India merchants almost halt exports to Iran as its rupee reserves fall

India merchants almost halt exports to Iran as its rupee reserves fall
“Exporters are avoiding dealing with Iran since payments are getting delayed for months,” said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading house. (File/AFP)
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Updated 04 March 2021

India merchants almost halt exports to Iran as its rupee reserves fall

India merchants almost halt exports to Iran as its rupee reserves fall
  • Under US sanctions, Tehran is unable to use US dollars to transact oil sales
  • The Islamic Republic was buying mainly basmati rice, tea, sugar, soymeal and medicines from India

MUMBAI/ DUBAI: Indian merchants have almost entirely stopped signing new export contracts with Iranian buyers for commodities such as rice, sugar and tea, due to caution about Tehran’s dwindling rupee reserves with Indian banks, six industry officials told Reuters.
“Exporters are avoiding dealing with Iran since payments are getting delayed for months,” said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading house.
Iran’s rupee reserves in India’s UCO and IDBI Bank , the two lenders authorized to facilitate rupee trade, have depleted significantly and exporters are not sure whether they would be paid on time for new shipments, the dealer said.
Under US sanctions, Tehran is unable to use US dollars to transact oil sales.
Iran previously had a deal to sell oil to India in exchange for rupees, which it used to import critical goods, including agricultural commodities, but New Delhi stopped buying Tehran’s oil in May 2019 after a US sanctions waiver expired.
Tehran continued using its rupees to buy goods from India, but after 22 months of no crude sales, Iran’s rupee reserves have fallen, said the sources, who asked not to be named, citing business privacy.
Iran’s reserves have reduced significantly and “will be over soon probably because trade has stopped,” said a senior official with IDBI Bank.
The Islamic Republic was buying mainly basmati rice, tea, sugar, soymeal and medicines from India.
“Rice exporters are concerned about the current payment mechanism,” said Vijay Setia, a rice exporter and former president of the All India Rice Exporters’ Association (AIREA).
“There was too much of delay in payments from last year’s shipments. Exporters received payments six months after shipments,” Setia said.
In the first quarter of 2020 Iran imported nearly 700,000 tons of basmati rice from India, but in the same period this year shipments would be “very negligible,” Setia said.
Last year, Iran was the biggest buyer of India’s basmati rice and sugar. Iran fulfils more than one-third of its sugar and rice demand through imports, traders estimate.
Iran’s trade ministry and Central Bank of Iran declined to comment on the matter.
“We are in talks with Indian government and Indian traders to resolve these payment issues and I believe it will be resolved soon,” said a senior Iranian official, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.
“The delay in payments are due to US sanctions on Iran’s financial system that has made such payments very difficult,” he said.
As rupee reserves have depleted and dollar trade is not allowed, sugar exporters are exploring options to conduct trade in euros, Rahil Shaikh, managing director of MEIR Commodities India, said.
Sugar exporters are focusing on other destinations like Indonesia and Sri Lanka, as Iran is unlikely to buy significant quantities this year, said Shaikh.
India’s overall exports to Tehran fell 42% in 2020 from a year ago to $2.2 billion, the lowest in over a decade, said an official with India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
The fall is continuing in 2021 and in January this year exports more than halved from a year ago to $100.20 million, the official said.
India’s ministry of commerce and industry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trading houses and exporters were hoping new US President Joe Biden could reverse sanctions imposed by his predecessor Donald Trump on the oil-rich country.
“Exports would rebound even if Biden administration provides a few concessions to Iran like allowing oil trade in rupees,” said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm.


