Qatar FM: Sovereign fund could invest in Saudi Arabia as tensions ease

Qatar FM: Sovereign fund could invest in Saudi Arabia as tensions ease
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund could invest in Saudi Arabia as diplomatic tensions ease. (File/SPA)
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Updated 10 January 2021

Qatar FM: Sovereign fund could invest in Saudi Arabia as tensions ease

Qatar FM: Sovereign fund could invest in Saudi Arabia as tensions ease
  • The minister said that Doha had agreed to suspend legal cases against Saudi Arabia and its allies
  • He said that through the easing of tensions in the region, “every state is a winner”

DUBAI: Qatar’s foreign minister has said that the country’s sovereign wealth fund could invest in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states as diplomatic tensions ease following the AlUla agreement.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, who is also chairman of the Qatar Investment Authority, told the Financial Times that “if there are opportunities that we see in the future and we see a continuation of the political will of the countries to engage, we are very open.”
He added: “The Qatar Investment Authority is an investment fund that takes its decisions based on business benefit and the feasibility of projects. I am sure that we saw some ambitious opportunities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and if we see opportunities there, the Qatar Investment Authority will certainly explore them.”
The Kingdom is keen to attract foreign investment backing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious plans to modernize the Saudi economy and overhaul its dependency on oil.
The minister said that Doha had agreed to suspend legal cases against Saudi Arabia and its allies, including lawsuits filed at the World Trade Organization and the International Court of Justice. “When it comes to the appropriate schedule, these legal cases should then be terminated,” he added.
He said that through the easing of tensions in the region, “every state is a winner.”
However, the minister warned that Qatar “will not change relations” with Iran and Turkey, in a sign that it has made few concessions after securing a deal with Saudi Arabia and its allies to end a bitter dispute between the rival Gulf states.
“Doha had agreed to cooperate on fighting against terrorism and transnational security with Saudi Arabia and three states that had imposed an embargo on Qatar,” he said, adding that “bilateral relationships are mainly driven by a sovereign decision of the country and national interest.
“That is why there is no effect on our relationship with any other country.” he said.
“We hope that things take the steps to come back to normal within a week from the signing.
“It will take some steps among the countries to rebuild the relationship. There will be differences and some pending issues that will be discussed bilaterally between the countries, as each country has a different set of disagreements with Qatar,” the minister added.


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.