US, China need to reverse course in trade row to help economy: OECD

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development forecast the United States would outpace other big developed economies with growth of 2.8 percent this year. (AFP)
Updated 21 May 2019

US, China need to reverse course in trade row to help economy: OECD

  • OECD: The global economy would grow by only 3.2 percent this year
  • China, which is not an OECD country, has been seeking to stimulate its economy

PARIS: Economic growth in China and the United States could be 0.2-0.3 percent lower on average by 2021 and 2022 if the two countries do not row back on tit-for-tat tariffs in their dispute that has dampened the global economic outlook, the OECD said on Tuesday.
US President Donald Trump has raised tariffs on $200 billion on Chinese imports to 25 percent from 10 percent in the long-running trade row, while Beijing said it would hit back by lifting tariffs on $60 billion in US goods.
The global economy would grow by only 3.2 percent this year as growth in trade flows is nearly halved this year to only 2.1 percent, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said in its biannual Economic Outlook.
That would be the slowest pace of global economic growth since 2016 and was down marginally from the Paris-based policy forum’s last forecast in March for growth of 3.3 percent.
The world economy should fare slightly better next year with a growth rate of 3.4 percent, but only if the United States and China pull back from tariff hikes announced this month.
The OECD said growth in China and the United States could come in 0.2-0.3 percent lower on average by 2021 and 2022 if the two nations did not reverse course.
Without taking the latest round of tariff increases into account, the OECD forecast the United States would outpace other big developed economies with growth of 2.8 percent this year, up from the 2.6 percent the organization had projected in March.
The world’s biggest economy was seen slowing to 2.3 percent next year even if the new tariff hikes are not carried through.
China, which is not an OECD country, has been seeking to stimulate its economy but growth was still seen easing from 6.2 percent this year to 6.0 percent in 2020, the lowest rate in 30 years for the world’s second-biggest economy.
Global investors are closely watching to see how much more support Beijing will inject to shore up growth after China already loosened monetary policy, cut taxes and allowed local governments to issue special bonds to fund infrastructure projects.
Japan’s export-dependent economy is suffering from the drop in trade flows with growth expected at only 0.7 percent in 2019 and 0.6 percent in 2020, trimmed from the OECD’s March forecasts of 0.8 percent and 0.7 percent respectively.
The euro zone is also paying a heavy price for the global trade slowdown, with its growth seen this year at 1.2 percent before rising to 1.4 percent year. That was slightly better than the 1.0 percent and 1.2 percent expected in March as Italy’s downturn proves slightly less severe than previously expected
Meanwhile, the OECD raised Britain’s growth forecast to 1.2 percent this year from 0.8 percent previously, as the prospect of its exit from the European Union was pushed back. UK growth is expected to fall to 1.0 percent, marginally better than the 0.9 percent expected in March.


STC postpones its acquisition of Vodafone Egypt for second time

Updated 13 July 2020

STC postpones its acquisition of Vodafone Egypt for second time

  • Kingdom’s largest telecom company says it will need an additional two months to complete the deal

CAIRO: The Saudi Telecom Company (STC), the Kingdom’s largest telecom company, said that it will need an additional two months to complete a deal to purchase a 55 percent stake in Vodafone Egypt.

In January, STC was in agreement to buy the stake for $2.4 billion. In April, it extended the process for 90 days due to logistical challenges stemming from the spread of COVD-19. The company said in a statement that it would extend the period again to September for the same reason.

The Public Investment Fund, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, owns a majority stake in STC. The ownership of Vodafone Egypt is divided between 55 percent for Vodafone International, which is the target percentage of the Saudi purchase offer, 44.8 percent for Telecom Egypt, and the remaining 0.2 percent for small shareholders.

Telecom Egypt is awaiting the results of Vodafone’s evaluation of the final share price to announce its position on the deal. A Telecom Egypt official stated that the company is still awaiting STC’s position regarding the purchase of the share. If the deal is not completed, it may be presented with its rights to acquire Vodafone’s share, which would allow it to take over 99.8 percent of the company’s shares, leaving 0.2 percent for small investors.

Ashraf El-Wardany, an Egyptian communications expert, pointed out the importance of waiting until the procedures between STC and the Vodafone Group are complete. The results will determine the next steps by Telecom Egypt.

El-Wardany said that the Saudi operator must, after completing the relevant studies, submit a final binding offer at the share price and any conditions for purchase. If approved by Vodafone, it must submit the offer with the same conditions and price to Telecom Egypt, provided that the latter responds within a maximum period of 45 days to determine its position regarding the use of the right of pre-emption and the purchase, or lack thereof, of Vodafone’s share.

According to El-Wardany, there are other possible scenarios. Vodafone International may not be convinced of the offer or the conditions presented by the Saudi side and the sale may be withdrawn, or the Vodafone group may be ready to sell and has prepared another buyer for its stake in Egypt in the event of rejecting the Saudi offer. It may also it back away from the deal and continue to operate in Egypt for a few more years.

El-Wardany said that if Telecom Egypt decides not to use the right of pre-emption to acquire the remaining Vodafone shares for any reason, it will continue with its 44.8 percent stake.
It may also resort to selling all of its shares or part of it to the Saudi side or to any company that wants to acquire its stake.

“This raises the question of whether STC can acquire all of Vodafone’s shares,” El-Wardany said, adding that the coming months “will make the answer clear.”