Asia to dominate Davos virtual forum as virus-hit West struggles

Asia to dominate Davos virtual forum as virus-hit West struggles
The 2020 WEF, which took place in its usual Swiss Alpine resort of Davos, saw the global elite just starting to worry about a pandemic that surfaced in China a month earlier. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 23 January 2021

Asia to dominate Davos virtual forum as virus-hit West struggles

Asia to dominate Davos virtual forum as virus-hit West struggles
  • Spotlight will be on Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will give a speech on Monday — the opening day of the event

PARIS: Emerging stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic, Asia is set to dominate this year’s virtual World Economic Forum as a virus-battered West struggles and a new US president faces particularly daunting challenges.

The 2020 WEF, which took place in its usual Swiss Alpine resort of Davos, saw the global elite just starting to worry about a pandemic that surfaced in China a month earlier.
While the coronavirus leaves a mounting death toll and upends economies, depriving millions of people of work, China and Asian countries in 2021 are making a strong comeback from the virus that hit them first.
In virtual format because of the pandemic, next week’s event is headlined: “A Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust.”
The spotlight will be on Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will give a speech on Monday, the opening day of the event that will last through next Friday.
The big names from Europe will be German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who heads the EU executive.
US President Joe Biden will not appear at the virtual Davos, which has never been a fixture on the White House calendar — even if the new administration has pledged to revive a US multilateral foreign policy after four years of Donald Trump’s America First approach.
Trump had been an exception as he stopped in Davos twice, with the real estate billionaire enjoying mixing with the global business elite.
Before him, Bill Clinton was the only American president who had traveled to Davos, and that was just once.
Showing up from Asia are China’s and South Korea’s presidents as well as the prime ministers of India and Japan.
Following the first virtual session, Davos will move in May to Singapore, far from the luxury Swiss ski resort where it has taken place since it was launched in 1971, the brainchild of German professor Klaus Schwab.
The stated reason for the changes is health safety.

FASTFACT

The big names from Europe will be German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who heads the EU executive.

But a virtual forum is not particularly attractive for the world’s well-heeled movers and shakers, who value huddles behind closed doors in fancy hotels over meetings in formal settings.
French insurance-credit group Euler Hermes said in a study this month that the “world’s economic center of gravity” (WECG) has been moving toward Asia since 2002.
“The COVID-19 crisis could accelerate the shifting global balance toward Asia,” it added.
“By 2030, we forecast the WECG, could be located around the confluence of China, India and Pakistan,” the study projected.
The speech by Xi, who addressed Davos back in 2017, seems almost to set the clock back, as if the business world seeks to erase the Trump era.
Four years ago, he presented himself as the champion of free trade, much to the joy of Davos participants who feared the newly elected Trump’s protectionist moves.
Biden is nevertheless sending John Kerry, the special climate envoy who will be welcomed after the new Democratic president has brought Washington back into the Paris climate accord.
The agenda includes workshops titled: “Stakeholder Capitalism: Building the Future” as well as “Advancing a New Social Contract” and “Resetting Consumption for a Sustainable Future.”
In a column published in mid-January, Schwab said 2021 could be a positive and historic year, 75 years after the original “Year Zero” following the devastation of World War II.
“We once again have a chance to rebuild,” he said, calling for rethinking capitalism in the light of a pandemic that has worsened inequality.
He said “COVID-19 has delivered the final blow” to the post-war model where free markets and limited government produced prosperity and progress that now is “no longer sustainable, environmentally or socially.”


Price of oil surges past $80-a-barrel landmark

Price of oil surges past $80-a-barrel landmark
Updated 11 sec ago

Price of oil surges past $80-a-barrel landmark

Price of oil surges past $80-a-barrel landmark
  • OPEC urges investment in production

DUBAI: The price of oil surged above $80 a barrel on Tuesday amid soaring demand from global economies and increasingly tight supply.
Brent crude, the global benchmark, jumped past the psychologically significant landmark for the first time in three years, after five days of rising prices.
Oil analysts believe the surge could have a long way to go. Christyan Malek, head of oil and gas at US bank JP Morgan, told Arab News: “The bull case suggests that oil could hit more than $100 a barrel by 2023, though it could reach that level within the next six to 12 months.”
Another US banking giant, Goldman Sachs, this week forecast a price of $90 a barrel for Brent by the end of this year.
Oil has risen in price by more than 90 percent over the past year as the output strategy of OPEC+ — the oil alliance led by Saudi Arabia and Russia — drained the global oil glut that depressed prices in 2020.
Global crude inventories that ballooned during the pandemic have shrunk to their lowest levels since January 2020 as the biggest oil consumers, the US and China, fuel their recovery.
Several other factors are also behind the recent run. Robin Mills, chief executive of consultancy Qamar Energy, said it was down to “gas shortages and revived demand colliding with US hurricanes and maintenance delays.”
Adding to the upward pressure on prices, oil demand will grow sharply in the next few years as economies recover from the pandemic, OPEC forecast in its World Oil Outlook published on Tuesday.
“Energy and oil demand have picked up significantly in 2021 after the massive drop in 2020,” OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said. “Continued expansion is forecast for the longer term.”
Oil use will rise by 1.7 million barrels per day in 2023 to 101.6 million bpd, OPEC said, adding to robust growth already predicted for 2021 and 2022, and pushing demand back above the pre-pandemic 2019 rate.
The organization said the world must continue investing in oil production to avert an energy shortage, despite the transition to renewables. Upstream oil capital spending dropped by nearly 30 percent to about $240 billion last year because of the pandemic.
“It is clear that underinvestment remains one of the great challenges for the oil industry,” Barkindo said. “Without the necessary investments, there is the potential for further volatility and a future energy shortfall.”
Nevertheless, OPEC is upbeat about its prospects. “Oil is still expected to retain its No. 1 position in the energy mix,” Barkindo said.


