Pandemic destroys hopes for French economy rebound

Pandemic destroys hopes for French economy rebound
People enjoy a sunny spring day in the Tuileries garden in Paris, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, on March 31, 2021. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 05 April 2021

Pandemic destroys hopes for French economy rebound

Pandemic destroys hopes for French economy rebound
  • Economic growth is now likely to come in at 5 percent this year and not 6 percent as believed earlier

PARIS: The French government’s deficit will deepen and public debt rise after a lingering coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis smashed hopes of a rapid economic rebound, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Sunday. The annual deficit, which has spiraled as President Emmanuel Macron’s government tries to prop up the struggling economy with massive spending, is now expected to reach 9 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021, he told reporters.

This compares to an 8.5 percent estimate included in the government’s 2021 budget plan, and a 3 percent deficit limit EU members must usually respect but have swept aside as they deal with COVID-19. The minister had already told Sunday paper JDD that economic growth was now likely to come in at 5 percent this year and not 6 percent as believed earlier. The government, last week, extended virus restrictions to cover the entire country and said they would remain in place for at least a month.

“These measures will affect the French economy,” Le Maire said.

France’s debt level was now likely to hit 118 percent of the GDP this year, Le Maire told the Grand Jury LCI-RTL-Le Figaro TV program, up from an earlier 115 percent estimate and around double the EU’s 60-percent debt ceiling.

The minister called the new forecasts “exact and sincere.”

France is going through a third wave of the pandemic, which has seen daily new cases surge to 40,000, around double their level a month ago. Le Maire also said he had reached an outline agreement with the European Commission allowing France to pay more aid to flagship carrier Air France which has been struggling due to COVID-19 restrictions along with the rest of the world’s airlines.

In return, Air France would have to give up some slots at Orly, Paris’ second-busiest airport after Charles de Gaulle, he said.

The sums involved would be discussed with the carrier, which was expected to vote on the deal at a board meeting Monday, Le Maire said. Rival airline Ryanair has lambasted French state aid for Air France, saying it distorts competition.

Although the Irish airline lost its legal case against state aid for the French carrier, it has argued that any additional help should be made contingent on Air France giving up airport capacity.


Saudi National Development Fund targets infrastructure projects

Saudi National Development Fund targets infrastructure projects
Updated 15 June 2021

Saudi National Development Fund targets infrastructure projects

Saudi National Development Fund targets infrastructure projects
  • The capital of the new fund could "reach several billion royals"

RIYADH: The Saudi National Development Fund is preparing to launch a new fund targeting infrastructure projects in the Kingdom.
The capital of the new fund could "reach several billion royals", Asharq Business reported, citing unidentified sources.
Muhammad bin Mazyad Al-Tuwaijri, deputy chairman of the National Development Fund said in February that the Kingdom had started to work  on the launch of an infrastructure fund.
Saudi Arabia launched an ambitious SR12 trillion ($3.2 trillion) program in March to boost the role of the private sector in diversifying the economy.
Under the 'Shareek program', private sector businesses will be helped to invest SR5 trillion between now and 2030, along with SR3 trillion from the country's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), and SR4 trillion as part of a new national investment strategy.

 


Omani Octal said to weigh $800m majority stake sale

Omani Octal said to weigh $800m majority stake sale
Updated 15 June 2021

Omani Octal said to weigh $800m majority stake sale

Omani Octal said to weigh $800m majority stake sale
  • A sale could value Octal at about $800 million

RIYADH: Octal, an Omani plastics packaging manufacturer, is considering a majority stake sale, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter.
A sale could value Octal at about $800 million, one of the people said. The company is working with JPMorgan Chase & Co., the people said, asking not to be identified for information confidentiality.  
The Muscat-based company has already attracted strategic suitors in Asia and the US, they said.
Octal was founded in 2006 and produces plastic used to package food and consumer products. The company is present in Oman, Saudi Arabia and the US and ships its products to more than 75 countries, according to its website.
The potential sale would add to the $96 billion of deals targeting companies in the Middle East and Africa this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.


