UK trade fair industry warns 30,000 jobs at risk

A pedestrian walks along the bank of the Thames in London. Britain’s Finance Ministry has spent more than £25 billion ($30.72 billion) on a furlough program that is supporting 9.3 million jobs. (AFP/File)
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Updated 14 July 2020

UK trade fair industry warns 30,000 jobs at risk

  • The threat of a second wave of COVID-19 cases triggered further uncertainty about reopening plans worldwide

LONDON: Around 30,000 jobs in Britain’s events industry are at risk due to increased uncertainty about when trade fairs and exhibitions could resume in the UK, an industry body representing event organizers, venues and suppliers warned on Monday.

The Events Industry Alliance (EIA) said companies would need at least eight to twelve weeks to restart exhibitions, calling on the government to set a date for reopening.

The coronavirus outbreak and the ensuing lockdown led to widespread cancelations and postponement of events to later this year or until 2021, while the threat of a second wave of COVID-19 cases triggered further uncertainty about reopening plans worldwide.

“Failure to provide a go-live date impacts the ability of almost 180,000 businesses to recover,” said Chris Skeith, CEO, Association of Event Organizers.

The world’s biggest exhibitions organizer Informa, which is based in London, held its first major event in Shanghai this month.

A spokesman for Informa said the company has seen countries, which make up the majority of its business, such as Germany, France, China, parts of the United States and Australia open for commercial gatherings.

“Nevertheless, the Group believes it is in everyone’s interests for the UK to catch up and give the green light to commercial gatherings too,” he added.

The exhibitions industry in the UK supports 114,000 jobs, according to the EIA.

An estimated 60 percent of the sector’s supply chain will not reopen in October, when the government’s job-supporting furlough scheme ends, the EIA added.

Britain’s Finance Ministry had said it spent more than £25 billion ($30.72 billion) on a furlough program that is supporting 9.3 million jobs. Earlier this month, it had promised another £30 billion to head off an unemployment crisis.


Saudi Arabia looks to cut spending in bid to shrink deficit

Updated 01 October 2020

Saudi Arabia looks to cut spending in bid to shrink deficit

  • Saudi Arabia has issued about SR84 billion in sukuk in the year to date

LONDON: Saudi Arabia plans to reduce spending next year by about 7.5 percent to SR990 billion ($263.9 billion) as it seeks to reduce its deficit. This compares to spending of SR1.07 trillion this year, it said in a preliminary budget statement.

The Kingdom anticipates a budget deficit of about 12 percent this year falling to 5.1 percent next year.

Saudi Arabia released data on Wednesday showing that the economy contracted by about 7 percent in the second quarter as regional economies faced the twin blow of the coronavirus pandemic and continued oil price weakness.

The unemployment rate among Saudis increased to 15.4 percent in the second quarter compared with 11.8 percent in the first quarter of the year.

The challenging headwinds facing regional economies is expected to spur activity across debt markets as countries sell bonds to help fund spending.

Saudi Arabia has already issued about SR84 billion in sukuk in the year to date.

“Over the past three years, the government has developed (from scratch) a well-functioning and increasingly deeper domestic sukuk market that has allowed it to tap into growing domestic and international demand for Shariah-compliant fixed income assets,” Moody’s said in a statement on Wednesday. 

“This, in turn, has helped diversify its funding sources compared with what was available during the oil price shock of 2015-16 and ease liquidity pressures amid a more than doubling of government financing needs this year,” the ratings agency added.