‘The worst is behind us’: Aramco CEO

Saudi Aramco President and CEO Amin Nasser, this year’s winner of the annual Chemists’ Club Kavaler award. (Supplied)
Saudi Aramco President and CEO Amin Nasser, this year’s winner of the annual Chemists’ Club Kavaler award. (Supplied)
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Updated 04 December 2020

‘The worst is behind us’: Aramco CEO

Saudi Aramco President and CEO Amin Nasser, this year’s winner of the annual Chemists’ Club Kavaler award. (Supplied)
  • Amin Nasser points to oil industry recovery after accepting prestigious chemists’ award

RIYADH: The oil industry is recovering from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and “the worst is behind us,” Saudi Aramco’s President and CEO, Amin Nasser, told an award ceremony in Riyadh on Thursday.

“April was by far the worst month for our industry when oil demand fell. Such a massive drop was never seen at any time in the industry. But I believe the worst is behind us. At this moment there is a recovery taking place,” Nasser said after he was announced as this year’s winner of the annual Chemists’ Club Kavaler award.

The award, which recognizes Nasser’s work in the petrochemical industry, was presented at a virtual event on Dec. 3 and included a discussion with the official about Aramco’s strategy, outlook and key industry trends.

Accepting the award, Nasser praised Saudi Aramco’s employees, saying he wanted to share the prestige with them.

“I am proud to accept this award on behalf of the thousands of men and women of Saudi Aramco who are showing great determination and resilience in a year that has been unlike any in our lifetime. This is definitely their award, too,” he said.

During the fireside chat, Nasser spoke about projects currently underway at Saudi Aramco.

“Despite COVID-19 and all its challenges, our work is going on at Aramco. We have continued to pursue our long-term strategy to be a bigger player in chemicals, to projects here in the Kingdom and around the world. In fact, the progress we have made is just the beginning of a major transformation positioning Aramco for the future,” he said.

In a statement ahead of the ceremony, Joseph Chang, global editor of the ICIS Chemical Business publication, praised Nasser for his achievements.

“Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser has made huge advances in petrochemicals with the $69 billion acquisition of SABIC, the construction of mega-projects worldwide and the development of crude oil-to-chemicals technology. The level of project activity for Aramco is unprecedented for any company. Its global ambitions and investments in petrochemicals will create waves in the industry for years to come,” he said.

The Chemists’ Club, a private organization in New York, offers memberships to research and industrial chemists working in all areas.

The Kavaler prize, presented for the first time to a recipient outside Europe and North America, was awarded for “outstanding achievement.”

Profitability, innovation, acquisition activity, and commitment to environmental and social issues are taken into consideration when choosing the recipient.

Voting is carried out by the recipient’s peers in the ICIS Top 40 Power Players, a global ranking of industry leaders making the greatest positive impact published in ICIS Chemical Business magazine.

Previous winners include LyondellBasell CEO Bob Patel, BASF CEO Kurt Bock, Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe, former Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, former LyondellBasell CEO Jim Gallogly, and former PPG CEO Charles Bunch.

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.