Saudi business sector keen to expand global partnerships

Saudi business sector keen to expand global partnerships
Updated 09 October 2014

Saudi business sector keen to expand global partnerships

Saudi business sector keen to expand global partnerships

ICC Saudi Arabia will intensely pursue maximum mobilization and utilization of the business sector in a bid to enhance its global role, says Yasin Al-Sorour, head of the ICCSA at the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC).
“This is all the more essential considering the reputable status of the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which plays an effective role in the global economic and business policies,” Sorour told Arab News in an exclusive interview.
He said the formation of the ICCSA’s board of directors, which represents all major business sectors — whether industrial, financial, commercial or service — will ensure wider participation of such sectors in its activities.
The upcoming period will witness a major shift in the work of the ICCSA in the face of the existing economic challenges.
It will thus become an active platform to empower the Saudi business sector join global functions and provide a variety of insights in a manner that will, hopefully, serve the interests of business sectors in particular and the Saudi economy in general, Sorour added.
The vision of the ICCSA is based on the fact that the Saudi business sector is an integral part of the global business sector and the ICC is considered a bridge that links the two entities.
Therefore, he stated, it has become imperative to build bridges with counterparts at the global level aimed at bringing knowledge, best practices and global systems into the Saudi business sector.

The following are excerpts from the interview:

What is the work nature of the ICC and its role in the development of private sector activities of member countries?
The Paris-based ICC is considered the biggest business organization and representative of global states.
Its members are selected from companies that have interests expanding into all activities of the private sector companies.
It retains strong and vital relations at the global level; it has a reputable advisory mission with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and key partner with UN agencies, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB) and, likewise, provides G20 and G8 countries with basic data on the principles of development of the international trade.
The ICC was established in 1919 in the aftermath of a major economic and business recession immediately following the First World War by a small group of business leaders who called themselves as ‘peace traders.’
It was termed the International Business Organization and was the sole entity empowered to speak on behalf of the business community in all parts of the world and geared to serve business sector through the activation of international trade and investment.
Who are members of the ICC?
The ICC has a membership base of more than 100,000 companies, both corporate and individuals, who are specialists or interested in this area representing more than 130 countries. They belong to organizations, associations or committees representing trade, business and economic sectors in all parts of the world. They are called national committees affiliated to the Paris-ICC and work hand in hand to support ICC’s mission and works.

What is the nature of the ICC activities?
The ICC undertakes three major activities: preparing laws and policies governing all global business transactions and commercial arbitration, preparing and drafting rules and laws governing commercial practices being practiced on daily basis through thousands of contracts and financial dealings such as the principles and norms of commercial arbitration, purchasing and delivery (INCOTERMS), united code of practices (UCP 600) and united code of bank guarantees, commercial funding and banking laws.

What committees are working under the umbrella of ICC?
A. There are 16 committees, which are entrusted to lay down ICC policies.
They meet standards and laws worked out by the ICC, which assigns works to committees, each of which is to be specialized in certain trade area and has to have a group of selected international experts.
All ICC policies, rules and standards are prepared by specialized working bodies called ‘policy-making committees.’
Normal procedure requires policy statements first to be adopted by a commission, in consultation with national committees, and then approved by the executive board, before they can be regarded as official and public ICC positions.
Meetings of commissions are normally held twice a year.
The commissions include technology and banking practices, commercial projects in community, commercial law and practices, trade and investment policy, insurance and financial services, arbitration, taxation, e-commerce, customs and trade laws, transport and logistics, biochemistry, competition, environment and energy, intellectual property, marketing and advertising, and anti-corruption.

With an international arbitration court, does ICC have any legal role in commercial disputes arising between countries?
This court was set up in 1923 under the guidance of the ICC and since then has been active in solving global commercial disputes. Saudi Arabia is a member of the Paris-based court and still retains membership and works vigorously for a couple of years.
By the end of the 20th century, commercial arbitration has gained wide and global acceptance in light of huge commercial disputes, which had been settled by the court whose rulings are recognized globally, where more than 120 countries signed the New York Convention in 1958 giving recognition to the court decisions.

What are the objectives of the International Court of Arbitration?
A. The court aims to promote efforts in solving international commercial disputes through the ICC arbitration and other mediation means, study judicial aspects of arbitration on how to settle disputes of commercial nature, benefit from new technologies to settle current commercial disputes, and develop commercial policies, rules and standards on continual basis.
As far as ICC Saudi Arabia is concerned, an arbitration commission was formed with the intent to attract ideas and views on issues related to international arbitration and forms of settling disputes.
The commission is also meant to promote the idea of resort to arbitration as a way to resolve commercial disputes, study judicial dimensions of arbitration and multifaceted forms of settlement of the global commercial nature and take advantage of the current dispute settlement services provided by the ICC in the light of current developments, including those issues related to modern technology.