Egypt clothing exports hit by surging shipping costs

Egypt clothing exports hit by surging shipping costs
Updated 15 June 2021

Egypt clothing exports hit by surging shipping costs

Egypt clothing exports hit by surging shipping costs
  • Rising container costs are affecting both their imports of raw material as well as their export of finished garments according to Mohamed Kassem

RIYADH: Egyptian clothing manufacturers are being hammered by surging shipping costs.

Rising container costs are affecting both their imports of raw material as well as their export of finished garments according to Mohamed Kassem, a member of the Egyptian Exporters Association.

Fabrics from China account for most of the country’s clothing exports, he told Al Arabiya.
The cost of shipping a 40-feet container from Shanghai to an Egyptian port has rocketed to as much as $14,000 compared to $2,500 before the pandemic, he said.
That has led to increased competitive pressures for Egyptian textiles exporters from rivals in Asia.
He called on the state to intervene to help support the industry.


Indian shares close at record highs as pandemic curbs ease, cases fall

Indian shares close at record highs as pandemic curbs ease, cases fall
Updated 15 June 2021

Indian shares close at record highs as pandemic curbs ease, cases fall

Indian shares close at record highs as pandemic curbs ease, cases fall
  • Many Indian states eased coronavirus restrictions on Monday, including the national capital New Delhi, where authorities allowed shops and malls to open as the number of new cases dropped to the lowest in more than two months

BENGALURU: ndian shares ended at record highs on Tuesday, as declining COVID-19 infections prompted many states to re-open businesses, with a rally in broader markets also helping the sentiment.
The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index rose 0.36 percent to 15,869.25 and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex climbed 0.42 percent to 52,773.05 at close.
Many Indian states eased coronavirus restrictions on Monday, including the national capital New Delhi, where authorities allowed shops and malls to open as the number of new cases dropped to the lowest in more than two months.
India on Tuesday reported 60,471 new infections, the lowest since March 31.
The sentiment also tracked global stocks that hit a record high, as investors bet likely “transitory” inflation pressures will restrain the US Federal Reserve from signalling a shift in policy settings.
Many investors expect the Fed to maintain its dovish stance at its two-day meeting starting on Tuesday. Some board members, however, have said the central bank should start discussing tapering its bond buying.
In Mumbai trading, financial stocks provided a boost to the Nifty 50, with ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank ending 1.6 percent and 0.7 percent higher, respectively.
The Nifty Bank Index and the Nifty Private Bank Index, which have so far gained more than 0.55 percent this week, were among the top performers across sub-indexes rising between 0.85 percent and 1.07 percent.
Software services firm Infosys rose 0.8 percent, lifting the Nifty IT index by 0.23 percent.
Shares of Future Retail closed 10 percent higher, after staying at those levels since early trade.


Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills ready to open biggest water park in Jordan

Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills ready to open biggest water park in Jordan
Updated 15 June 2021

Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills ready to open biggest water park in Jordan

Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills ready to open biggest water park in Jordan
  • It will open on July 3
  • The park was developed by Abu Dhabi-headquartered Eagle Hills, one of the largest developers in Jordan

DUBAI: The Saraya Aqaba Waterpark – billed as the biggest in Jordan – is opening its doors on July 3.
Located in the country’s only coastal city, Aqaba, the park spans an area of more than 28,500 square meters. It has rides, slides, as well as food and beverage stalls.
“At Saraya Aqaba Waterpark, guests from all around the world are in for an aquatic adventure like no other with slides, rides and experiences suitable for guests of all ages,” Chris Van Der Merwe, its general manager said in a statement.
The park was developed by Abu Dhabi-headquartered Eagle Hills, one of the largest developers in Jordan, and is operated by Abu Dhabi-based Farah Experience, which also handles Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
Theme parks and other physical attractions have taken a hit when the pandemic forced countries to restrict people’s mobility, however some are now welcoming guests again as attractions make a gradual return.