UK targets Gulf states for post-Brexit trade deal

UK targets Gulf states for post-Brexit trade deal
UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss says the Gulf is an area for potential trade with post Brexit Britain. (File/AFP)
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Updated 27 May 2021

UK targets Gulf states for post-Brexit trade deal

UK targets Gulf states for post-Brexit trade deal
  • Gulf Cooperation Council among Britain’s top trading partners
  • International trade secretary: ‘We are in discussions with the GCC and I hope that we’ll be able to say more about that soon’

LONDON: The UK has its sights set on trade deals with the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), according to International Trade Secretary Liz Truss.

“The Gulf is a definite target and we are working on the approach to (the) Gulf,” Truss told the Daily Telegraph.

“We are in discussions with the GCC and I hope that we’ll be able to say more about that soon.”

The GCC — comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar — makes up a significant proportion of Britain’s international trade.

In 2019, the UK’s trade with the six Gulf states was worth around $63.5 billion, putting the GCC behind only the US, China and the EU in value of trading partners.

Truss is also closing in on a potentially lucrative investment deal with Mubadala, the UAE’s sovereign wealth fund, which a source told the Daily Telegraph is “getting some real traction now” after a “couple of very big meetings.”

Mubadala is said to be targeting investment in the UK’s health, clean energy, infrastructure and technology sectors, in what could be a significant boost to Britain’s post-Brexit economy.

Since the UK’s decision to leave the EU was implemented at the beginning of this year, the country has been pushing hard for trade deals with its existing trade partners and allies.

Last year, the British government announced a review into UK-GCC trade, and said in a statement: “With the United Kingdom embarking on its new independent trade policy outside of the European Union, and with GCC Member States delivering their economic diversification and vision plans, now is the moment for the United Kingdom and the GCC to build on their historic and deep friendship to develop even closer economic ties, boosting our trade and investment further still.”

It added: “We celebrate the strength of the bilateral relationship, nowhere more apparent than through our continued collaboration on the Covid-19 pandemic, and share an ambition of boosting our businesses, delivering new investment, creating new jobs and ensuring prosperity in the years to come.”


Qatar wealth fund says no investment in cryptocurrencies until they mature

Qatar wealth fund says no investment in cryptocurrencies until they mature
Updated 24 min 51 sec ago

Qatar wealth fund says no investment in cryptocurrencies until they mature

Qatar wealth fund says no investment in cryptocurrencies until they mature
  • Crypto currencies are currently too volatile, QIA CEO says
  • QIA seeks to boost investment in Asia and US

DOHA: Qatar’s wealth fund avoids investing in cryptocurrencies due to their extreme volatility, Bloomberg reported.

Cryptocurrencies “need a bit of maturity before we make our view about investing in that space,” QIA CEO Mansoor Bin Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud said at the Qatar Economic Forum.

Instead of crypto assets, the QIA will focus on continuing to boost investments in Asia and the US as it looks to balance out a concentration of European assets in its portfolio, Al-Mahmoud said.

The fund is also going to be investing more into warehouses in response to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on retail and office real estate, he said.

Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds with assets estimated at over $360 billion, according to Global SWF.

Bitcoin has lost more than 50 percent from its mid-April high of almost $65,000. The coin started 2021 trading around $29,000 following a fourfold increase in 2020. It bounced back on Wednesday after earlier whipsawing investors with a dip below the $30,000 level.

This year the fund will also look to formalize the process of factoring in environment, sustainability and governance (ESG) considerations into its investment criteria, the Al-Mahmoud said.

“We have been investing in ESG initiatives and projects for quite some time, and this year it will be institutionalized,” he said. “We will embed ESG into our investment process,” he said.


IMF approves one year $5.2bn stand-by arrangement for Egypt

IMF approves one year $5.2bn stand-by arrangement for Egypt
Updated 59 min 49 sec ago

IMF approves one year $5.2bn stand-by arrangement for Egypt

IMF approves one year $5.2bn stand-by arrangement for Egypt
  • IMF authorizes Egypt to withdraw $1.7bn after reform program review

RIYADH: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a 12-month stand-by arrangement for Egypt, with access equivalent to 3.76 billion Special Drawing Rights (SDR) equivalent to about $5.2 billion.

After a strong track record of successfully completing a home-grown economic reform program supported by the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility in 2016-2019, Egypt was one of the fastest growing emerging markets prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the IMF said in a statement on Wednesday.

The new arrangement aims to help Egypt cope with challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by providing IMF resources to meet Egypt’s balance of payments needs and to finance the budget deficit. It will be allowed to withdraw $1.7bn after its reform program has been reviewed.