Saudi Arabia is China's top oil supplier for seventh straight month

Saudi Arabia is China's top oil supplier for seventh straight month
Updated 8 min 53 sec ago

Saudi Arabia is China's top oil supplier for seventh straight month

Saudi Arabia is China's top oil supplier for seventh straight month
  • Shipments from UAE and Oman surge
  • Some Iranian barrels believed to have slipped in

BEIJING: China’s crude oil imports from top supplier Saudi Arabia rose 8.8 percent in March from a year earlier, driven by strong demand and as shipments delayed due to a port congestion finally arrived.
Imports from the United Arab Emirates also rose again, up 86 percent, as some Iranian barrels were believed to have slipped in. Shipments from Saudi Arabia were 7.84 million tons, equivalent to 1.85 million barrels per day (bpd), data issued by China’s General Administration of Customs showed on Tuesday.
That was higher than 1.7 million bpd a year earlier, but below imports of 1.94 million bpd in February. Saudi Arabia retained its position as China’s biggest crude oil supplier for a seventh consecutive month. Ports at China’s oil refining hub Shandong experienced congestion for a few weeks over January and February, slowing oil arrivals. China’s crude oil imports from Russia rose 6 percent in March to 1.75 million bpd from a year ago, but slipped from 1.91 million bpd in February. Analysts from Refinitiv expect arrivals from Saudi Arabia to further drop in April given a voluntary supply cut of 1 million bpd by the producer and increasing prices of Arab light crude for the Asian market.
Appetite of spot oil would turn to more price competitive African sources, with China’s imports from Angola at 0.74 million bpd in March, versus 0.73 mln bpd a month ago. The customs data also showed that crude oil supplies from Kuwait increased to 0.6 million bpd, up 29 percent from a year earlier. China’s imports from the UAE were at 0.71 million bpd last month, up 86 percent on year. Shipments from Oman rose 60 percent from a year ago to 0.86 million bpd.


Saudi Arabia’s key role in fight against climate change

Saudi Arabia’s key role in fight against climate change
Updated 20 April 2021

Saudi Arabia’s key role in fight against climate change

Saudi Arabia’s key role in fight against climate change
  • Aramco has spent billions on research and development into cleaner oil production technologies

DUBAI: Climate change is the big long-term issue of the post-pandemic world, and this weekend we will all be better placed to judge the global state of play when US President Joe Biden convenes the Leaders’ Summit on Climate he promised soon after moving into the White House.

Some 40 leaders have been invited to take part in the two-day event, including King Salman. In a demonstration of the importance Biden puts on the issue, and the impact of summitry drama, the event will be available for global public consumption via livestream.

The aim of the summit is for global leaders to update each other on their progress toward the goals of the Paris Agreements on climate change mitigation ahead of the COP26 (26th UN conference of the parties) meeting in November, when the targets can be adjusted according to the needs of the planet.

Most climate experts accept that there is an urgent need to accelerate the process of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In Paris, all the nations of the world agreed to reduce emissions, however pollution levels have continued to increase over the past five years.

Even the massive hit to the global economy and transport last year due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic caused only a blip in the rising curve, which is expected to climb sharply upwards this year and next as economic recovery accelerates.

The question — both for the Biden summit and COP26 — is what can be done about it, and this is where Saudi Arabia has a unique contribution to make.

The Kingdom, of course, is the biggest exporter of hydrocarbons in the world, and sits on huge reserves of oil and gas. Its resources have fueled economic development at home and around the globe for decades.

Some people do not appreciate this. The eco-warriors of Europe and North America appear to want nothing at all to do with the most powerful and efficient fuel in history and would like to scrap all further investment in hydrocarbons as a prelude to some green utopia where the streets are crammed with Teslas and all business is conducted via Zoom.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The recent announcement of the Sakaka solar project was a massive step toward the Kingdom’s ambitions in renewables, with the promise of more to come.

• Saudi Aramco already produces the cleanest oil in the world, according to independent scientific studies.

But — and this will probably come as news to Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg and her friends — the Kingdom has also been hyperactive in the climate change campaign over the past couple of years. This is the message it wants to reinforce at Biden’s summit.

It pioneered the framework of the Circular Carbon Economy, an integrated intellectual strategy for tackling emissions while enabling economic growth. This was endorsed by G20 leaders at the summit under Saudi presidency last year.

It has committed the Kingdom to satisfying 50 percent of its domestic energy needs from renewables by 2030, at the same time launching a project — the Saudi Green Initiative — to plant 10 billion trees in the country to mitigate CO2 emissions.

