Saudi June imports fall 8.2%

Saudi June imports fall 8.2%
Updated 24 August 2014

Saudi June imports fall 8.2%

Saudi June imports fall 8.2%

Saudi Arabia’s imports fell an annual 8.2 percent in June, the eighth drop in a row, while nonoil exports rose 14.9 percent, data from the Central Department of Statistics and Information showed.
Nonoil exports account for around 12 percent of overall exports of Saudi Arabia.
Analysts polled by Reuters in April forecast a Saudi Arabian current account surplus of 16.6 percent of gross domestic product in 2014 and 11.9 percent in 2015.
Saudi Arabia does not release complete trade data on a monthly basis. Trade data are often revised by the statistics office.
Percentage changes are Reuters calculations based on the official data.
In a recent, Jadwa Investment projected a current account surplus of $133 billion (16.9 percent of GDP).
Latest trade data have shown a moderate growth in nonoil exports,
According to a research report from National Commercial Bank, the domestic economy imported goods worth SR51.5 billion, an annual 8.2 percent decline during June.
Imports by weight recorded a drastic drop of 20.9 percent annually, declining from 7.1 million tons in June 2013 to 5.6 million tons 12 months later, said the report.
Over a quarter of Saudi imports consist of machinery and mechanical equipment at SR13.2 billion, dropping by 10.0 percent Y/Y in June, said the report.
Additionally, transport equipment imports’ total value declined by 15.6 percent annually.
As the Saudi economy is heavily reliant on imports for consumer goods, imported inflation influences local prices to a considerable degree. Imports from the European Union represented 27.8% of the total import bill during June, SR14.4 billion.
Consequently, the recent strength of the US dollar will positively impact Saudi Arabia’s trade balance and reduce pressures on local consumer prices.
China has recently overturned the US as the top source of Saudi imports. Their consistent growth over the past decade provided a competitive alternative for cheaper goods as they have the edge over advanced economies with regards to costs.
Saudi Imported SR7.5 billion worth of goods from China while SR6.0 billion came from the US in June.


Miners seek gold under the desert sands after Egypt changes rules

Miners seek gold under the desert sands after Egypt changes rules
Updated 1 min 9 sec ago

Miners seek gold under the desert sands after Egypt changes rules

Miners seek gold under the desert sands after Egypt changes rules
CAIRO: Mining companies awarded blocks in Egypt’s Eastern Desert are set to start exploring for gold under a legislative overhaul that seeks eventually to unlock vast untapped mineral resources.
Despite plentiful reserves and a rich mining history that gave rise to elaborate Pharaonic gold jewelry, Egypt has just one commercial gold mine in operation. Foreign investment in oil and gas has grown, but mining has languished.
Now, the country is banking on high gold prices and amended mining laws that scrap red tape and a profit-sharing rule, unpopular in the industry, to lure interest.
One year after launching its first bid round under the new rules, it has so far clinched five gold exploration contracts in a first bidding round and kept the tendering system rolling as it tries to build momentum.
The government is looking to attract $1 billion in annual investments in mining, a target industry sources say could be within reach.
“Success is ultimately going to be measured by how many mines are going to be discovered and advanced to production,” said Patrick Barnes, Head of Metals & Mining Consulting EMEARC at Wood Mackenzie, which advised Egypt’s government on its mining law reforms.
“Early indicators show us that this bid round was much better than the ones held previously.”
In its initial tender, Egypt in November awarded 82 exploration blocks to what metals analysts say is a healthy mix of 11 companies, ranging from junior explorers to industry giants such as Barrick Gold.
The blocks on offer are in the Arabian-Nubian shield geological formation, which flanks the Red Sea and is believed to be one of the most mineral rich areas in the world.
Egypt’s mining drive is still at an early stage.
UK-based Altus Strategies told Reuters it was looking to build up its technical team and conduct remote sensing and mapping operations on the 1,500 square kilometers of land it has been awarded before starting exploration.
It expects to invest several million dollars in the short term but that could rise above $100-$200 million if a economic discovery is made.
A spokeswoman for Canada-based B2Gold, which also won concessions, said the company was looking forward to starting exploration soon “given the relative under-investment in modern exploration, and therefore untapped potential in the historically prospective Arabian-Nubian Shield.”
Mining firms welcomed the elimination of a requirement to form joint ventures with the Egyptian government, and the capping of state royalties at 20%.
However, the retention of a tendering process for exploration blocks limits the chances of any gold boom, said Sami El Raghy, Chairman of Australia-based Nordana Pty Ltd.
“No other successful mining countries use this process. They all have a clear transparent mining laws stipulating the qualification, obligations and the rights of investors. (They) work on the principle first come, first served,” said El Raghy, who was also a founder of Egypt’s first and only commercial gold mine, Sukari.
The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources declined to comment.
On average, a mining project goes from discovery to production in 10-15 years. While gold prices have eased after reaching a record in 2020, economists expect they will remain high by historical standards over coming years.
“If you get to a point where several discoveries are made, Egypt could be one of the largest gold producers in Africa ... It had top-tier potential,” said Steven Poulton, CEO of Altus Strategies.
Environmental campaigners, however, say there is no justification for gold mining. It generates emissions, can add to water-stress and in contrast to copper and battery minerals is not in demand from technologies that can bring about a low carbon economy.
The government has said it is open to other minerals, but gold is the focus for now.
“Gold is absolutely the best thing for them to start with, because there’s a known amount of it,” said Wood Mackenzie’s Barnes.
“Egypt has immense potential for mining copper and gold and other commodities. The biggest concern in the industry is lack of supply for copper, places like Egypt which are considered under explored and high potential are going to get a lot of attention if they can maintain investment conditions,” he added.