Does ICC have any link with other commercial chambers?
Here comes the role of the World Chambers Federation (WCF), which functions under the umbrella of the ICC.
The WCF, specialized in commercial chambers worldwide and utilizing global communication networks, provides guidance and help commerce chambers exchange expertise and promote their performance in all financial, administrative and service areas.
The WCF also joins hands with a number of world organizations, such as the World Bank and the UN Development Program and other agencies, to help commerce chambers in the developing countries provide services and boost their role in economic growth of their respective countries.

In this context, how does the WCF plan to realize its objectives?
The WCF pursues to realize a package of objectives, notably encouragement of cooperation between local chambers and other world equivalents, organization of forums and conferences to allow heads of chambers contact with one another and exchange topics of common interests. The WCF also encourages chambers to make them mediators between private and government sectors and help chambers deliver best services to their respective members.

There is a network of global chambers, how does it work and what achievements are attainable?
This network links all chambers around the globe through its website (worldchambers.com) and it is the sole portal, which was designed by commerce chambers.
The website extensively boost exchange of trade information between commerce chambers and member companies through a network of 14,000 chambers listed on the directory of commerce chambers.
The network (portal) helps commerce chambers around the globe to develop their tradition mission on how to boost commercial companies through provision of smart and coherent markets, points of contact with customers and potential suppliers, and development of business opportunities and deals.
The network also joins all commerce chambers in all continents in the global (chamber) network project where there are more than 10,000 participants whose names appear in the directory through which the portal allows them to have direct access to their counterparts around the world.

What advantages do members enjoy from the network (portal)?
Members have so many advantages and benefits, notably enhancement of trade exchange around the world and provision of business data and services to all chambers worldwide.

The ICC provides services to combat commercial crimes, what kind of criminal activities are covered by such services?
The ICC services cover a number of crimes related to commercial and economic activities, including marine piracy where the International Marine Bureau (IMB) was established in 1981 to track movements of ships around the globe and possible ship piracy and take necessary measures to minimize piracy acts.
The IMB issues quarterly reports on marine piracy news.
There are also crimes related to financial and investment fraud where the anti-commercial crime office (ACCO) plays a pivotal role to avoid financial and investments frauds.
The office saved companies and individuals billions of dollars in losses, which they could have sustained from possible fraud acts through providing its members with the newly-discovered criminal methods.
As regards commodity counterfeit crimes, the office of counterfeit commodities (OCC) conducts global investigations on counterfeit items and their distribution networks, gives guidance on commodity counterfeiters and their methods.
The office runs training courses to company employees on how to discover counterfeited commodities.
For the Internet crimes, a special section was created based on the growing complaints raised by companies on their exposure to crimes through their websites. Through the section, intruders (hackers) could be tracked down and sent to courts.

When was ICCSA established, and what are its views and objectives?
The ICCSA was established in 1975 to represent the interests of Saudi economy at the ICC and other international forums. It undertakes its activities under the umbrella of the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC).
The vision of ICCSA is based on the fact that the Saudi business sector is an integral part of the global business sector and the ICC is considered a bridge that links between the two entities.
Therefore, it has become imperative to build bridges with counterparts at the global level aimed to bring knowledge, best practices and global systems into the Saudi business sector.
What goals and objectives the ICCSA pursues in the interest of promoting the private sector?
The International Chamber of Commerce Saudi Arabia (ICCSA) will intensely pursue maximum mobilization and utilization of the business sector in a bid to enhance its global role.
This is all the more essential considering the reputable status of the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which plays an effective role in the global economic and business policies.
The formation of the ICCSA’s board of directors, which represents all major business sectors — whether industrial, financial, commercial or service — will ensure wider participation of such sectors in its activities.
The upcoming period will witness a major shift in the work of the ICCSA in the face of the existing economic challenges.
It will thus become an active platform to empower the Saudi business sector join global functions and provide a variety of insights in a manner that will, hopefully, serve the interests of business sectors in particular and the Saudi economy in general.