“Over the past few years, Egypt saw strong growth, falling unemployment, moderate inflation, buildup of strong reserve buffers, and significant reduction in public debt,” said Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair Antoinette Sayeh.

Sayeh emphasized Egypt’s commitment to broaden and deepen structural reforms, and refocus to address the economic health crisis during the pandemic.


Egyptian president approves July pension and wage increases

Egyptian president approves July pension and wage increases
Updated 24 June 2021

Egyptian president approves July pension and wage increases

Egyptian president approves July pension and wage increases
  • Pensions to be raised 13 percent at cost of 31 billion Egyptian pounds
  • Minimum wage to rise from 2,400 Egyptian pounds from 2,000

RIYADH: Egypt’s official gazette published President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s decision to increase pensions as of the beginning of July, Al Arabiya reported.

Pensions will be raised 13 percent at a cost of 31 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.9 billion) and minimum monthly wages will be increased from 2,000 Egyptian pounds to 2,400 Egyptian pounds at a cost of 37 billion Egyptian pounds.

This decision will complete the total of the pension, subsidies and increases to minimum wages, local papers reported.

Egyptians’ salaries have jumped more than 240 times in about 41 years, according to data compiled by Al Arabiya.

Egypt’s budget, to be implemented in early July, also includes two bonuses at a cost of about 7.5 billion Egyptian pounds, and an increase in stimulus at a total cost of about 17 billion Egyptian pounds.


Reliance expects Aramco deal to formalize this year amid $10bn energy push

Reliance expects Aramco deal to formalize this year amid $10bn energy push
Employees work at the Reliance Industries Petrol pump in Navi Mumbai. (AFP)
Updated 18 min 46 sec ago

Reliance expects Aramco deal to formalize this year amid $10bn energy push

Reliance expects Aramco deal to formalize this year amid $10bn energy push
  • Plan to invest $10bn in a new energy business over three years
  • Reliance had announced a sale of a 20 percent stake in its oil-to-chemicals business for $15 billion in 2019 to Aramco

BENGALURU: Reliance Industries said on Thursday it hopes to formalize its partnership with Saudi Aramco this year and its Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan will join the Indian conglomerate’s board as an independent director.
“Al-Rumayyan joining our board is also the beginning of internationalization of Reliance,” Chairman Mukesh Ambani told shareholders on Thursday.
Reliance had announced a sale of a 20 percent stake in its oil-to-chemicals business for $15 billion in 2019 to Aramco, the world’s top oil exporting firm.
However, the deal stalled after oil prices and demand crashed last year due to the pandemic.
Separately, Reliance Industries said it would invest 750 billion Indian rupees ($10.10 billion) in a new energy business over the next three years, Ambani said.
Reliance will build solar manufacturing units, a battery factory for energy storage, a fuel cell-making factory and an electrolyzer unit to produce green hydrogen as a part of the business, Ambani said.
As a part of the new business — called the Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex — Reliance will also build solar capacities of at least 100 GW by 2030, Asia’s richest man told his shareholders at the meeting which was held virtually due to COVID-19.
That would account for over a fifth of India’s renewable energy target of installing 450 GW by 2030. India wants green energy sources to make up 40 percent of electricity generated by the end of this decade.


Cheap Dubai cost of living may attract rich expats, says Tellimer

Cheap Dubai cost of living may attract rich expats, says Tellimer
Updated 24 June 2021

Cheap Dubai cost of living may attract rich expats, says Tellimer

Cheap Dubai cost of living may attract rich expats, says Tellimer
  • Dubai cost of living is 20 percent below Singapore and Hong Kong

DUBAI: Cheaper Dubai property prices may attract rich expatriates who are affluent enough to move for lifestyle and wealth preservation reasons, Tellimer said.
Dubai has liberalized its visa regime, falls under the UAE’s Abraham Accords with Israel, and has maintained a globally rare sense of normality during the pandemic helped by an efficient vaccination program, the emerging markets research group noted.
The emirate, famed for its glitzy developments and lavish lifestyle, now has a cost of living that is 20 percent below Hong Kong and Singapore.


“The main driver of this competitiveness is residential property prices, which, since the start of 2015, are up 35 percent in Hong Kong, flat in Singapore, and down 30 percent in Dubai,” Tellimer said.
Since 2010, property rentals are down 45 percent and other items (groceries, transport, utilities) have fallen by 10 percent.
The emirate has relaxed its visa rules recently and has attracted an influx of so-called digital nomads and other investors.