Saudia signs new flight deal to help boost e-commerce

Saudia signs new flight deal to help boost e-commerce
The new flights are as a result of the signing of a cargo agreement with IT and logistics operator Cainiao Network, the logistic arm of Alibaba Group.. (Supplied)
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Updated 03 March 2021

Saudia signs new flight deal to help boost e-commerce

Saudia signs new flight deal to help boost e-commerce

RIYADH: Saudi Arabian air freight flag carrier Saudia Cargo is to operate five weekly flights from Hong Kong to Liege in Belgium, with Riyadh as a connection point, in a bid to help boost e-commerce links between Europe and China.

The new flights are as a result of the signing of a cargo agreement with IT and logistics operator Cainiao Network, the logistic arm of Alibaba Group.

Cainiao logistic services cover more than 200 countries, while Alibaba Group is one of the largest e-commerce brands in the world. Its total revenue for the last three months of 2020 was up 37 percent to $34.2 billion.

Saudia Cargo CEO Omar Hariri said: “We are excited for this strategic agreement (with Cainiao) which will enhance logistic services between the two continents through the famous Alibaba’s e-commerce platform and its high traffic of online shoppers.

“This agreement is part of our framework to transform the Kingdom into an open gate for world trade and a bridge connecting East and West by leveraging its strategic location in the center of the world. Other promising partnerships will be coming up in the near future to reinforce logistic operations of Alibaba in both continents,” he added.

William Xiong, Cainiao’s chief strategist and general manager of export logistics, said: “We are happy to launch a collaboration with Saudia Cargo. Both our sellers and customers from China, Saudi Arabia, and Europe will benefit from the new flights that will decrease delivery time for their parcels.

“Expanding our logistics network into new regions will also help us in building efficient global exports networks. This new route will be one of the key elements to create seamless logistics and increase synergy between different regions.”


JIMCO Technology Fund joins a $1.8bn funding round for fusion energy 

JIMCO Technology Fund joins a $1.8bn funding round for fusion energy 
Updated 20 sec ago

JIMCO Technology Fund joins a $1.8bn funding round for fusion energy 

JIMCO Technology Fund joins a $1.8bn funding round for fusion energy 

The Saudi-based Jameel Investment Management Co. has participated in a $1.8billion funding round for a US fusion energy company, it has been announced.

JIMCO has invested an undeclared amount in Commonwealth Fusion Systems, a company founded in 2018 that is building the world’s first net-energy-giant fusion system.

“The world is ready to make big investments in commercial fusion as a key part of the global energy transition,” the chief executive officer of CFS, Bob Mumgaard, said.

The High-Temperature Superconducting magnet technology will be used in SPARC, a fusion device that is currently being constructed in Massachusetts and expected to demonstrate net energy from fusion by 2025. 

This comes amid the parties’ steps towards a more sustainable future to mitigate climate change.


Barclays, RBS, HSBC, Credit Suisse fined $390m for forex cartel

Barclays, RBS, HSBC, Credit Suisse fined $390m for forex cartel
European Flags in front of the European Commission Headquarters building in Brussels. Shutterstock
Updated 55 min 30 sec ago

Barclays, RBS, HSBC, Credit Suisse fined $390m for forex cartel

Barclays, RBS, HSBC, Credit Suisse fined $390m for forex cartel
  • HSBC’s fine was the largest at 174.3 million euros

European Union antitrust regulators fined Barclays, Credit Suisse, HSBC and RBS a total of 344 million euros ($390 million) on Thursday for rigging the foreign exchange spot trading market.


UBS avoided a 94 million euro fine as it had alerted the European Commission about the cartel. The EU competition regulator said the cartel had focused on forex spot trading of G10 currencies.


HSBC’s fine was the largest at 174.3 million euros, followed by Credit Suisse at 83.3 million euros, Barclays at 54.3 million and RBS at 32.5 million.


Barclays, HSBC and RBS admitted wrongdoing in return for a cut in the penalty. RBS is now known as NatWest following a rebranding last year.


The fines are the latest to hit banks, which have received billions of euros in penalties worldwide over more than a decade for the rigging of benchmarks used in many day-to-day financial transactions.


“Today we complete our sixth cartel investigation in the financial sector since 2013 and conclude the third leg of our investigation into the foreign exchange spot trading market,” EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.


World food prices climb in November, stay at 10-year peak: FAO

World food prices climb in November, stay at 10-year peak: FAO
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 02 December 2021

World food prices climb in November, stay at 10-year peak: FAO

World food prices climb in November, stay at 10-year peak: FAO
  • Agricultural commodity prices have risen steeply in the past year

World food prices rose for a fourth straight month in November to remain at 10-year highs, led by strong demand for wheat and dairy products, the UN food agency said on Thursday.


The Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index, which tracks international prices of the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 134.4 points last month compared with a revised 132.8 for October.


The October figure was previously given as 133.2.


The November reading was the highest for the index since June 2011. On a year-on-year basis, the index was up 27.3 percent last month.


Agricultural commodity prices have risen steeply in the past year, driven by harvest setbacks and strong demand.


The FAO’s cereal price index rose by 3.1 percent in November from the previous month and was 23.2 percent higher than its year-ago level, with wheat prices hitting their highest level since May 2011.


FAO said wheat prices were supported by concerns about unseasonable rains in Australia and uncertainty over potential changes to export measures in Russia.