The recent announcement of the Sakaka solar project was a massive step toward the Kingdom’s ambitions in renewables, with the promise of more to come.

Saudi Aramco — which already produces the cleanest oil in the world, according to independent scientific studies — has spent billions on research and development into cleaner oil production technologies and more efficient engineering to optimize hydrocarbon fuel usage in internal combustion engines.

The Kingdom has pioneered the use of hydrogen, in “green” and “blue” forms, which some energy visionaries see as the fuel of the future. Saudi Aramco shipped the first ever consignment of the fuel last summer.

Saudi Arabia, similar to the rest of the world, still has plenty of work to do. In particular, along with other participants at the Biden summit, it must refine and adjust its national commitments under the Paris Agreements.

And it must strive to ensure its ambitious measures to combat climate change come through as fully implemented and actionable policies.

It could also take the lead in investment to find an economically viable technology for carbon capture, utilization, and storage, which some experts see as the silver bullet against CO2 pollution.

But above all it must hammer home the point that economic growth, which the world urgently needs after the COVID-19 pandemic recession, can only be fueled by the responsible and sustainable use of the world’s precious hydrocarbon wealth.


Egypt offers treasury bonds worth $1.05bn

Egypt offers treasury bonds worth $1.05bn
Updated 20 April 2021

Egypt offers treasury bonds worth $1.05bn

Egypt offers treasury bonds worth $1.05bn
  • Move aims to help Finance Ministry clear the govt budget deficit

CAIRO: The Central Bank of Egypt has issued treasury bonds worth EGP 16.5 billion ($1.05 billion), as part of efforts to help the Ministry of Finance clear the government budget deficit.

In a statement, the bank said the value of the first offering amounted to EGP 5 billion for a period of three years, the second offering amounted to EGP 6 billion for a period of five years, and the third 10-year term offering was valued at EGP 5.5 billion.

The government resorted to financing the budget deficit by offering bonds and treasury bills as debt instruments, and government banks are their largest buyers.

Last Saturday, Minister of Finance Mohammed Maait announced that JP Morgan decided to include Egypt in its watchlist for government bonds for emerging markets.

FASTFACTS

• In a statement, the bank said the value of the first offering amounted to EGP 5 billion for a period of three years, the second offering amounted to EGP 6 billion for a period of five years, and the third 10-year term offering was valued at EGP 5.5 billion.

• The minister said that Egypt will enter the index with 14 issues, with a total value of $24 billion.

The minister said that Egypt will enter the index with 14 issues, with a total value of $24 billion.

Nevin Mansour, adviser to the deputy minister of finance for financial policies, expected that Egypt would attract new foreign investments in local treasury bonds at about $4.4 billion over a period ranging from six months to a year after Egypt entered the JP Morgan emerging market index in October or November.

Mansour explained that Egypt will receive a 1.78 percent share of any investments that will be pumped into the index and that the inclusion on the index allows international investment banks to evaluate the performance of Egyptian debt instruments and their trading movements, which will result in attracting new foreign investments.


Toyota to review climate stance as investors turn up the heat

Toyota to review climate stance as investors turn up the heat
Updated 20 April 2021

Toyota to review climate stance as investors turn up the heat

Toyota to review climate stance as investors turn up the heat
  • The carmaker came under scrutiny after siding with the Trump administration in 2019 in a bid to bar the state of California from setting its own fuel efficiency rules

TOKYO: Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. signaled a shift in its climate change stance on Monday, saying it would review its lobbying and be more transparent on what steps it is taking as it faces increased activist and investor pressure.

The carmaker came under scrutiny after siding with the Trump administration in 2019 in a bid to bar the state of California from setting its own fuel efficiency rules. Toyota “will review public policy engagement activities through our company and industry associations to confirm they are consistent with the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement,” it said in a statement, adding that actions will be announced by the end of this year.

The automaker also said it will “strive to provide more information so that our stakeholders can understand our effort to achieve carbon neutrality.”

A company spokeswoman, who confirmed that “public policy engagement activities” includes lobbying, was not able to respond immediately to questions about pressure from investors.

