G20 summit officially opens in Japan’s Osaka

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe opened the meeting. (AFP)
Updated 28 June 2019

G20 summit officially opens in Japan’s Osaka

  • The first session of the meeting is focused on the digital economy
  • The summit will be dominated by contentious discussions on trade, geopolitical tensions, and climate change

OSAKA: Leaders of the Group of 20 opened a high-stakes summit in Japan’s Osaka Friday that is expected to be one of the most fractious in years.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe opened the meeting, which will be dominated by contentious discussions on trade, geopolitical tensions, and climate change.
But the mood appeared friendly in the opening minutes, with smiles on the faces of the arriving leaders as they posed for the traditional “family photograph.”
US President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping, whose countries are mired in a damaging trade war, exchanged a handshake before the photo.
And as the leaders headed into the first session, French President Emmanuel Macron leaned down to whisper something into Trump’s ear, covering his mouth for privacy as he did so.
The first session of the meeting is focused on the digital economy, with concerns about privacy and security on the agenda.
“Digitalization has rapidly changed various aspects of our society and economy,” Abe said as he opened the session.
“I’m happy to see the momentum to globally tackle the digital economy.”
But in a sign of the ongoing tensions likely to dominate talks, Trump appeared to make reference to US concerns about the security threat posed by Chinese telecoms firm Huawei.
As “we expand digital trade, we must also ensure the resilience and security of our 5G networks,” he said.
Trump’s administration has taken measures to ban Huawei, with China reportedly seeking an end to the restrictions as part of any resumption of talks on resolving the trade war.
The summit is being overshadowed by the trade war between the world’s top two economies, with hopes that Xi and Trump can reach a truce when they hold talks on Saturday on the sidelines of the summit.


Bank jobs go as HSBC and Emirates NBD reduce costs

Updated 15 November 2019

Bank jobs go as HSBC and Emirates NBD reduce costs

  • Others have also reduced headcount amid economic downturn and property market weakness

DUBAI: HSBC Holdings has laid off about 40 bankers in the UAE and Emirates NBD is cutting around 100 jobs, as banks in the Arab world’s second-biggest economy reduce costs.

The cuts come amid weak economic growth, especially in Dubai, which is suffering from a property downturn.

HSBC’s redundancies came after the London-based bank reported a sharp fall in earnings and warned of a costly restructuring, as interim CEO Noel Quinn seeks to tackle its problems head-on.

HSBC has about 3,000 staff in the UAE, part of a nearly 10,000-strong workforce in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.

The cuts at Dubai’s largest lender Emirates NBD came in consumer sales and liabilities, one source said, while a second played down the significance of the move.

HSBC and Emirates NBD declined to comment.

“The cuts are part of cost cutting and rationalizing to drive efficiencies in a challenging market,” the second source said.

Other banks have also reduced staff this year. UAE central bank data shows local banks laid off 446 people in the 12 months until the end of September. Foreign banks added staff in the same period.

Staff at local banks account for over 80 percent of the 35,518 banking employees in the country.

The merger between Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Union Commercial Bank and Al Hilal Bank saw hundreds of redundancies.

Commercial Bank International (CBI) said it would offer voluntary retirement to employees in September, which sources said saw over 100 departures. Standard Chartered, too, cut over 100 jobs in the UAE in September.

Rating agency Fitch warned in September a weakening property market would put more pressure on the UAE’s banking sector.