Group led by France’s Saur Group wins Saudi water project

The contract ceremony was signed in Riyadh on Thursday at a ceremony attended by His Excellency Abdulrahman Abdulmohsen A. AlFadley, Minister for the Environment, Water and Agriculture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ludovic Pouille, the French Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and Emmanuel Vivant, Senior Executive Vice-President International, Saur Group. (Supplied: Saur Group)
The contract ceremony was signed in Riyadh on Thursday at a ceremony attended by His Excellency Abdulrahman Abdulmohsen A. AlFadley, Minister for the Environment, Water and Agriculture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ludovic Pouille, the French Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and Emmanuel Vivant, Senior Executive Vice-President International, Saur Group. (Supplied: Saur Group)
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Updated 03 December 2020

Group led by France’s Saur Group wins Saudi water project

The contract ceremony was signed in Riyadh on Thursday at a ceremony attended by His Excellency Abdulrahman Abdulmohsen A. AlFadley, Minister for the Environment, Water and Agriculture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ludovic Pouille, the French Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and Emmanuel Vivant, Senior Executive Vice-President International, Saur Group. (Supplied: Saur Group)
  • The seven-year contract is the first as part of the Kingdom’s plan to privatize the sector, attract foreign investment

RIYADH: A consortium led by France’s Saur Group has been awarded the first contract under Saudi Arabia’s plans to privatize its water infrastructure sector.

The contract to manage the North West Cluster facility, which supplies the cities of Medina and Tabuk, is initially for seven years but could be extended to 25.

The consortium also includes Saudi Arabia’s Miahona and the Manila Water Company from the Philippines.

The contract was signed in Riyadh on Thursday at a ceremony attended by Abdulrahman Abdulmohsen A. AlFadley, Saudi Arabia's minister for the environment, water and agriculture, Ludovic Pouille, the French Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and Emmanuel Vivant, senior executive vice-president international, Saur Group.

This is the first contract to be awarded by the National Water Company (NWC), the government agency responsible for this flagship program, and is an integral part of the Vision 2030 program to open its economy to foreign investors.

The contract includes management of 15,000 km of water pipeline networks, 50 drinking water production plants, 10 wastewater treatment plants and 622 boreholes. The agreement will help improve the lives of 3.5 million people living in a service area, which includes the holy sites of Madinah and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of AlUla.


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.