WTO says goods trade surging past pre-pandemic level; raises forecasts

WTO says goods trade surging past pre-pandemic level; raises forecasts
The World Trade Organization, WTO or OMC, in Geneva, Switzerland.
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Updated 04 October 2021

WTO says goods trade surging past pre-pandemic level; raises forecasts

WTO says goods trade surging past pre-pandemic level; raises forecasts
  • The strong annual growth rate for merchandise trade in 2021 is mainly due to the collapse in 2020
  • They said the biggest downside risks came from the pandemic itself

A resurgence of global economic activity has lifted merchandise trade above its pre-pandemic peak, the World Trade Organization said Monday as it upgraded its 2021 and 2022 trade forecasts.


"The WTO is now predicting global merchandise trade volume growth of 10.8 percent in 2021 - up from 8.0 percent forecasted in March - followed by a 4.7 percent rise in 2022," up from four percent previously, the global trade body said.


The strong annual growth rate for merchandise trade in 2021 is mainly due to the collapse in 2020, when trade bottomed out in the second quarter.


The rate of growth is expected to moderate as merchandise trade returns to the long-term trend it was on before the Covid-19 crisis struck.


Supply-side issues such as semiconductor scarcity and port backlogs may strain supply chains, but are unlikely to have large impacts on global aggregates, WTO experts said.


They said the biggest downside risks came from the pandemic itself.


"Trade has been a critical tool in combatting the pandemic, and this strong growth underscores how important trade will be in underpinning the global economic recovery," said WTO director-general, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.


"But inequitable access to vaccines is exacerbating economic divergence across regions. The longer vaccine inequity is allowed to persist, the greater the chance that even more dangerous variants of Covid-19 will emerge, setting back the health and economic progress we have made to date."


While regions with access to Covid-19 jabs and sufficient fiscal space were recovering strongly, poorer regions with mostly unvaccinated populations are lagging behind, she said.


The WTO's 12th ministerial conference is to be held in Geneva from November 30 to December 3.


Okonjo-Iweala has said that one of her main objectives is to push long-blocked trade talks on fishery subsidies across the finish line.


The former Nigerian finance and foreign minister started her four-year term at the WTO helm in March. She dismissed as "fake news" reports that she was threatening to resign if no progress is made on major logjams at the global trade body.


Saudi SABIC, ExxonMobil begin operations of petrochemical JV on US Gulf Coast

Saudi SABIC, ExxonMobil begin operations of petrochemical JV on US Gulf Coast
Updated 20 January 2022

Saudi SABIC, ExxonMobil begin operations of petrochemical JV on US Gulf Coast

Saudi SABIC, ExxonMobil begin operations of petrochemical JV on US Gulf Coast

RIYADH: Riyadh-based Saudi Basic Industries, also known as SABIC, one of the leading petrochemical firms worldwide, announced the start of operations of its petrochemical joint venture with US ExxonMobil.

US Texas is to witness the launch of an ethylene production unit – operating an annual capacity of around 1.8 million tons, the homegrown petrochemical company said in a statement.

The new production unit, which started construction in 2019, will produce materials to be utilized in packaging, agricultural film, construction materials, clothing, and automotive coolants.

This project is in line with SABIC’s strategy, aimed at diversifying its feedstock as well as strengthening its position in North America.

“This is a remarkable achievement that positions us well to help meet growing global demand for performance products while providing meaningful investment in the US Gulf Coast,’ president of ExxonMobil Karen McKee said, commenting on the partnership.

SABIC noted that the deal’s financial impact is expected to roll out on the company’s financial statements during the ongoing quarter.

In the latest trading session, shares of the company edged down by 0.2 percent to close at SR126 ($33.6).


Mastercard, Coinbase partner to make NFTs more accessible

Mastercard, Coinbase partner to make NFTs more accessible
Updated 20 January 2022

Mastercard, Coinbase partner to make NFTs more accessible

Mastercard, Coinbase partner to make NFTs more accessible

RIYADH: Payments giant Mastercard has partnered with cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase to make non-fungible tokens more accessible.

Mastercards can be used to make purchases on Coinbase’s upcoming NFT marketplace.

“We’re excited to announce today that we’re partnering with Coinbase to let people use their Mastercard cards to make purchases on Coinbase’s upcoming NFT marketplace,” Mastercard said in a statement.

“Getting more people involved safely and securely is perhaps the best way to help the NFT market thrive.”

Mastercard also sees greater potential for core NFT technology to go beyond art and collectibles in many other areas.

Coinbase announced in October last year that it is launching an NFT marketplace.

“Coinbase NFT, as a peer-to-peer marketplace that will make minting, purchasing, showcasing and discovering NFTs easier than ever,” Coinbase said.

“We’re making NFTs more accessible by building user-friendly interfaces that put the complexity behind the scenes. We’re adding social features that open new avenues for conversation and discovery. And we’re going to grow the creator community exponentially, a win for artists and for fans.” 


Saudi Wafrah appoints Khaled Saleh Al Amoudi as CEO

Saudi Wafrah appoints Khaled Saleh Al Amoudi as CEO
Updated 20 January 2022

Saudi Wafrah appoints Khaled Saleh Al Amoudi as CEO

Saudi Wafrah appoints Khaled Saleh Al Amoudi as CEO

RIYADH: Saudi food firm Wafrah for Industry and Developments has appointed Khaled Saleh Al Amoudi as CEO on Thursday, according to a bourse statement. 

The decision follows recommendation from the Remuneration and Nomination Committee.

With a M.Sc.in Financial Management, Al Amoudi currently holds the chief financial officer position at the firm, with more than 20 years of accumulated experience as CFO and in the governmental and bank sectors.


Tadawul approves $755m government debt listing

Tadawul approves $755m government debt listing
Updated 20 January 2022

Tadawul approves $755m government debt listing

Tadawul approves $755m government debt listing

RIYADH: Saudi stock exchange Tadawul approved listing of SR2.83 billion ($755 million) worth of government debt instruments, submitted by the Ministry of Finance, according to a bourse filing.

The first issuance dated January 8, amounts to SR1.25 billion, Tadawul said in a statement.

The second issuance dated January 12, is valued at SR1.59 billion.


Profits of Saudi-based SADAFCO drop 28.6% as pandemic hits sales

Profits of Saudi-based SADAFCO drop 28.6% as pandemic hits sales
Updated 20 January 2022

Profits of Saudi-based SADAFCO drop 28.6% as pandemic hits sales

Profits of Saudi-based SADAFCO drop 28.6% as pandemic hits sales

RIYADH: Saudia Dairy and Foodstuff Co., or SADAFCO, reported a 28.6 percent decline in profit during the nine months ending Dec. 31, 2021. 

Profits dropped to SR146 million ($38.9million), compared to SR205 million in the corresponding period a year earlier, the company announced in a bourse statement.

SADAFCO attributed the lower profit figures to lower sales volumes driven by the pandemic, an increase from 5 percent to 15 percent in VAT, and higher material and logistics costs.

The financial statements of the company indicated a healthy cash flow, with a strong cash position of SR679 million.

SADACFO’s share price edged down by 0.12 percent in today’s session to close at SR167.

Earlier, the company’s board recommended cash dividends at SR3 per share for the first half of the fiscal year ended Mar. 31, 2022.

Jeddah-based SADAFCO operates sales and distribution depots in 24 locations across Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, and Kuwait. Its products are also exported to several countries in the MENA region.