China says wants economy to grow over 6 percent in 2021

China has been trying to rebalance the economy from its export- and investment-led model to one driven by consumer spending and high-quality development. (Reuters/File)
China has been trying to rebalance the economy from its export- and investment-led model to one driven by consumer spending and high-quality development. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 06 March 2021

China says wants economy to grow over 6 percent in 2021

China says wants economy to grow over 6 percent in 2021
  • Some analysts suggest the economy could expand by as much as 9% this year

BEIJING: China’s leaders said Friday they had set a target for GDP to grow more than 6 percent this year, as the world’s second largest economy surges out of a pandemic-induced slump.

The global growth powerhouse stuttered in 2020, logging its slowest expansion in four decades as strict virus containment measures at home collided with a freeze in international trade.
The slowdown raised doubts about the Communist Party’s ability to deliver on its pledge of continued prosperity in return for unquestioned political power.
But with the coronavirus largely brought under control domestically, analysts expect a strong comeback, with some suggesting the economy could expand by as much as nine percent this year.
Beijing usually sets a target it feels it can exceed. It did not set one at all last year.
Announcing the figure at the start of the annual legislative session, Premier Li Keqiang said the government had “taken into account the recovery of economic activity.”
The target of over 6 percent also dovetails with future goals, Li said, and these include reform, innovation, and “high-quality development.”
Authorities say they want to create 11 million new urban jobs this year, and keep urban unemployment around 5.5 percent.
Outside observers caution that China’s unemployment figures may not tell the whole story, with many people across the vast nation involved in the informal workforce.
Analysts had widely predicted the continued global uncertainty would make it tricky for China to set a GDP target again this year, and greeted the 6 percent figure as deliberately cautious.
“The bar is set too low ... (it’s) as if there is no target,” ING chief economist for Greater China Iris Pang told AFP.
This could be because Beijing does not want to slash its growth target next year, when distortions from the pandemic subside, added Nomura chief China economist Lu Ting.
The figure also reflects “the shifting focus from quantity to quality of economic growth,” said Zhu Chaoping, a strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.
That could include resources being allocated to long-term initiatives like environmental protection, Zhu added.
Leaders also did not specify a growth target in its new five-year plan draft published Friday, as is its usual custom, only saying it would be “maintained within a reasonable range.”
China has been trying to rebalance the economy from its export- and investment-led economic model to one driven by consumer spending and high-quality development.
The post-COVID economic rebound saw China’s GDP growth recorded at about 2 percent last year, which made it the only major economy to post positive figures in a year lost to the virus.
With weakness around the world caused by the prolonged pandemic shutdown, capitals around the globe will be watching China’s economic performance eagerly.


SABIC unit aims to ramp up investment support for industrial SMEs

SABIC unit aims to ramp up investment support for industrial SMEs
Faisal Al-Buhair
Updated 34 min 19 sec ago

SABIC unit aims to ramp up investment support for industrial SMEs

SABIC unit aims to ramp up investment support for industrial SMEs
  • Nusaned program has potential to create more than 2,000 jobs

JEDDAH: Nusaned Investment, the localization initiative from Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), was set up in 2018 as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan to diversify the non-oil economy by encouraging the growth of local companies and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the industrial sector.

“We connect potential investors to the program,” Faisal Al-Buhair, vice president local content and business development and CEO of Nusaned, told Arab News. “Once they register with the Entema platform, which is the opportunity gate at Nusaned, we take them through the investor’s journey.”

Last year 106 Saudi entrepreneurs qualified for Nusaned’s program. The screening of proposed investments is an important step in ensuring that the program focuses on the right candidates and those with the ability to scale up and have national impact.

“An important criteria in our screening process is that the investment needs to support the National Industry Strategy sectors and thereby add value to Saudi Vision 2030,” Al-Buhair said. “In any case, an investor who shows a high level of commitment, knowledge, and readiness will have a higher chance of success.”

He was optimistic about the year ahead after the challenges the Kingdom had faced because of the pandemic in 2020.

Nusaned is aiming to increase its investments in companies that are considered to be strategic and critical industries for the Kingdom, such as automotive, aviation, food processing and pharmaceutical/medical manufacturing.

“We are keen on investments that offer differentiated solutions, specialized applications, and advanced technology to help the Kingdom enhance its competitiveness in local and export markets,” Al-Buhair said.

So far the program has more than 33 investments in the execution phase, of which 14 are already in operation. These investments have an expected annualized gross domestic impact of over $500 million and the potential to create more than 2,000 jobs.

This week Nusaned signed an investment agreement with the Saudi Pallet Manufacturing Company (SPMC) to promote the local production of plastic pallets. The funding will help SPMC to accelerate its product development, ramp up production, and expand its product reach regionally and globally.

“The partnership with SABIC will enable SPMC to serve the fast-moving consumer goods market by producing technologically advanced and patented multi-use plastic pallets from its manufacturing facility in Dammam,” Omar Al-Shawaf, SPMC CEO, said in a press statement.


