Saudi Arabia expands partnership with Brazilian meat operator

Saudi Arabia expands partnership with Brazilian meat operator
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Updated 15 February 2021

Saudi Arabia expands partnership with Brazilian meat operator

Saudi Arabia expands partnership with Brazilian meat operator
  • In a second agreement, Minerva will supply its products to SALIC for distribution in the Middle East and Asia.

RIYADH: A Saudi agriculture investment firm is to expand into Australia through a partnership deal with a Brazilian livestock company.

The Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Co. (SALIC), a joint stock company owned by the Public Investment Fund, has entered into an agreement with Brazil’s Minerva Foods to acquire assets in Australia and set up a joint venture for the processing and export of beef and lamb produce.

“The company believes that Australia uniquely complements our operations in South America, maximizing sales opportunities and operating synergies, reducing risks and contributing to our strategy of consolidation in the animal protein export market,” Minerva Foods said in a statement.

In a second agreement, Minerva will supply its products to SALIC for distribution in the Middle East and Asia.

In a statement, Minerva said the tie-up would strengthen its exposure in those regions, adding that the Middle East and Asia accounted for around 55 percent of its beef exports in the first nine months of last year. SALIC may purchase as much as 25,000 tons of Minerva’s products a year, the meat packer said.

In September, SALIC announced it was increasing its stake in Minerva from 25.5 percent to 33.83 percent. In a statement at the time, SALIC said: “Minerva Foods is one of the largest meat production companies in South America and the second-largest exporter in Brazil as it produces more than 1 million tons of meat annually.

“Minerva Foods mainly serves the demands of foreign markets and during this year, it has already exported 750,000 tons of red meat to more than 100 countries around the globe.”

Minerva was founded in 1992 and operates 25 slaughterhouses and three processing plants in South America, with revenues amounting to 19 billion Brazilian reals ($3.54 billion) during the 12 months ending June 30, 2020.

SALIC first bought into the Minerva business in 2015 when it acquitted a 19.95 percent stake. Established in 2012, SALIC has been operating in the agricultural and livestock investment sector and its strategic goal is to secure imports for essential food commodities, as part of the Kingdom’s food security strategy.

According to SALIC, Saudi Arabia annually consumes 550,000 tons of red meat, of which 70 percent is imported.


Israeli minister says interconnection with Gulf grid would boost Mideast energy security

Israeli minister says interconnection with Gulf grid would boost Mideast energy security
Updated 03 March 2021

Israeli minister says interconnection with Gulf grid would boost Mideast energy security

Israeli minister says interconnection with Gulf grid would boost Mideast energy security

LONDON: The Israeli energy minister has said connecting his country’s electricity grid with other regional economies would boost energy security for the entire Middle East.

Israeli energy minister Yuval Steinitz made the remarks at the CERAWeek virtual gathering of global energy industry leaders on Wednesday, where his counterparts from the UAE and Egypt were also speaking.

“The connection with Egypt and the Emirates and the regional cooperation give us the assurances that we will be able to increase energy security in the future,” he said.

“Just one example, if we will be able to connect our electricity transmission systems between Egypt, Israel, the United Arab Emirates — and maybe through Jordan and Saudi Arabia — and we are also discussing connecting ourselves and this region to Europe through Cyprus and Greece, this would give us better energy security than we ever knew in the past.”

His remarks come as the Middle East energy landscape is being rapidly redrawn as new gas finds in the Eastern Mediterranean spark new rivalries at the same time as former foes reach rapprochement.

“It is a new Middle East — especially in the field of energy,” he said. “The establishment of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum in Cairo is a testimony to the new atmosphere."

The East Mediterranean Gas Forum, which was formed in 2019, includes Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Greece, Italy and the Palestinian territories — but not Turkey.

On Wednesday, the Turkish foreign minister said that his country was willing to negotiate with Egypt and sign a deal over maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean.

“Depending on the trajectory of relations, we could negotiate maritime boundaries with Egypt and reach an agreement in the future,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters.

