GCC nations, UK in talks to bolster ties with free trade deal

GCC nations, UK in talks to bolster ties with free trade deal
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Updated 09 October 2021

GCC nations, UK in talks to bolster ties with free trade deal

GCC nations, UK in talks to bolster ties with free trade deal
  • Trade between the UK and the GCC topped $41 billion in 2020

MANAMA: The UK and the six Gulf Cooperation Council states have begun preliminary talks on a free-trade agreement, Bahrain said, as London seeks to bolster its trade position post-Brexit.

“It brings me great joy and pleasure to officially announce the official launch of FTA negotiations between GCC countries and UK today,” Zayed bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Bahrain’s minister of industry, commerce and tourism, said late Friday.

It is an “initiative that we have worked tirelessly on realizing since the kingdom of Bahrain's assumption of the GCC presidency at the beginning of this year,” said Al-Zayani.

The UK already enjoys strong economic links with the GCC nations of the GCC, comprised of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.

“We shall collectively embark on a new chapter, which will solidify our long standing trade and investment cooperation and build upon the strong foundations forged over the past centuries,” Zayani said.

Trade between the UK and the Gulf nations topped £30 billion ($41 billion) in 2020, according to the British government.

“A trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council is a huge opportunity to liberalize trade with a growing market for British business and deepen ties with a region that is vital to our strategic interests,” said International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

“We want a modern, comprehensive agreement that breaks down trade barriers to a huge food and drink market and in areas like digital trade and renewable energy which will deliver well-paid jobs in all parts of the UK,” she said in a statement.

Friday's talks marked the launch of what the UK government has termed a “14-week consultation calling for the public and business to share their views ahead of negotiations starting in 2022.”

Since its exit from the EU, London has sought to bolster trade ties with partners including the US, Australia and hydrocarbon-rich Gulf countries.


Egypt lowers its expected GDP growth to 4.5%

Egypt lowers its expected GDP growth to 4.5%
Updated 10 sec ago

Egypt lowers its expected GDP growth to 4.5%

Egypt lowers its expected GDP growth to 4.5%

CAIRO:Egypt has lowered its expected gross domestic product economic growth in the next fiscal year 2022/23, which begins in July, to 4.5 percent from 5.5 percent, a cabinet statement quoted the prime minister as saying on Monday.

Mostafa Madbouly was speaking during a meeting with an American businesses delegation organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, the statement said.

In March, Egypt lowered the targeted real GDP growth for its upcoming fiscal year to 5.5 percent, citing the effects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on its economy.


Bahrain state oil firm to appoint financial adviser, CEO says

Bahrain state oil firm to appoint financial adviser, CEO says
Updated 9 min 8 sec ago

Bahrain state oil firm to appoint financial adviser, CEO says

Bahrain state oil firm to appoint financial adviser, CEO says

Bahrain’s state oil firm nogaholding is in final talks to appoint a strategy consultant and financial adviser, its chief executive said on Monday, as the indebted country seeks to capitalize on high energy prices and sell or lease out assets.

Nogaholding, the parent of Bahrain’s main state energy companies, issued a request for proposal for an independent financial adviser last week and expects to award it in roughly eight weeks’s time, group CEO Mark Thomas told Reuters.

The aim is to develop an energy strategy within six months and an asset monetization program as soon as next year, he said.

“The independent financial adviser will be looking at asset monetization, our debt and our structure of our debt, looking at opportunities where we can use alternative forms of financing like sustainability-linked loans,” Thomas said.

The adviser will also help nogaholding with a possible national hedging strategy, in coordination with the finance ministry, to protect on the downside and unlock any upside, he added.

“We’ve got very attractive oil prices right now. We generally run a budget, a national budget, at an oil figure of $60-$65” per barrel to break even, he said. 

The strategy consultant, for which an RFP was issued in December, is expected to complete early in the fourth quarter a national energy strategy, a nogaholding operating strategy and a carbon strategy aligned with Bahrain’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2060.

Nogaholding will follow a monetization model similar to regional energy heavyweights Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., Thomas said.