Syrian government sacks central bank governor

Syrian government sacks central bank governor
Updated 13 April 2021

Syrian government sacks central bank governor

Syrian government sacks central bank governor
  • Analyst said governor didn’t live up to his role through implementing real interventions to salvage local currency
  • Syrian pound lost more than 98 percent of its value against the dollar over past decade

DAMASCUS: The Syrian government on Tuesday dismissed central bank governor Hazem Karfoul whose three-year tenure coincided with a severe economic crisis.
“President Bashar Assad issues a decree terminating the appointment of Hazem Karfoul,” the presidency said in a statement.
It did not give a reason or appoint a replacement.
Karfoul was named central bank governor in 2018, seven years into a conflict that has killed more than 388,000 people and displaced millions.
He oversaw an accelerating economic crisis sparked by civil war and compounded by sanctions, the coronavirus pandemic and a financial crunch in neighboring Lebanon.
An analyst in Damascus, asking not to be named over security concerns, said Karfoul “did not live up to his role through implementing real interventions” that could salvage the local currency.
Karfoul, he said, had been incapable of “quick and decisive decisions” at a time when the government was looking for “energetic new faces” to oversee a rescue phase.
The Syrian pound has lost more than 98 percent of its value against the dollar over the past decade.
Officially valued at 1,256 to the greenback, it sold for more than 3,000 on the black market on Tuesday, money exchangers told AFP.
Last month, it sold for 4,000 to the greenback, hitting an all-time low.
The government last month started enforcing a series of measures to stem a further drop in the pound’s value, according to pro-government newspaper Al-Watan.
They include new import bans and a state crackdown on unofficial money exchangers, it said.
Karfoul held several posts at the central bank, including deputy chief, before he was named governor.
The US treasury department sanctioned him in 2020 along with several other senior officials.
In its announcement, the treasury cited reports that Karfoul in September 2019 met with some of Syria’s wealthiest businessmen to press them to donate to state coffers.
He allegedly “identified the properties and other assets of the businessmen during the meeting and had suggested... their fortunes could be seized if they did not give a significant contribution.”


Egypt imposes measures to protect against aluminum dumping

Egypt imposes measures to protect against aluminum dumping
Updated 13 April 2021

Egypt imposes measures to protect against aluminum dumping

Egypt imposes measures to protect against aluminum dumping
  • It covers a number of aluminum products manufactured from the metal as well as cylinders and wire

DUBAI: Egypt has introduced measures to control aluminum imports for three years, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a filing.
It covers a number of aluminum products manufactured from the metal as well as cylinders and wire.
The ministry agreed to implement the measures in response to the large increase in aluminum products, said Ibrahim Al-Sigini, assistant minister of trade and industry for economic affairs.
The increase has hurt Egypt's domestic aluminum manufacturing sector, he said.
The country has informed the World Trade Organization (WTO) of its decision in line with international trade rules.


Dubai sovereign wealth fund skyscraper has double-decker lifts

Dubai sovereign wealth fund skyscraper has double-decker lifts
Updated 13 April 2021

Dubai sovereign wealth fund skyscraper has double-decker lifts

Dubai sovereign wealth fund skyscraper has double-decker lifts
  • Builder ALEC Engineering and Contracting has just completed the main structural construction work on Tower A

DUBAI: Dubai’s latest skyscraper that will be home to the emirate’s sovereign wealth fund comes with double-decker lifts.

Builder ALEC Engineering and Contracting has just finished the main construction works of Tower A on Ithra Dubai’s One Za’abeel project.

“One Za’abeel was designed as a floating gateway to Dubai’s financial district," said Fadi Jabri, executive officer at Nikken Sekkei, the lead architects and engineers on the project.

Standing 304 meters tall, it is connected to neighboring Tower B via a 225 meter sky bridge known as ‘The Link’.

Elevated at just over 100 meters above ground, ‘The Link’ will place the project in the record books as the world’s longest occupied building cantilever, the contractor said.

But perhaps an equally interesting feature for people working in the building will be its double-decker lifts serving two adjacent floors simultaneously.

Designing tall buildings with enough lift capacity has been a perennial problem for architects working on the emirate's famously tall buildings since the earliest days of the construction boom years.

Some of the city's buildings have gained a reputation for congestion during peak hours such as lunchtime when lobbies can quickly become crammed with workers.

That has put elevator technology at the center of many of Dubai's super-tall buildings, with designers adding increasingly intricate features designed to get more people up and down buildings more quickly, with mixed success.

The new Tower A building will have three lifts dedicated to serving the ground and first floors to the 24th and 25th and two lifts traveling from basement one and ground floor to the 61st and 62nd floors.

It will give passengers express access to ‘The Link’ and ICD offices respectively at a speed of eight meters per second, meaning a transit time of just forty seconds from the basement and ground floor to the top, ALEC said.


Jordan must tackle unemployment and electricity reforms, says IMF

Jordan must tackle unemployment and electricity reforms, says IMF
Updated 13 April 2021

Jordan must tackle unemployment and electricity reforms, says IMF

Jordan must tackle unemployment and electricity reforms, says IMF
  • The IMF staff and Jordan reached staff-level-agreement on the second review under the Extended Fund Facility, on March 30

RIYADH: Jordan must address high unemployment to deliver durable, jobs-rich and inclusive growth, said IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.
The country also needs to advance electricity sector reforms, boost business competitiveness, and strengthen governance and transparency, she added.
Georgieva said that timely and targeted fiscal measures have helped protect jobs, while equitable tax reforms have helped maintain debt sustainability.
“The Fund is committed to helping the authorities in these efforts to contain the economic and financial impact of the pandemic and build a stronger and more resilient economy,” she said.
The IMF staff and Jordan reached staff-level-agreement on the second review under the Extended Fund Facility, on March 30.
This agreement includes supporting the authorities’ request for an additional $200 million , which would raise Jordan’s access to IMF resources to around $1.95 billion over 2020-24,  Georgieva explained.
At the same time, a sizable monetary stimulus has supported the recovery from the pandemic, while financial stability and adequate reserve buffers have been preserved, she added.