The dairy price index posted the largest monthly rise, up 3.4 percent from the previous month.

“Strong global import demand persisted for butter and milk powders as buyers sought to secure spot supplies in anticipating of tightening markets,” FAO said.


Global sugar prices rose 1.4 percent on the month and was up nearly 40 percent year-on-year. “The increase was primarily driven by higher ethanol prices,” FAO said.


The meat price index posted its fourth consecutive monthly decline, shedding 0.9 percent on the month, while world vegetable oil prices fell 0.3 percent on October levels, but international palm oil prices remained firm, FAO said.


Rome-based FAO cut its projection of global cereal production in 2021 to 2.791 billion tons from 2.793 billion estimated a month ago, according to its cereal supply and demand outlook 


However, the expected world cereal output would still represent a record, FAO said.


“The month-to-month downgrade is primarily the result of an anticipated marginally smaller global coarse grains outturn, reflecting reduced forecasts for barley and sorghum production,” FAO said.


World cereal utilization in 2021/22 was forecast to rise by 1.7 percent above the 2020/21 level, hitting 2.810 billion tons.

FAO’s forecast for world cereal stocks by the close of seasons in 2022 stood at 822 million tons, up 2.9 million tons since November but still down 0.7 percent from opening levels. 


GCC economies to witness an aggregate growth rate of 2.6% in 2021, says World Bank

GCC economies to witness an aggregate growth rate of 2.6% in 2021, says World Bank
Updated 02 December 2021

GCC economies to witness an aggregate growth rate of 2.6% in 2021, says World Bank

GCC economies to witness an aggregate growth rate of 2.6% in 2021, says World Bank

RIYADH: Gulf Cooperation Council economies are likely to achieve an aggregate growth rate of 2.6 percent in 2021, according to the World Bank Gulf Economic Update issued on Thursday.

The report, titled “Seizing the Opportunity for a Sustainable Recovery”, attributed the rebound to stronger oil prices and the growth of non-oil sectors. 

It predicted the trend is likely to continue into 2022 as “OPEC+ mandated oil production cuts are phased out and higher oil prices improve business sentiment and attract additional investment.”

It added that the outlook in the medium term is subject to risks from slower global recovery, renewed coronavirus outbreaks, and oil sector volatility.

The report also identified large wage bills as a threat to the GCC economies. “With high population growth and limited options in the private sector, the wage bill has become unsustainable in some GCC countries, as it is a large part of government spending and of the economy overall,” said Issam Abousleiman, World Bank’s regional director for the GCC.

The average GCC wage bill has surpassed the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s average over the past two decades, except in Qatar and the UAE, the report showed.

In the Kingdom, allowances for civil servants rose to SR148 billion ($39 billion) in 2019 from SR44 billion in 2016, forming more than a third of the Kingdom’s total wage bill.

Also, salaries and benefits allocation in Kuwait’s 2022 budget amounted to 55 percent of its total expenditure, while Oman’s wage bill has doubled in the past decade.


OPEC+ likely to stick to existing oil output pact sources say

OPEC+ likely to stick to existing oil output pact sources say
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 51 min 40 sec ago

OPEC+ likely to stick to existing oil output pact sources say

OPEC+ likely to stick to existing oil output pact sources say
  • Two OPEC+ sources said the group would discuss pausing the January increase as an option

OPEC+ is likely to stick to its existing oil output pact under which it has agreed to raise production by 400,000 barrels per day in January, two senior OPEC+ sources said on Thursday.


Other OPEC+ sources have said several options could be discussed in Thursday’s ministerial talks, including pausing the production rise.

One OPEC+ source said one idea that might be considered was to raise output by 200,000 bpd in January, not 400,000 bpd.


Brent has tumbled to about $70 a barrel, down from October’s three-year highs above $86.

Prices in November registered their biggest monthly decline since the start of the pandemic as the Omicron variant raised fears of a glut.


The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, have resisted US requests for speedier increases in oil output to support the global economy.


Producers have said they did not want to hamper a fragile energy industry recovery with oversupply.


Under its existing pact, OPEC+ agreed to raise output by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) each month, winding down record cuts agreed in 2020 when demand crashed because of the pandemic.


But market uncertainties leave its next move in the balance.


Russia and Saudi Arabia, the biggest OPEC+ producers, said before this week’s talks, which began with an online OPEC meeting on Wednesday, that there was no need for a knee-jerk reaction to amend policy.


OPEC+ experts said in a report seen by Reuters on Wednesday that the impact from Omicron was not yet clear, even though many countries were introducing lockdowns and other restrictions.


Even before concerns about Omicron emerged, OPEC+ had been weighing the effects of last week’s announcement by the United States and other major consumers that they would release emergency crude reserves to temper energy prices.


US President Joe Biden’s administration could adjust the timing of any release if prices dropped substantially, US Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk told Reuters on Wednesday.


OPEC+ forecast a 3 million bpd surplus in the first quarter of 2022 after the release of reserves, up from a 2.3 million bpd surplus previously forecast.


Last year, OPEC+ made record output cuts of 10 million bpd, equivalent to about 10 percent of global supply. It has scaled those back so cuts still in place now stand at about 3.8 million bpd.


However, OPEC+ has been regularly producing below its target level as some members have struggled to rebuild output, producing about 700,000 bpd less than planned in both September and October, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says.