Do you have overseas participation in a way that could enhance trade exchange and transfer of expertise?
The ICCSA has participated in the world trade agenda (WTA) summit. which brought together key business leaders and decision-makers to lay down priorities of business sector for an active trade policy in the 21st century.
The ICCSA also joined the G20 countries as well as meetings of political and economic groups in Paris and Geneva, ICC and G20 Advisory Group which were convened and timed with Davos Forum 2014.
The ICCSA also participated in the 7th conference of the WCF, Mexico, and the 8th WCF in addition to regular meetings of the permanent members of ICC (twice a year), the international council of the international commerce chambers (twice a year), RCG/MENA (twice a year), WATAC (twice a year).
The ICC Saudi Arabia attends regular meetings of permanent heads of ICC, Regional Consultative Group and the General Council of ICC.


Saudi non-oil sector’s expansion continues

Saudi non-oil sector’s expansion continues
Updated 03 August 2021

Saudi non-oil sector’s expansion continues

Saudi non-oil sector’s expansion continues
  • Rising demand from domestic, overseas clients supported upturn: Survey

RIYADH: Non-oil business activity in Saudi Arabia maintained a sharp pace of expansion in July, despite slowing for the second month running, according to a survey released on Tuesday. 

Output grew at a sharp pace, underlined by a robust increase in new business inflows, but still staff levels rose only fractionally in July as firms continued to signal an excess of business capacity despite rising sales.

Rising demand from domestic and overseas clients supported the upturn, which some firms linked to competitive pricing strategies.

The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell for the first time in four months to 55.8 in July, from 56.4 in June, due to weaker growth in output, new orders and employment compared to the previous month. 

Employment prospects were also harmed by a drop in future output expectations to the joint-weakest for more than a year, despite the strong improvement in operating conditions that extended the current run of growth to 11 months.

Hiring growth weakened to a fractional pace, as only few firms reported needing additional staff and backlogs were reduced solidly, suggesting a wide gap between demand and full capacity in spite of a sharp increase in new orders in recent months

“While Saudi Arabia’s PMI continued to signal strong growth in the non-oil economy in July, our survey data related to business capacity highlighted that challenging economic conditions prevailed,” said David Owen, an economist at IHS Markit.

“Firstly, employment growth slowed to only a marginal pace, suggesting that many companies still have little need for new hires in spite of a sharp rebound in new orders. Secondly, backlogs of work fell at the second-quickest pace for a year, adding further evidence that businesses have yet to reach pre-pandemic levels of capacity utilization,” he said.

“Sustained rises in demand should help the economy move closer to full capacity over the second half of the year. However, a drop in business expectations to its joint-weakest since June 2020 illustrated growing doubts that this will be a smooth ride,” he said.

Nearly 27 percent of surveyed businesses reported an increase in activity, linked to strengthening client demand and a loosening of pandemic-related measures.


SABIC set to announce Q2 financial results

SABIC set to announce Q2 financial results
Updated 03 August 2021

SABIC set to announce Q2 financial results

SABIC set to announce Q2 financial results

JEDDAH: The Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) said that it will hold a virtual press conference to review the financial results for the second quarter of 2021 on Thursday.

Yousef Al-Benyan, SABIC vice chairman and CEO, will attend the conference.

Based on the data available on Argaam news website, analysts predict profits of SR6.4 billion ($1.7 billion) compared to SR2.2 billion losses in the second quarter of 2020.

SABIC is seeking to become the largest petrochemical company in the world by 2030. 

The petrochemical industry in the Kingdom has a significant impact as it contributes more than SR260 billion annually to the gross domestic product (GDP), representing 36 percent of the industrial GDP and more than 57 percent of non-oil exports.


Startup of the Week: Skil Studio; Perfecting the art of marketing, designing

Startup of the Week: Skil Studio; Perfecting the art of marketing, designing
Updated 04 August 2021

Startup of the Week: Skil Studio; Perfecting the art of marketing, designing

Startup of the Week: Skil Studio; Perfecting the art of marketing, designing

JEDDAH: Zakaria Ahmad owns a digital design agency called Skil Studios focused on identity building, graphic designing, and social media content building.

“We were working with another company but recently started our own business,” said Ahmad.

The entrepreneur is grateful for the customers who trust them with the design and layout.

Their services start with designing the identity that represents their clients, then services such as digital marketing, e-commerce, and social media content development are also offered. Sometimes the business also offers videography and photography services.

The company’s founder said that most companies here focus more on quantity rather than quality. He said his company’s goal is to start an agency that cares about its clients and has their best interest in mind.

“We appreciate art in everything,” Ahmad said. He believes marketing and identity building is an art and his company seeks to achieve the target with perfection.