Saudi stock market continues upward momentum

Saudi stock market continues upward momentum
Updated 56 min 59 sec ago

Saudi stock market continues upward momentum

Saudi stock market continues upward momentum

RIYADH: The Saudi stock market ended Tuesday’s session in the green zone for the third consecutive session, amid broad gains for Saudi Aramco shares, which coincided with oil prices recording their highest levels since October 2018.

The Tadawul All Share Index rose 0.12 percent to close at 11,382 points.

Liquidity in the main market amounted to about SR8.9 billion.

The Saudi Aramco stocks also managed to record a 33 percent rise in its market price since March 2020, while the shares recorded gains of more than 3 percent since the beginning of this year.

SABIC's share also continued its gains for the third consecutive session.

On the other hand, STC shares fell 1.6 percent for the fifth consecutive session.

The parallel market index Nomu ended Tuesday’s session with a slight decrease of 5.25 points, or 0.02 percent, compared to the previous session, and closed at 23918.12 points. The liquidity amounted to about SR88.1 million.


Crypto coins prices seesaw amid growing debate on digital currencies: Market wrap

Crypto coins prices seesaw amid growing debate on digital currencies: Market wrap
Updated 28 September 2021

Crypto coins prices seesaw amid growing debate on digital currencies: Market wrap

Crypto coins prices seesaw amid growing debate on digital currencies: Market wrap

RIYADH: Bitcoin traded lower on Tuesday, falling by 4.21 percent to $41,503.71 at 6:58 p.m. Riyadh time, while Ether slipped down by 7 percent at $2,844.81, according to data from CoinDesk.

Crypto exchanges are increasingly running into resistance from local regulators, who want to be able to monitor their operations better.

Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, said on Monday that users in Singapore would no longer be allowed to buy and trade cryptocurrencies on its main platform, to comply with local regulation.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore this month warned Binance.com that it could be in breach of local laws and should stop providing payment services to the city-state's residents.

From Oct. 26, users in Singapore will no longer be able to deposit fiat currencies, or buy or spot-trade cryptocurrencies on the platform.

In recent months, regulators in Britain, Italy and Hong Kong have said Binance units are not authorized to carry out some activities in their markets, and Malaysia’s financial regulator reprimanded the exchange for operating illegally there

 

Deposit

While cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase said its customers in the US will be able to use the direct deposit service for any percentage of their salary. They can also hold their dollars in dollars or instantly convert them into cryptocurrencies without fees.

“With direct deposit, customers can more easily access our crypto-first financial services and be ready for any trade or purchase,” Max Branzburg, vice president of product at Coinbase, said in a blog post.

“We’re determined to deliver the most trusted full suite of crypto-first financial services to our 68 million users.” 

 

Extreme views

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has spoken out about his stance on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, stating that anyone who borrows money to buy bitcoin is, in his opinion, a fool.

However, Dimon also acknowledged that there is a potential for the crypto sector to increase its value tenfold in the next years.

"I am not personally interested in bitcoin and am not a buyer. This does not mean that the price of Bitcoin cannot reach 10 times its price today in the next five years,” Dimon said in an interview with the Times of India.

 

Long road ahead

Anthony Scaramucci, CEO of Skybridge Capital, believes that there is still a long way to go for institutional investors to embrace bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general.

He stated in an interview with Bloomberg that according to his experience, most institutions are still not interested in cryptocurrency as an investment and only 10 percent are actively investing in cryptocurrency. While this may be a minority, it is a minority that has some influence.

“The institutions are not there. Anybody who’s telling you there’s institutional adoption into this space is not being totally honest or they’re seeing something that I’m not seeing,” Scaramucci said.


Saudia wins World’s Most Improved Airline award for 2021

Saudia wins World’s Most Improved Airline award for 2021
Updated 28 September 2021

Saudia wins World’s Most Improved Airline award for 2021

Saudia wins World’s Most Improved Airline award for 2021

RIYADH: Saudia has won the Skytrax award for the World’s Most Improved Airline for 2021, Saudi Press Agency reported. 

This award reflects an airline’s quality improvement in different areas. The Saudi airlines ranked 26 jumping 31 places in one year.

The national carrier earned this title for the second time. It first won the award in 2017. 


EV Metals partners with Yanbu Royal commission to build $900m battery chemicals complex

EV Metals partners with Yanbu Royal commission to build $900m battery chemicals complex
Updated 28 September 2021

EV Metals partners with Yanbu Royal commission to build $900m battery chemicals complex

EV Metals partners with Yanbu Royal commission to build $900m battery chemicals complex

RIYADH: The Royal Commission in Yanbu on Wednesday signed a $900 million investment agreement with EV Metals to establish and operate a factory for the production of electric battery chemicals.

The facility will be spread over 127 hectares and the investment volume is approximately SR3,375 million. The project is expected to create 494 jobs.