Indonesian president says trade wars too destructive

Indonesian President Joko Widodo urged the IMF to identify countries that use economic, foreign exchange, and trade policies to ‘contribute to unfair competitive advantages.’ (AFP)
Updated 12 October 2018
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Indonesian president says trade wars too destructive

  • ‘Victory or defeat in wars always brings the same result — destruction. It’s pointless to become the leading economy in a sinking world’

NUSA DUA, Indonesia: Indonesian President Joko Widodo added to the chorus of criticism on Friday over trade friction between the US and China, telling financial leaders gathered in Bali, Indonesia, that victory in a trade war would be pointless in a “sinking world.”
Widodo’s comments to the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank came as share markets rebounded after The Wall Street Journal reported that President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping may meet at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, late next month.
Much attention at the finance meetings in this tropical resort has focused on threats to growth from the uncertainty and disruptions associated with trade friction. A bout of turmoil in financial markets this week added to the sense of urgency over the issue.
Widodo, who often sprinkles his speeches with references to movies, underscored those worries in his opening speech as host to the IMF-World Bank meeting.
“The balance of powers and the alliances among major economies are breaking down. Weakness in coordination and cooperation has caused many problems, including the dramatic rise in the price of crude oil and turmoil in the currency markets of developing economies,” Widodo told the gathering of financial officials, central bank governors and experts.
Instead, attention should be focused on slowing growth and disruptions from new technologies that are turning many industries “upside down,” he said.
In an allusion to the popular TV series “Game of Thrones,” he said fighting among the “great houses” was distracting them from the threat of an “evil winter.”
“Victory or defeat in wars always brings the same result — destruction,” he said. “It’s pointless to become the leading economy in a sinking world.”
In a statement released Thursday, the senior American official in Bali, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, pointed to relatively strong US economic indicators as evidence policies meant to nurture sustained growth are working.
He urged the IMF to identify countries that use economic, foreign exchange, and trade policies to “contribute to unfair competitive advantages.”
The Trump “administration is committed to achieving a fair and reciprocal trading and investment relationship with all of our partners, including China,” he said. “We welcome the IMF’s work on tariff and non-tariff barriers, and we encourage the IMF to focus on less open trade regimes in order to play a constructive role in promoting global solutions.”
Finance ministers and central bank governors of the Group of 20 industrial nations wrapped their meeting in Bali with no major announcements.
Asked about the tussle between Washington and Beijing over technology policy and trade, Argentine Finance Minister Nicolas Dujovne said the G-20 does provide a ground for discussing such issues.
But he added, the “difference that persists should be resolved between those countries.”
Friday’s IMF-World Bank meeting began with a moment of silence for victims of recent disasters, including a Sept. 28 earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 2,000 people on another Indonesian island, Sulawesi, and left perhaps thousands buried in mud.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said the disasters were a reminder of the institution’s mission of helping countries build resilience and deal with disasters, manage debt levels and invest in their people to prepare for the future, while helping to alleviate poverty and promote economic growth.
“Every day that you don’t build human capital, your economy, and your country, will fall farther and farther behind,” Kim said, noting that as when he was born in 1959, South Korea, now an affluent manufacturing powerhouse, was among the poorest countries in the world, with a literacy rate of only 23 percent.


RBS says Saudi bank merger boosts its core capital

Updated 16 June 2019
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RBS says Saudi bank merger boosts its core capital

  • RBS had a 15.3% interest in Alawwal bank
  • The changes would boost the banks CET1 core capital ratio by 60 basis points

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) said on Sunday the completion of a merger between Alawwal bank and Saudi British Bank would lead to RBS shedding $5.9 billion of risk weighted assets and boost its core capital.
RBS, through Dutch subsidiary NatWest Markets N.V., was part of a consortium including NLFI and Banco Santander S.A. that held an aggregate 40% equity stake in Alawwal bank, the British bank said in a statement. RBS also had an interest equivalent to a 15.3% stake in Alawwal bank.
RBS said that as a result of the merger completion, it would recognise an income gain on disposal of the Alawwal bank stake for shares received in Saudi British Bank of almost $503 million and a reduction in risk weighted assets of nearly $5 billion.
RBS also said the deal would extinguish legacy liabilities of almost $377.
The changes would increase the bank's CET1 core capital ratio by 60 basis points, it said.
The merger will also help RBS to focus on its target markets, RBS chief executive Ross McEwan said in a statement.
RBS, which was rescued in 2008 with a nearly $57 billion capital injection by the British government, has been shrinking its overseas operations since the financial crisis to focus on its UK lending operations.