The idea of connecting the electricity grids of some of the region’s major power producers could also reduce redundancy in the grid, said UAE energy minister Suhail Al-Mazrouei.

“It is important that as we as countries talk about reducing emissions we need to talk about reducing redundancy in the systems we have and by doing that we can automatically reduce CO2 emissions,” he said.


Russian shipping line launched to export Egyptian crops

Russian shipping line launched to export Egyptian crops
Updated 03 March 2021

Russian shipping line launched to export Egyptian crops

Russian shipping line launched to export Egyptian crops
  • The inauguration of the Russian Leader Line comes in the wake of cooperation between Egypt and Russia

CAIRO: Egypt’s Kadmar Shipping Co. has announced the launch of the Russian Leader Line for transporting Egyptian agricultural crops between Alexandria and Russia.

In a statement, the company said that the line would start shipping citrus, potatoes, grapes, pomegranates, and other produce this month.

It added that shipments would take place via weekly direct sailings between the Alexandria Container and Cargo Handling Co. terminal at Dekheila port and the Novorossiysk container terminal on the Black Sea.

The inauguration of the Russian Leader Line comes in the wake of cooperation between Egypt and Russia and a presidential directive to increase Egyptian exports.


UK to raise corporation tax to pay for COVID crisis

UK to raise corporation tax to pay for COVID crisis
Updated 03 March 2021

UK to raise corporation tax to pay for COVID crisis

UK to raise corporation tax to pay for COVID crisis
  • Sunak said he would encourage businesses to invest their cash reserves with a so-called “super deduction”
  • The UK introduced corporation tax at a rate of 40 percent in 1965. It rose to a high of 52 percent in the 1970s.

LONDON: Britain will raise corporation tax to 25 percent from 19 percent from 2023 to help pay for the cost of the COVID crisis but tempered the tax rise with a “super deduction” to spur investment, finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday.

“The government is providing businesses with over £100 billion ($139.2 billion) of support to get through this pandemic so it is fair and necessary to ask them to contribute to our recovery,” Sunak told parliament.

“Even after this change, the United Kingdom will still have the lowest corporation tax rate in the G7,” Sunak said.

Sunak said he would encourage businesses to invest their cash reserves with a so-called “super deduction” to reduce their tax bill by 130 percent of the cost.

He said that under existing rules, a construction firm buying £10 million of new equipment could reduce their taxable income in the year they invest by £2.6 million but with the "super deduction" they could reduce it by £13 million.

“We’ve never tried this before in our country,” Sunak said.

Sunak quoted the Office for Budget Responsibility as saying it would boost investment by 10 percent; around £20 billion higher per year.

“It makes our tax regime for business investment truly world-leading, lifting us from 30th in the OECD, to 1st,” he said.

“This will be the biggest business tax cut in modern British history.”

The UK introduced corporation tax at a rate of 40 percent in 1965. It rose to a high of 52 percent in the 1970s.

In the 1980s, the main rate was cut to 35 percent under Margaret Thatcher, then during the 1990s from 35 percent to 30 percent and eventually to 20 percent.

The rate was cut to 19 percent from 2017 and was supposed to be reduced further to 18 percent and then 17 percent but has been held at 19 percent.

Sunak said small businesses with profits of less than £50,000 a year would be charged only 19 percent - so around 70 percent of businesses would be unaffected.

He also said the government would taper in the tax on profits above £50,000 so that only businesses with profits of £250,000 or more - around 10 percent of companies - would be taxed at the full 25 percent rate.


