Hyundai Heavy discusses joint project with Saudi minister

Updated 02 July 2016
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Hyundai Heavy discusses joint project with Saudi minister

SEOUL: Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) is expected to enjoy another boost with its joint construction projects building turbine engine plants and shipyards in Saudi Arabia.
Korea Times reported that HHI Chairman Choi Gil-seon and President Kwon Oh-gap met Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih in Seoul to discuss joint operations between HHI and Saudi Aramco.
Khalid Al-Falih is also chairman of Saudi Aramco.
Experts believe the meeting is expected to help the struggling shipyard’s efforts in normalizing its management if they deliver detailed outcomes over the projects.
Last November, HHI signed a general memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Saudi Aramco to jointly collaborate on business development opportunities in Saudi Arabia.
Under the agreement, HHI secured a bid preference over ships ordered by the Saudi government as well as the maintenance contract.
Chung Ki-sun, senior vice president of HHI Corporate Planning and also a grandson of Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung, reportedly played a leading role behind the MoU deal with Saudi Aramco.
Saudi Aramco Chairman Khalid Al-Falih wa appointed as Saudi Energy Minister in May last year.
He also met Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Joo Hyung-hwan after the meeting with HHI officials.
Al-Falih earlier said Saudi Arabia wants to expand its investments in China’s energy industry as part of efforts to boost cooperation with a top customer.
Al-Falih’s comments were made in an e-mailed statement after discussions with China’s Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli and other officials in Beijing during a G20 ministerial meeting.
“Saudi Arabia is very keen to elevate their partnership in the energy sector to the highest level,” he was quoted as saying in the statement, published in Reuters.
He said he hoped Saudi investments could increase to cover all Chinese provinces and that there was room to grow bilateral trade in both energy and other hydrocarbons products such as petrochemicals.
Al-Falih also said he wanted to see new investment projects carried out by Saudi and Chinese sovereign wealth funds, and added that the two countries shared interest in crude oil storage, mining, renewable energy and industrial development.
Both Saudi Aramco and petrochemicals conglomerate Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) have joint venture businesses in China and new projects under development.

In January, Aramco said it was also in advanced talks to invest in refineries in China. SABIC said in May it had agreed to build another petrochemical factory there.


France unveils major tax cuts as growth flags

Updated 24 September 2018
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France unveils major tax cuts as growth flags

  • Critics say most people have been left behind by President Emmanuel Macron’s policies so far
  • Patience is wearing thin for many as unemployment has barely budged since Macron’s election in May 2017

PARIS: The French government on Monday unveiled billions of euros in tax relief for businesses alongside further budget cuts, as President Emmanuel Macron struggles to deliver more jobs and higher growth as promised.
The former investment banker’s poll ratings have dived in recent weeks as growth has slowed despite a series of reforms presented as unavoidable shock treatment for getting France on solid financial footing.
Critics say most people have been left behind by Macron’s policies so far, which have seen him raise taxes on retirees while cutting a wealth tax on top earners.
Pensions and welfare benefits will be shaved further in the 2019 budget — Macron complained in June that France spends “a crazy amount of dough” on social programs.
And 4,100 more public sector jobs will be axed as Macron aims for a deficit of 2.8 percent of GDP, below the 3 percent limit set for EU members.
Higher taxes on fuel and cigarettes will also hit consumers next year.
But the government says the pillar of the 2019 budget will be a combined €20 billion ($23.5 billion) of tax cuts for businesses and six billion euros in tax relief for households, including a gradual end to an annual housing tax.
“The long-term goal is to build a new French prosperity that will benefit all French people in all regions,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said as he presented the budget in Paris.
But he acknowledged that results from Macron’s reform drive so far “are unsatisfactory compared with our European neighbors, and we certainly don’t intend to stop here.”
“We’re doing less well than our European partners on unemployment, growth, the deficit and debt,” Le Maire said.
Patience is wearing thin for many as unemployment has barely budged since Macron’s election in May 2017, standing at 9.1 percent.
The 40-year-old centrist captured the presidency with a pledge to shake up an economy he says is held back by excessive regulations and rigid labor laws.
But growth has been slowing and is now widely expected to reach just 1.6 percent this year, and the government is forecasting an uptick to just 1.7 percent next year.
A poll released Sunday found just 29 percent satisfied with Macron’s leadership, while a separate survey last week said only 19 percent of French people held a positive view of his record.
He has promised to balance the budget in France for the first time in more than 40 years by the end of his term in 2022 — a task that will require an overhaul of state spending.
That has led him to take on France’s powerful labor unions to a degree not seen in decades, overcoming stiff resistance to new laws making it easier to fire people and ending the privileged status of rail workers.
He has also promised to cut 120,000 public sector jobs by the end of his term in 2022, a daunting prospect in a country known for its expansive bureaucracy which guarantees civil servants jobs for life.
Yet Macron has appeared to be dismissive of the concerns of everyday voters, most recently telling an unemployed gardener to go get a job in a restaurant or construction instead.
His reformist zeal has also exposed him to criticism that his policies favor businesses in particular, and he has struggled to shake off perceptions that he is “president of the rich.”
The vow to cut social spending is unlikely to reassure the lowest earners in France, where the number of people living below the poverty line has swelled to 14 percent of the population, according to national statistics office INSEE.