Global trade experts gather in Riyadh as virus crisis heats up

A poster on a Barcelona street by Italian urban artist Salvatore Benintende shows Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa wearing a protective facemask. (AFP)
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Updated 24 February 2020

Global trade experts gather in Riyadh as virus crisis heats up

  • More than 1,000 international companies set up operations in Saudi Arabia last year

RIYADH: World trade experts are gathering in Riyadh for a major conference as the coronavirus crisis casts a shadow over global commerce.

The Asia House Trade Dialogue takes place on Tuesday in the Saudi Arabian capital, with thought leaders and policymakers taking part in the first such event to be staged in the Kingdom. Around 200 delegates are expected to attend the one-day forum.

Leading thinkers will share their insights on global trade, women’s growing role in business, and the energy industry moving toward renewable technologies. There will also be a live link with a Beijing-based expert on Chinese business to discuss the economic effects of the virus.

Asia House is a London-based consultancy which is headed by the former British trade minister and chairman of the HSBC banking group, Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint. He said: “With Saudi Arabia hosting the G20 this year, we believe it is an important time to bring our trade dialogue to Riyadh to explore the economic shifts taking place in the region and beyond.”

The event is sponsored by the Saudi British Bank, whose chair Lubna Olayan will deliver the keynote speech.

She said: “Trade has historically always been important to the development of the Kingdom, and that is equally true today as the Far East and the Middle East are once again becoming increasingly connected, and we begin a year in which Saudi Arabia leads the G20, with deliberations around trade and investment being a major focus of the B20 (the business arm of G20 summit of world leaders). It is truly an exciting time, so we are pleased to be jointly hosting this important event to explore opportunities for enhancing and facilitating growing trade links between the Far East and the Middle East.”

The conference will be opened by Ibrahim Al-Omar, the governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, the body which promotes foreign investment in the Kingdom. Arab News is the strategic media partner for the event.

Lord Green said: “The Middle East remains an extremely important region for global trade, especially as the Gulf broadens its relationships with Asian markets. Just last year, more than 1,000 international companies set up new operations in Saudi Arabia, highlighting business interest in the Kingdom.”

Victor Gao, who is vice president of the Beijing-based Center for China and Globalization, will answer questions via web link about the impact of coronavirus on the Chinese economy.

Saudi Arabia launched its G20 presidency last December with a declaration of its program, which seeks to support innovation, achieve prosperity, empower people and preserve the planet, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan.

King Salman hailed the G20 presidency as proof of the country’s key role in the global economy.


Emirates Skycargo deploys capacity to supply food, medicines in UAE

Updated 53 min 54 sec ago

Emirates Skycargo deploys capacity to supply food, medicines in UAE

  • The UAE imports 90 percent of its food
  • The cargo organization said it transported between mid-January and mid-March more than 225,000 tons of cargo

DUBAI: Emirates Skycargo said on Wednesday that it deploys capacity to supply and replenish food and medicines in the UAE, as rulers role out strategies to sustain the country amid the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters news agency reported.

The national cargo organization said it transported between mid-January and mid-March more than 225,000 tons of cargo in total out of which 55,000 tons were food items including fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood, and more than 13,000 tons were pharmaceutical. 

Since the UAE imports 90 percent of its food, food security is a top priority. The annual food security costs of the country is $3.53 billion annually.

Earlier this week the UAE announced a strategic food security law that ensures adequate and uninterrupted food supplies through wholesalers and retailers across the UAE at all times, Khaleej Times reported. 

The law seeks to regulate the strategic stock of food commodities in the country in the event of crises, emergencies and disasters and offers incentives and facilities to registered providers and merchants.