expertise and isn’t necessarily about the size or number of investments.”

LONDON: The UAE’s new law enabling foreigners to own 100 percent of onshore companies will be limited to specific industries deemed essential to the country’s economy, according to a senior government official.
Abdulla Al-Saleh, undersecretary for foreign trade & industry at the UAE’s Ministry of Economy, told Bloomberg that a final decision had not been taken on what industries to include in this week’s landmark decision to allow foreigners to fully own non-free zone companies.
Al-Saleh said a committee — made up of representatives of the country’s seven emirates — would make a decision on which industries to initially include, and would add further industries and companies in the future.
The law’s goal “is to attract quality investments and expertise and isn’t necessarily about the size or number of investments,” he said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg.
The UAE’s Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum said the ownership changes — as well as longer visas for selected students and selected professions — would be put implemented by the end of the year.
The move to extend foreign ownership has been welcomed by economists, even as key details have yet to be announced.
“The eligibility and the extensiveness of the investment liberalization will be critical to gauge the support to the economy,” Monica Malik, the chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, told Arab News on Thursday.
“Recent official comments indicated that the area of focus will likely be on factors such as job creation and technology transfer.”
Such a theme is in keeping with the UAE’s move to allow visas for up to 10 years for specialists working in medical, scientific, research and technical sectors, alongside 5-year student visas and 10-year visas for “exceptional” students.
Longer visa terms are predicted to especially impact the local real estate sector, which has languished in recent years thanks to increasing supply and sluggish economic conditions.


Oil up on OPEC uncertainty regarding production levels

Updated 22 June 2018
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Oil up on OPEC uncertainty regarding production levels

  • Saudi Arabia and Russia are in favor of raising output. Other OPEC-members including Iran have opposed this, resulting in a flurry of backdoor diplomacy ahead of the meeting
  • Phillip Futures said in a note that it expected “an approximate 300,000–600,000 barrels per day (bpd) hike by Saudi Arabia and Russia collectively”

SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose by around 1 percent on Friday, lifted by uncertainty over whether OPEC would manage to agree a production increase at a meeting in Vienna later in the day.
Brent crude oil futures were at $73.78 per barrel at 0502 GMT, up 73 cents, or 1 percent, from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $66.26 a barrel, up 72 cents, or 1.1 percent.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), a producer group with top exporter Saudi Arabia as the de facto head, is meeting together with non-OPEC members including No.1 producer Russia at its headquarters in the Austrian capital to discuss output policy.
The group started withholding supply in 2017 to prop up prices. This year, amid strong demand, the market has tightened significantly, pushing up crude prices and triggering calls by consumers to increase supplies.
Saudi Arabia and Russia are in favor of raising output. Other OPEC-members including Iran have opposed this, resulting in a flurry of backdoor diplomacy ahead of the meeting.
“The actual decision by OPEC and its partners — which may not actually become apparent until Saturday — is the big one traders are watching,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.
Phillip Futures, another brokerage, said in a note that it expected “an approximate 300,000–600,000 barrels per day (bpd) hike by Saudi Arabia and Russia collectively.”
US investment bank Jefferies said an increase in “the range of 450-750,000 bpd seems the most likely outcome” of the meeting, driven largely by Russia and Gulf OPEC members Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
Jefferies said these increases “would essentially offset Venezuelan declines and falling Iranian exports,” but the bank warned that global “spare capacity could fall globally to around 2 percent of demand – its lowest level since at least 1984.”
That would leave markets prone to supply shortages and price spikes in case of large, unforeseen disruptions.
The other big uncertainty is potential Chinese tariffs on US crude imports that Beijing may impose in an escalating trade dispute between the United States on one side and China, the European Union and India on the other.
Asian shares hit a six-month low on Friday as tariffs and the US-China trade battle start taking their economic toll.
Should the 25 percent duty on US crude imports be implemented by Beijing, American oil would become uncompetitive in China, forcing it to seek buyers elsewhere.
Chinese buyers are already starting to scale back orders, with a drop in supplies expected from September.
“If China’s import demand dries up, more than 300,000 bpd of US crude will have to find a new destination,” energy consultancy FGE said.
“This will certainly depress US Gulf Coast prices,” it said.