Snarl-ups to start-ups: Cairo’s jams inspire tech solutions

Snarl-ups to start-ups: Cairo’s jams inspire tech solutions
Updated 03 March 2021

Snarl-ups to start-ups: Cairo’s jams inspire tech solutions

Snarl-ups to start-ups: Cairo’s jams inspire tech solutions
  • Public transport in Egyptian capital is stretched to limits
  • Cairo driver wastes over five days a year sitting still in traffic

CAIRO: In gridlocked and heavily polluted Cairo, start-ups are searching for technological solutions to solve the transport headaches for an expanding megacity already struggling with over 20 million people.
With only three metro lines and overcrowded, run-down buses servicing the capital, public transport is stretched to its limits.
“The problem of traffic in Greater Cairo has resulted in very low average speeds, not exceeding 10 kilometers (six miles) per hour,” said traffic expert Osama Okail, from Cairo University, who says the solution to the capital’s woes must lie in fixing public transport.
Cairo, the most populous Arab city where a fifth of all Egyptians live, is ranked 30th worst in the world for congestion, according to TomTom, the Dutch vehicle navigations systems maker.
Runaway growth has pushed the ancient city to breaking point.
Egypt’s government has embarked on an ambitious urban transformation, but that is mainly focused on the construction of a new administrative city some 50 kilometers (30 miles) east of Cairo.
In Cairo itself, several giant road flyovers have been built to avoid jams in densely populated suburbs, criticized by some for the architectural damage done in historic areas.
For middle-class consumers, ride-hailing and delivery giant Uber and its Middle East subsidiary Careem have moved to plug the gap of poor public transport.
But tech-savvy Egyptians are also looking for their own homegrown solutions.
They include the start-up Transport for Cairo (TfC), which launched a detailed mapping of the city’s routes including informal transport networks to provide “actionable and high quality data.”
The data is used “to improve urban mobility,” to help commuters best navigate the city and cut down journey times.
“By mapping large cities and using the data for future planning, we are hoping to change them for the better,” said TfC co-founder Mohamed Hegazy.
“We are working with the authorities to change the way the system works.”
For now, an informal system of minibuses, motorized rickshaws, taxis, and millions of personal cars clog the city’s urban arteries bumper to bumper.
TomTom calculates that a Cairo driver wastes over five days a year sitting still in traffic.
That has a dramatic impact on work productivity, adding up to as much as $8 billion lost each year, according to a 2014 World Bank study.
It estimates Cairo’s traffic congestion could cost Egypt as much as four percent of its entire GDP.
Making travel simpler is one way to get commuters out of private cars and onto public transport, reducing congestion on the roads.
Another start-up, Ocra Wallet, is trying to digitise the estimated $30 million circulating as cash daily in commuter fares through its phone app, creating contactless payment to pay for tickets.
“We are working to make payments for transport easier,” Ocra founder Khalid Khaleel told AFP.
Ocra, which means fare in Arabic, is subsidising ticket prices by selling advertising to private bus companies.
“The money that comes from that we use to help users as well as drivers,” Khaleel said, adding he believes that by stopping the handling of cash, the app can help cut coronavirus transmission too.
Meanwhile, ridesharing service Tink hopes to break into the carpooling sector, with an app that creates social networks of common friends going to the same destination.
“We have turned carpooling more into social gatherings,” said one of Tink’s founders, Adel Al-Mahrouky.
Traffic snarl-ups mean higher levels of harmful emissions, with air pollution costing some one percent of GDP, the World Bank estimated.
For Egyptian tech experts, the hope is online solutions can help make much bigger changes.
Map-maker Hegazy believes his data can set Cairo on the path toward “the ultimate goal” — of decarbonizing the transport network.
“Everything must be electric,” he said.


Saudi Arabia plans to move real estate transactions onto digital platform

Saudi Arabia plans to move real estate transactions onto digital platform
Updated 03 March 2021

Saudi Arabia plans to move real estate transactions onto digital platform

Saudi Arabia plans to move real estate transactions onto digital platform
  • 10 million documents already digitized
  • Part of broader push to modernize sector

DUBAI: A planned digital platform will allow properties to be bought and sold in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Minister of Justice, Walid Al-Samaani told Al Saudiya Channel, on Tuesday, Al Arabiya reported.
It would give investors peace of mind by guaranteeing the accuracy of information about the properties being transacted.
He added that some 10 million real estate ownership documents out of an estimated 100 million had already been digitized as part of the process.
Modernizing the real estate sector is a key part of the Kingdom’s efforts to diversify its economy.