Dubai denies rumors it issued gambling licenses

Dubai denies rumors it issued gambling licenses
Updated 26 min 4 sec ago

Dubai denies rumors it issued gambling licenses

Dubai denies rumors it issued gambling licenses
  • Dubai issues statement through its Twitter account
  • Rumors claimed gambling would begin in Dubai during Eid

RIYADH: Dubai denied social media reports that the emirate has issued gambling licenses to some hotels.

“What was circulated on some social media platforms about issuing permits for some establishments in Dubai to engage in gambling activity are just unfounded rumors,” the Dubai Government Media Office said on its Twitter account on Thursday.

The statement was issued in response to rumors that several hotels in Dubai had obtained permits for gambling and would begin offering it on Eid Al-Fitr.

Under UAE law, gambling or any activity thing that disturbs the public morals can be punished by imprisonment and fines ranging from 250,000 dirhams to 500,000 dirhams.


Egypt allows banks to issue electronic money units

Egypt allows banks to issue electronic money units
Updated 23 April 2021

Egypt allows banks to issue electronic money units

Egypt allows banks to issue electronic money units

CAIRO: The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has allowed lenders in the country to issue electronic money units.
However, only banks supervised by the CBE will be permitted to issue such units and approval must be gained in advance.
“This system monitors the payment orders of electronic money units and the issuance of detailed ‘Trail Audit’ reports on payment orders, while linking operations with system users and service providers,” the CBE said in a statement.
The central bank said that any systems issuing electronic money units that are unable to issue reports correctly — whether intentionally or unintentionally — will be considered to be in breach of CBE rules.
Electronic money units cannot be issued unless the equivalent cash amount in Egyptian pounds is deposited with the issuing bank, it added.


British shoppers rush back to reopened stores

British shoppers rush back to reopened stores
Updated 23 April 2021

British shoppers rush back to reopened stores

British shoppers rush back to reopened stores

LONDON: English and Welsh shoppers rushed back to clothes and furniture stores last week when they reopened after three months of COVID lockdown restrictions, but the novelty of dining and drinking outside rapidly faded.
The Office for National Statistics said credit and debit purchases of clothes and furniture jumped to 89 percent of pre-pandemic levels in the week to April 15, up by 26 percentage points on a week earlier.
The figures are based on high-value CHAPS payment data from credit and debit card processors collected by the Bank of England.
This data shows overall card spending rose to 91 percent of its level in February 2020 last week, up from 83 percent the week before when the Easter holiday weekend had reduced spending.
The number of shoppers in the week to April 17 rose to 75 percent of its level two years earlier, up by 31 percentage points on the previous week, and the volume of job adverts held at pre-pandemic levels.
Nonessential retailers in England and Wales reopened on April 12 for the first time since early January, and English pubs and restaurants were allowed to begin serving customers who booked outdoor seating.
The first day of opening brought a rush of diners and drinkers, but the appeal of eating and drinking outdoors in dry but cold weather had faded by the weekend.
Reservations on April 17 stood at 60 percent of their average level two years ago, down from 79 percent on April 12, according to data from booking website OpenTable produced for the ONS.


Strong coffee sales gives Nestle first quarter boost

Strong coffee sales gives Nestle first quarter boost
Updated 23 April 2021

Strong coffee sales gives Nestle first quarter boost

Strong coffee sales gives Nestle first quarter boost

ZURICH: Swiss food giant Nestle said Thursday that strong coffee sales helped raise overall turnover by 1.3 percent in the first quarter of the year.
Global sales rose to 21.1 billion Swiss francs (19.1 billion euros, $22.9 billion), an earnings statement said.
Nestle’s measure of so-called organic growth, which strips out effects from acquisitions, divestments and foreign exchange movements, jumped by 7.7 percent in the first three months of 2021, as the group increased its share of growing markets, the statement added.
But the Swiss franc’s strength against other major currencies meant that once global sales were converted, the overall figure was reduced by 5.3 percent, while various divestments trimmed an additional 1.0 percent, the statement said.
Nestle is transforming its portfolio of brands and has begun to increase its offer of vegetarian products to accompany a global trend, for example.
And while “coffee was the largest contributor to growth” owing to strong demand for its Nespresso, Nescafe and Starbucks brands, dairy products and pet food also contributed to the increase in organic growth.
“Vegetarian and plant-based food offerings continued to see strong double-digit growth” as well, the group noted.
Nestle has benefited from the coronavirus pandemic in that demand via supermarkets remained strong, but sales to restaurants and other food outlets suffered in 2020.
In the first months of this year, “retail sales saw solid growth and out-of-home channels saw signs of improvement,” Nestle chief executive Mark Schneider said in the company statement.
The group confirmed its 2021 full-year forecast for “sustained mid-single digit organic growth,” which suggests something on the order of 5 percent.