Abu Dhabi fund suspends debt service repayments for countries, companies

Abu Dhabi fund suspends debt service repayments for countries, companies
Abu Dhabi Fund for Development said debt service repayments would be suspended for eligible countries and individual companies from Jan. 1 until Dec. 31. (AFP file photo)
Short Url
Updated 13 July 2020

Abu Dhabi fund suspends debt service repayments for countries, companies

Abu Dhabi fund suspends debt service repayments for countries, companies
  • Debt service repayments would be suspended for eligible countries and individual companies from Jan. 1 until Dec. 31

ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has suspended debt service repayments for some countries and companies for the year, the state-financed fund said on Sunday.

The fund provides financial assistance to companies in the UAE and to developing countries, which has included Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

Debt service repayments would be suspended for eligible countries and individual companies in the developing world from Jan. 1 until Dec. 31, the fund said in a statement. Countries and companies would need to request to have repayments suspended, it said.

The fund did not say what the criteria would need to be met to be eligible for the scheme.

“At a time when the world is reeling under the effect of the pandemic ... it is imperative for us to support particularly those that need it most, especially the low-income countries,” the fund’s director general Mohammed Saif Al-Suwaidi, said. 

Sectors such as banking and aviation in the UAE are facing a tough time due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a report, Emirates airline has cut a tenth of its workforce in layoffs that could rise to 15 percent, or 9,000 jobs, its president said.

The Middle East’s largest carrier, which operates a fleet of 270 wide-bodied aircraft, halted operations in late March as part of global shutdowns to stem the spread of the virus.

It resumed two weeks later on a limited network and plans to fly to 58 cities by mid-August, down from about 157 before the crisis.

However, its president Tim Clark has said previously that it could take up to four years for operations to return to “some degree of normality,” and the airline has been staging rounds of layoffs, as recently as last week, without disclosing numbers.

Before the crisis hit, Emirates employed some 60,000 staff, including 4,300 pilots and nearly 22,000 cabin crew, according to its annual report.

Clark said in an interview with the BBC that the airline had already cut a tenth of its staff and that Emirates “will probably have to let go of a few more, probably up to 15 percent.”

A company spokeswoman told AFP the airline had nothing to add to the report.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that airlines are in line to make a combined net loss of more than $84 billion this year in the wake of the pandemic crisis, the biggest in the industry’s history.

Clark said in the interview that Emirates was “not as badly off as others” but that the crisis hit just as it was “heading for one of our best years ever.”

The Dubai-based airline had reported a bumper 21 percent rise in annual profits in March.


France wants end to US-Europe trade spat

France wants end to US-Europe trade spat
Updated 17 January 2021

France wants end to US-Europe trade spat

France wants end to US-Europe trade spat
  • All eyes on President-elect Biden to resolve disputes between partners

PARIS: The EU and the incoming administration of US President-elect Joe Biden should suspend a trade dispute to give themselves time to find common ground, France’s foreign minister said in remarks published on Sunday.

“The issue that’s poisoning everyone is that of the price escalation and taxes on steel, digital technology and Airbus,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told Le Journal du Dimanche in an interview.

He said he hoped the sides could find a way to settle the dispute. “It may take time, but in the meantime, we can always order a moratorium,” he added.

At the end of December the US moved to boost tariffs on French and German aircraft parts in the Boeing-Airbus subsidy dispute, but the bloc decided to hold off on retaliation for now.

The EU is planning to present a World Trade Organization (WTO) reform proposal in February and is willing to consider reforms to restrain the judicial authority of the WTO’s dispute-settlement body.

The US has for years complained that the WTO Appellate Body makes unjustified new trade rules in its decisions and has blocked the appointment of new judges to stop this, rendering the body inoperable.

The Trump administration, which leaves office on Wednesday, had threatened to impose tariffs on French cosmetics, handbags and other goods in retaliation for France’s digital services tax, which it said discriminated against US tech firms.

Overturning decades of free trade consensus was a central part of Trump’s “America First” agenda. In 2018, declaring that “trade wars are good, and easy to win,” he shocked allies by imposing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from most of the world.

While Trump later dropped tariffs against Australia, Japan, Brazil and South Korea in return for concessions, he kept them in place against more than $7 billion worth of EU metal. The bloc retaliated with tariffs on more than $3 billion worth of US goods, from orange juice and blue jeans to Harley Davidson bikes, and took its case to the WTO.

While Biden promises to be more predictable than Trump, he is not expected to lift the steel tariffs immediately. Even if he wants to, he could run into reluctance from producers in “rust belt” states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania that secured his election win.

Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, director of trade think tank ECIPE, said the US was unlikely to award Europe a “free pass,” noting that countries that had offered concessions to have their tariffs lifted could complain if Europe won better treatment.

Resolving future trade disputes could become easier, if Biden reverses Trump policy that paralyzed the WTO by blocking the appointment of judges to its appellate body.