Riyadh Future Investment Initiative summit on schedule for next week

The Future Investment Initiative will be held in Riyadh from Oct. 23 to 25. (Future Investment Initiative website)
Updated 22 October 2018

Riyadh Future Investment Initiative summit on schedule for next week

  • Future Investment Initiative to go ahead despite ‘disappointing’ withdrawals.
  • It will be held in Riyadh from Oct. 23 to 25.

RIYADH: Officials and business leaders including US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon are set to attend an investment summit in Saudi Arabia next week.
The Future Investment Initiative (FII) is going ahead despite the “disappointing” withdrawal of some speakers and partners.
It will be held in Riyadh from Oct. 23 to 25.
“Despite the disappointing withdrawal of some speakers and partners, we look forward to welcoming thousands of speakers, session managers and guests from around the world,” an FII spokesman said in a statement quoted by Asharq Al-Awsat.
An earlier statement gave an overview of the event, saying that “investing in transformation,” “technology as opportunity” and “advancing human potential” are among the FII’s broad themes.
Mohammed Khunaizi, a Shoura Council member, said that government and business leaders will map out a “collective vision for future” at the event.
“The FII conference has emerged as the largest investment event of its kind in the Middle East, which offers opportunities for billions of dollars in business deals besides being an educative forum,” he said.
JPMorgan chief Dimon has been quoted in media reports as saying: “I am looking forward to attending the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh to discuss innovation in technology and what it means to all of us.”
Sami A. Al-Rajhi, a Saudi business executive, said: “The FII seeks to further explore how investment will drive growth opportunities regionally and globally.
“The event will help to bring many business opportunities to the country in particular and to the Middle East in general, which will support job creation, innovation and unlock economic opportunities.”


US trade offensive takes out WTO as global arbiter

Updated 10 December 2019

US trade offensive takes out WTO as global arbiter

  • Two years after starting to block appointments, the US will finally paralyze the WTO’s Appellate Body
  • Two of three members of Appellate Body exit and leave it unable to issue rulings

BRUSSELS: US disruption of the global economic order reaches a major milestone on Tuesday as the World Trade Organization (WTO) loses its ability to intervene in trade wars, threatening the future of the Geneva-based body.
Two years after starting to block appointments, the United States will finally paralyze the WTO’s Appellate Body, which acts as the supreme court for international trade, as two of three members exit and leave it unable to issue rulings.
Major trade disputes, including the US conflict with China and metal tariffs imposed by US President Donald Trump, will not be resolved by the global trade arbiter.
Stephen Vaughn, who served as general counsel to the US Trade Representative during Trump’s first two years, said many disputes would be settled in future by negotiations.
Critics say this means a return to a post-war period of inconsistent settlements, problems the WTO’s creation in 1995 was designed to fix.
The EU ambassador to the WTO told counterparts in Geneva on Monday the Appellate Body’s paralysis risked creating a system of economic relations based on power rather than rules.
The crippling of dispute settlement comes as the WTO also struggles in its other major role of opening markets.
The WTO club of 164 has not produced any international accord since abandoning “Doha Round” negotiations in 2015.
Trade-restrictive measures among the G20 group of largest economies are at historic highs, compounded by Trump’s “America First” agenda and the trade war with China.
Phil Hogan, the European Union’s new trade commissioner, said on Friday the WTO was no longer fit for purpose and in dire need of reforms going beyond just fixing the appeals mechanism.
For developed countries, in particular, the WTO’s rules must change to take account of state-controlled enterprises.
In 2017, Japan brought together the United States and the European Union in a joint bid to set new global rules on state subsidies and forced technology transfers.
The US is also pushing to limit the ability of WTO members to grant themselves developing status, which for example gives them longer to implement WTO agreements.
Such “developing countries” include Singapore and Israel, but China is the clear focus.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Reuters last week the United States wanted to end concessions given to then struggling economies that were no longer appropriate.
“We’ve been spoiling countries for a very, very long time, so naturally they’re pushing back as we try to change things,” he said.
The trouble with WTO reform is that changes require consensus to pass. That includes Chinese backing.
Beijing has published its own reform proposals with a string of grievances against US actions. Reform should resolve crucial issues threatening the WTO’s existence, while preserving the interests of developing countries.
Many observers believe the WTO faces a pivotal moment in mid-2020 when its trade ministers gather in a drive to push through a multinational deal — on cutting fishing subsidies.
“It’s not the WTO that will save the fish. It’s the fish that are going to save the WTO,” said one ambassador.