He said that they want to offer something new. Ahmad said his team does not believe in “copying and modifying already existing designs,” instead they want to introduce the latest global trends in the Middle East without compromising on their uniqueness.

He admitted that the business faced quite a few challenges along the way, which is usual for a startup.

“We were looking for talented people with a passion for designing and art to help us achieve our goals,” Ahmad said.

Ahmad is most proud of his company’s identity and the trust that his team has built with clients due to their sincere efforts.

He said members of the creative team ensure they understand the requirement of clients and deliver them whatever their demands are.


WEF leader urges countries to ‘pay close attention’ to digital currency

WEF leader urges countries to ‘pay close attention’ to digital currency
Updated 03 August 2021

WEF leader urges countries to ‘pay close attention’ to digital currency

WEF leader urges countries to ‘pay close attention’ to digital currency
  • The Asian superpower recently announced it will allow foreign visitors to use digital yuan in the upcoming Winter Olympics

DUBAI: Digital currency is going to play a big role in the global economy, a World Economic Forum (WEF) committee leader said, and nations need to pay attention to its unprecedented progress.

“Somebody needs to be paying close attention to this space, and assessing on a weekly basis, what the national policy ought to be regarding digital currencies,” Sheila Warren, deputy head of the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) committee of WEF, told Arab News.

Digital currency will continue to evolve, she said, adding some nations have already started investigating its effect on their own economies.

“We’re going to see a variety of offerings in the digital currency space — central bank digital currency, stable coin issuances, and cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin,” Warren explained.

According to Atlantic Council, which tracks central banks’ participation in the space, 81 countries have already explored a digital currency with China leading the pack.

The Asian superpower recently announced it will allow foreign visitors to use digital yuan in the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Other major central banks in the race are the US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan, and the Bank of England.

In the Gulf, Saudi Arabia and the UAE previously said they were working jointly on a digital currency plan — they called the initiative “Project Aber.”

The two countries aim to develop a cross-border payment system that will reduce transfer times and costs between banks.

Although every nation doesn’t necessarily have to “immediately jump in,” Warren said it is important to watch the evolution of the industry.

“If you're not doing that, you're going to be stuck, I think, with whatever the world decides, the direction of travel is going to be, and not have enough opportunity to help shape that,” she explained.

On decentralized cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, Warren said it will continue to have a huge role in the global economy as well.

“We’re going to see an increase in market cap, an increase in market share of the suite of digital currencies,” she said.

The private sector will take advantage of this by developing some of a blockchain or distributed ledger, she added.


Tunisians hope for better times ahead

Tunisians hope for better times ahead
Updated 03 August 2021

Tunisians hope for better times ahead

Tunisians hope for better times ahead
  • The proceeds from selling the plastic, combined with limited financial assistance from the government

TUNIS: As day breaks over Tunis, Jamila Ghuili takes her two small children out into the streets to scavenge in waste bins for plastic bottles that she sells to buy food for her family.
Abandoned by her husband, the single mother lives in a poor part of Omrane Superieur, a neighborhood of the capital where Tunisia’s economic malaise is acutely felt.
“Everything has become expensive,” said Ghuili, as her children played next to her.
Exacerbated by the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic grievances have fueled discontent in Tunisia, leading to protests that encouraged President Kais Saied to remove the prime minister and assume governing authority last month.
Ghuili, 55, gathers a few kilograms of dirt-covered plastic each day, foraged from heaps of garbage dumped at the roadside.
The proceeds from selling the plastic, combined with limited financial assistance from the government, amount to 190 Tunisian dinars ($69) a month, around half her monthly rent.
Hamza Ayari, who buys the bottles and re-sells them to factories, says many people are doing the same. “They don’t have any other job, they are poor people,” he said.
Desperate for better lives, some of Omrane Superieur’s residents are hopeful about Saied’s move.
“I salute the people who voted for him, he is a good person,” said Fakhreddine Wannas, 56, a resident. “I hope he can take us out of the dark and into the light.”
It echoes sentiment expressed by other Tunisians who are fed up with political bickering and want to see an improvement in the economy — which shrank by 8.8 percent last year — and more effective action against COVID-19.
Saied, who was elected in 2019, says he will not become a dictator and that the actions he took on July 25, including the 30-day suspension of parliament, were constitutional. He has yet to set out next steps.
Soumaya, who paints henna tattoos for a living, expressed relief about the situation, saying that for a long time Tunisians did not know where they were heading. “Now we are all happy,” said Soumaya, as she painted a child’s hand.