Four funds with about $235 billion in assets under management are pressuring Toyota before its annual shareholder meeting in June to draw a line under its lobbying against international efforts to prevent catastrophic global warming.

“This move must not be a PR exercise but instead signal a clear end to its role in negative climate lobbying which has given it a laggard status,” Jens Munch Holst, chief executive officer of Danish pension fund AkademikerPension, told Reuters.

AkademikerPension has “escalated via intense direct engagement” with Toyota after a decade of communicating with the automaker through a third party, Troels Børrild, spokesman at the Danish fund, told Reuters.

AkademikerPension will consider preparing a shareholders resolution to submit at next year’s annual general meeting if “Toyota fails to deliver on its commitment,” Børrild said.

The fund would consider selling its Toyota holding if there is no change, but the spokesman said fund officials did not believe it would come to that.

“Right up until now, the company has repeatedly undermined climate action, from opposing the UK government’s ban on internal combustion engines by 2030 to opposing car fuel economy standards in the US,” Munch Holst said. The Toyota spokeswoman told Reuters that it would need more time to respond to Munch Holst’s comments.

The other investors are Church of England Pensions Board, Sweden’s AP7 and Norway’s Storebrand.

Toyota was among major automakers that supported the Trump administration in its attempt to bar California from setting its own fuel efficiency rules or zero emission requirements.

They have since dropped that support in a “gesture of good faith an to find a constructive path forward” with the Biden administration.

With pressure growing on carmakers to slash emissions, Toyota is also scrambling to produce EVs that can compete globally with rivals’ models.

Toyota this year settled a lengthy Justice Department civil probe into its delayed filing of emissions-related defect reports for $180 million.


Oilfields Supply Center to invest $570m in new facility at Saudi energy park

Oilfields Supply Center to invest $570m in new facility at Saudi energy park
Updated 19 April 2021

Oilfields Supply Center to invest $570m in new facility at Saudi energy park

Oilfields Supply Center to invest $570m in new facility at Saudi energy park
  • The OSC base will contribute to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 efforts to localize more of the energy supply chain

RIYADH: Oilfields Supply Center Limited (OSC) is to invest $570 million building a center at the King Salman Energy Park (SPARK).

The OSC base, measuring 1 million square meters and including multiple areas and zones, will contribute to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 efforts to localize more of the energy supply chain.

“OSC is providing pre-built industrial solutions which de-risk the set-up phase for investors and give them flexibility to rent industrial facilities and workshops on demand, in addition to providing a full set of supporting services,” Dr. Mohammad Yahya Al-Qahtani, chairman of the SPARK board of directors, said in a press statement on Monday. “The base is expected to create thousands of jobs in the energy fields.” 

Iqbal Mohammad Abedin, OSC’s director and corporate affairs general manager, said all phases of work on the site were due to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2023. 

Dr. Mohammad Yahya Al-Qahtani

“The creation of an oil and gas supply base on site at SPARK, the region’s only fully integrated energy hub, is another example of how the project complements Aramco’s In-Kingdom Total Value Add Program, which encourages the development of a diverse, sustainable and globally competitive energy sector in the Kingdom,” Abedin said. 

SPARK will be built in three phases. Last month, it announced that 80 percent of the infrastructure work for phase one had been completed, with the remaining 20 percent due to be finished this year. 

The first phase’s near-completion means the allotted land is ready for investment, and 35 investment applications have been approved for companies and their support services. Contracts have already been signed with 23 other companies, the company said in March.

Two strategic agreements have also been signed with the Industrialization and Energy Services Co. (TAQA) and the Arab Minerals Co. (AMCO).

Under the agreement, TAQA is seeking to expand its local operations through the TAQA Industrial Complex, with an initial investment of up to SR300 million ($80 million). AMCO is investing SR260 million to develop a new center in the city.

SPARK is being built on an area of 50 square kilometers. Phase one will be 14 square kilometers, in addition to a dedicated logistics zone and dry port.

OSC is owned by the Dubai government and was established in the early 1960s.