Algeria blighted by youth unemployment despite recovering oil prices

Economists have predicted that the government of veteran President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 81, is likely to spend any increased revenues on imports, not on job-creation initiatives. (Reuters)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Algeria blighted by youth unemployment despite recovering oil prices

  • More than one in four Algerians under the age of 30 are unemployed in a country that remains heavily reliant on exports of oil and gas
  • Unlike neighboring Tunisia or Morocco, Algeria has made little headway in attracting foreign tourists, and foreign investors outside the energy sector give it a wide berth

ALGIERS: Two years after graduating from university, Ali Lamir, 26, has been spending his days sitting in a cafe in central Algiers thinking about how to land a job.
He is not alone — more than one in four Algerians under the age of 30 are unemployed in a country that remains heavily reliant on exports of oil and gas, despite numerous official promises of economic diversification.
Economists see little prospect of improvement despite a recovery in global oil prices. They have predicted that the government of veteran President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 81, is likely to spend any increased revenues on imports, not on job-creation initiatives.
“My university degree is of no use. I have been looking for a job for two years but to no avail,” said Lamir, a graduate of the Algiers Institute of Law and Administrative Sciences.
Unlike neighboring Tunisia or Morocco, Algeria has made little headway in attracting foreign tourists, and foreign investors outside the energy sector give it a wide berth, deterred by security concerns and bureaucracy.
A scheme of interest-free loans, introduced two decades ago to encourage young Algerians to start their own businesses, has not fulfilled early hopes that it could boost the non-energy sector, which today accounts for only 6 percent of exports.
“I have applied for jobs at many firms, but get nothing other than promises. I am willing to accept any position even with a low salary,” said 24-year-old Aziza Bari, a graduate in economics from Algiers University.
Overall unemployment stood at 11.1 percent in the first quarter of 2018, official data shows, but was 26.4 percent among the under-30s, who make up more than two thirds of Algeria’s 41 million people.
Such figures do not make for happy reading for Bouteflika, who has been in power since 1999 and is considering seeking a fifth term next year, despite poor health.
The recovery in global oil prices led to a 15 percent increase in Algeria’s oil and gas revenues in the first seven months of 2018 to $22 billion. Energy exports account for 95 percent of its foreign earnings.
Algeria has also gradually opened up industries such as food, home appliances and mobile phones to private investors, helping the non-energy sector to grow by 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the most recent available data.
But business leaders have demanded bolder steps. “Our country is in need of accelerating the transition movement to an economy of knowledge and innovation,” Aliu Haddad, head of the country’s largest business association Algerian Business Leaders Forum, told a conference.


WTO reviews China bid to slap US anti-dumping trade sanctions

Updated 2 min 32 sec ago
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WTO reviews China bid to slap US anti-dumping trade sanctions

  • The decision to appoint an arbitrator was reached during a special meeting of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body
  • The use of anti-dumping duties is permitted under international trade rules as long as they adhere to strict conditions

GENEVA: A World Trade Organization arbitrator will review Friday a Chinese request to impose more than $7 billion in annual sanctions on the US over anti-dumping practices, a Geneva trade official said.
The decision to appoint an arbitrator was reached during a special meeting of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body convened to discuss developments in a five-year-old trade dispute between the world’s top two economies.
Beijing had already warned earlier this month that it planned to ask the global trade body during the meeting for permission to impose $7.04 billion in annual trade sanctions on Washington in the case.
China’s representative told Friday’s meeting that measures taken by Washington had “seriously infringed China’s legitimate economic and trade interests.”
A source close to the WTO meanwhile said that the arbitration “was automatically triggered after the United States informed the WTO that it objected to the level of retaliation proposed by China.”
WTO arbitration can often be a drawn-out process, and the results are not expected to be known for months.
China initially filed its dispute against the US back in December 2013, taking issue with the way Washington assesses whether exports have been “dumped” at unfairly low prices onto the US market.
The use of anti-dumping duties is permitted under international trade rules as long as they adhere to strict conditions, and disputes over their use are often brought before the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body.
In this specific case, China alleged that the US, in violation of WTO rules, was continuing a practice known as “zeroing,” which calculates the price of imports compared to the normal value in the US to determine predatory pricing.
In October 2016, a panel of WTO experts found largely in China’s favor in the case, including on the issue of “zeroing.”
The US, which has repeatedly lost cases before the WTO over its calculation method, said in June last year that it would implement the panel’s recommendations within a “reasonable” time frame.
This past January, the DSB set an August 22 deadline for Washington to bring its practices in line with the 2016 ruling.
According to WTO rules, the plaintiff in such cases can request permission to impose sanctions if the parties have not reached agreement on a satisfactory compensation within 20 days of the WTO deadline.