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)
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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.


Emirates NBD, Etihad Credit Insurance ink deal to ease trade finance access for UAE businesses

Emirates NBD, Etihad Credit Insurance ink deal to ease trade finance access for UAE businesses
Updated 33 min 46 sec ago

Emirates NBD, Etihad Credit Insurance ink deal to ease trade finance access for UAE businesses

Emirates NBD, Etihad Credit Insurance ink deal to ease trade finance access for UAE businesses
  • The deal will help the UAE lender to reduce any risks that may be associated with credit facilities

DUBAI: UAE export credit company, Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), has signed an agreement with Emirates NBD to improve liquidity of UAE exporters by easing their access to credit facilities.
The deal will help the UAE lender to reduce any risks that may be associated with credit facilities, so businesses can pursue export and expansion opportunities, according to a joint statement.
More than 80 per cent of world trade relies on trade finance, ECI’s chief Massimo Falcioni said, and the agreement will allow Emirates NBD to offer innovative financial solutions to their clients.
Governments in the Gulf have been investing in strengthening local businesses as a strategy to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and to gradually veer away from oil-dependence.


Italian fashion brand Diesel launches online shopping platform in KSA, UAE

Italian fashion brand Diesel launches online shopping platform in KSA, UAE
Updated 37 min 58 sec ago

Italian fashion brand Diesel launches online shopping platform in KSA, UAE

Italian fashion brand Diesel launches online shopping platform in KSA, UAE
  • The website will feature new collections of the fashion line, as well as exclusive deals for online shoppers

DUBAI: Italian fashion retailer Diesel has launched its own e-commerce platform for customers in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the company said on Sunday.
The website will feature new collections of the fashion line, as well as exclusive deals for online shoppers. It will also offer free shipping for customers in both countries.
Diesel has been in the market for four decades and is known for its denim and casual fashion offerings.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created huge demand for online shopping in the Gulf, with many retailers accelerating their digital efforts to take advantage of it


Kuwaiti coffee delivery app raises $10m in new funding

Kuwaiti coffee delivery app raises $10m in new funding
Updated 36 min 1 sec ago

Kuwaiti coffee delivery app raises $10m in new funding

Kuwaiti coffee delivery app raises $10m in new funding
  • The funding was provided by Kuwaiti listed investment house Al Imtiaz Investment Group
  • COFE was conceived in 2017 by Kuwait-based founder Ali Al-Ebrahim, developed in Silicon Valley and launched in 2018

DUBAI: Kuwaiti coffee delivery app COFE has raised $10 million in new funding, which it aims to use to scale up its operations in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the UK and to expand into Egypt and Turkey.
The funding was provided by Kuwaiti listed investment house Al Imtiaz Investment Group. COFE was conceived in 2017 by Kuwait-based founder Ali Al-Ebrahim, developed in Silicon Valley and launched in 2018.
“From its early days, COFE has shown tremendous potential as a unique offering that caters to discerning coffee connoisseurs and their consumption habits, while helping to grow and transform revenue streams for vendors. Our partners have recognized this and are confident in our ability to serve existing customers and vendors, while expanding into new markets,” Al-Ebrahim said in a press statement.
Zev Siegl, a co-founder of international coffee chain Starbucks, is also an adviser to COFE. “I am happy to collaborate with the COFE App team and proud of the success and development they’ve achieved,” Siegl told the Mubasher website in April 2019. “During my stay in Kuwait, I visited more than 20 coffee shops and I was impressed by the high level of service, innovation and the high demand on coffee shops which ensure that the COFE app market will keep on growing and will reach the international market very soon.”


Israel and Greece sign record defense deal

Israel and Greece sign record defense deal
Updated 18 April 2021

Israel and Greece sign record defense deal

Israel and Greece sign record defense deal
  • The agreement includes a $1.65 billion contract for the establishment and operation of a training center for the Hellenic Air Force

JERUSALEM: Israel and Greece have signed their biggest ever defense procurement deal, which Israel said on Sunday would strengthen political and economic ties between the countries.
The agreement includes a $1.65 billion contract for the establishment and operation of a training center for the Hellenic Air Force by Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems over a 22-year period, Israel’s defense ministry said.
The training center will be modeled on Israel’s own flight academy and will be equipped with 10 M-346 training aircraft produced by Italian company Leonardo, the ministry said.
Elbit will supply kits to upgrade and operate Greece’s T-6 aircraft and also provide training, simulators and logistical support.
“I am certain that (this program) will upgrade the capabilities and strengthen the economies of Israel and Greece and thus the partnership between our two countries will deepen on the defense, economic and political levels,” said Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz.
The announcement follows a meeting in Cyprus on Friday between the UAE, Greek, Cypriot and Israeli foreign ministers, who agreed to deepen cooperation between their countries.


Dubai Islamic Bank sees no impact from NMC law suit

Dubai Islamic Bank sees no impact from NMC law suit
Updated 18 April 2021

Dubai Islamic Bank sees no impact from NMC law suit

Dubai Islamic Bank sees no impact from NMC law suit
  • Last week it emerged that NMC was suing a Dubai bank in the Abu Dhabi courts in a dispute that could complicate the company’s multi-billion-dollar debt restructuring

DUBAI: Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) said on Sunday it does not expect any “negative impact” from a case against it brought by the administrators of hospital operator NMC Group.
It made the disclosure in a letter to the Dubai Financial Market posted on the website of the bourse.
Last week it emerged that NMC was suing a Dubai bank in the Abu Dhabi courts in a dispute that could complicate the company’s multi-billion-dollar debt restructuring and potentially delay payouts to creditors, Reuters reported.
It was the latest twist in the tale of the UAE ‘s biggest hospital group which last year disclosed more than $4 billion in hidden debt. Its UAE operations were placed into administration and creditor claims are understood to now exceed $6.4 billion.
“It is a matter of public record that an application has been filed by the administrators of the NMC Group in the Abu Dhabi Global Markets Court, in which Dubai Islamic Bank and 12 insurance companies and third party service providers are respondents,” DIB CEO Hassan Al-Serkal said in the statement to the Dubai financial Market, where it’s shares are listed. “DIB does not anticipate any material negative impact arising from this application. As this is an ongoing legal matter, we can comment further at this time.”