Saudi Arabia extends duration of 2018 deposit at central bank of Yemen

Saudi Arabia extends duration of 2018 deposit at central bank of Yemen
Updated 13 min 29 sec ago

Saudi Arabia extends duration of 2018 deposit at central bank of Yemen

Saudi Arabia extends duration of 2018 deposit at central bank of Yemen
  • Al-Rasheed stressed that the agreement is an extension of the Kingdom's support to the people of Yemen
  • He added that the support will enhance the financial and economic situation in Yemen

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Yemen have signed an agreement to extend the duration of the Kingdom’s 2018 deposit at Yemen’s Central Bank, Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday.

Saudi Arabia’s Assistant Minister for Macro Fiscal Policies and International Relations, Abdulaziz Al-Rasheed, and the central bank of Yemen’s governor Ahmed bin Ahmed Ghaleb signed the agreement in Riyadh.

Al-Rasheed stressed that the agreement is an extension of the Kingdom's support to the people of Yemen.

He added that the support will improve the financial and economic situation in Yemen, especially the exchange rate of the Yemeni riyal, which will have a positive effect on the living conditions of Yemenis.

The two officials also discussed a deposit that was announced in April 2022.


Oil prices rise on China demand optimism, gasoline strength

Oil prices rise on China demand optimism, gasoline strength
Updated 28 min 57 sec ago

Oil prices rise on China demand optimism, gasoline strength

Oil prices rise on China demand optimism, gasoline strength

NEW YORK: Oil prices rose on Monday on optimism that China would see significant demand recovery after positive signs that coronavirus pandemic was receding in the hardest-hit areas.

Brent crude rose $1.34, or 1.2 percent, at $112.89 a barrel at 12:10 p.m. EDT (1710 EDT) 1342 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude rose $2.22, or less than 0.1 percent, to $112.71 a barrel.

Shanghai aims to reopen broadly and allow normal life to resume for the city’s 25 million people from June 1, a city official said on Monday, after declaring that 15 of its 16 districts had eliminated cases outside quarantine areas.

However, it is estimated that 46 cities in China are under lockdowns, hitting shopping, factory output and energy usage.

“We are seeing a lot of signals that demand will start returning in that region, supporting higher prices,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho.

In line with the unexpected industrial output decline, China processed 11 percent less crude oil in April, with daily throughput the lowest since March 2020.

US gasoline futures set an all-time high again on Monday as falling stockpiles fueled supply concerns.

“Oil prices will remain bullish, especially WTI’s near-term contract, as US gasoline prices continued to rise amid weaker imports of petroleum products from Europe,” said Kazuhiko Saito, chief analyst at Fujitomi Securities.

Oil prices also found some support as the EU’s diplomats and officials expressed optimism about reaching a deal on a phased embargo of Russian oil despite concerns about supply in eastern Europe.

Austria expects the EU to agree on the sanctions in the coming days, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said on Monday.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the bloc would need a few more days to find agreement.

“With a planned ban by the EU on Russian oil and slow increase in OPEC output, oil prices are expected to stay close to the current levels near $110 a barrel,” said Naohiro Niimura, a partner at Market Risk Advisory. 


Saudi-Thai MoUs to boost two-way trade, investment opportunities

Saudi-Thai MoUs to boost two-way trade, investment opportunities
Updated 16 May 2022

Saudi-Thai MoUs to boost two-way trade, investment opportunities

Saudi-Thai MoUs to boost two-way trade, investment opportunities

RIYADH: Five memorandums of understanding were signed on the sidelines of the Saudi-Thai Investment Forum in Riyadh on Monday. 

The first MoU was signed between the Saudi Federation of Chamber and the Board of Trade of Thailand to explore investment opportunities in the private sector. 

The second MoU signed between the Saudi Ministry of Investment and Gulf Energy Development Public Co. aims at evaluating and exploring investment opportunities in the field of petrochemicals industries. 

The third deal between the Diriyah Gate Development Authority and Minor Group aims to launch multiple hotels in the region. 

The fourth MoU between the Saudi Investment Ministry and Indorama Ventures is aimed at exploring petrochemical and conversion opportunities such as polymers, and fiber surfactants. 

The fifth deal was signed between the Saudi Ministry of Investment and SCG and Dusit International. This deal is aimed at increasing foreign direct investments in Saudi Arabia.