Egypt to implement new import rules in March, central bank chief says

Egypt has struggled to contain a rising import bill and a current account deficit that widened to $18.4 billion in the 2020/21 financial year from $11.4 billion the previous year. 
Egypt has struggled to contain a rising import bill and a current account deficit that widened to $18.4 billion in the 2020/21 financial year from $11.4 billion the previous year. 
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Updated 15 February 2022

Egypt to implement new import rules in March, central bank chief says

Egypt to implement new import rules in March, central bank chief says

CAIRO: Egypt’s central bank governor has said new rules requiring importers to use letters of credit will be implemented in March despite complaints from business groups and traders that the measure could inflate their costs.

Tarek Amer urged businessmen to “reconcile their situations and not waste time in controversies that have no relation to the stability of Egypt’s foreign trade and its sound performance,” according to a statement carried by state news agency MENA.
The statement followed instructions from the central bank that were circulated by traders and reported by local media instructing banks to only accept letters of credit from importers.

Importers are currently able to use a cash-against-documents system that traders say requires less payment in advance.
A group of trade and business associations had complained in a letter to the prime minister on Monday that the new rules could exacerbate supply chain problems, damage competitiveness and delay import shipments.

Egypt has struggled to contain a rising import bill and a current account deficit that widened to $18.4 billion in the 2020/21 financial year from $11.4 billion the previous year. 


Oil Updates — Crude steady; Chevron raises 2023 project spending budget to $17bn

Oil Updates — Crude steady; Chevron raises 2023 project spending budget to $17bn
Updated 16 sec ago

Oil Updates — Crude steady; Chevron raises 2023 project spending budget to $17bn

Oil Updates — Crude steady; Chevron raises 2023 project spending budget to $17bn

RIYADH: Oil prices steadied in early Asian trade on Thursday after sinking to their lowest level this year as US production and gasoline inventories ticked up at the same time concerns grew that economic slowdowns would weaken fuel demand.

Brent crude futures were up 67 cents or 0.87 percent at $77.84 per barrel by 08.10 a.m. Saudi time, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures gained 73 cents or 1.01 percent to $72.74 per barrel.

Brent had settled on Wednesday below the year’s previous closing low touched on the first day of 2022, while US West Texas Intermediate crude had fallen to a fresh yearly low.

Chevron raises 2023 project spending budget to $17 billion

Chevron Corp. on Wednesday said it increased its 2023 capital spending budget by a double-digit percentage from this year to $17 billion, as inflation drives up energy production costs and the firm pours cash into low-carbon fuel projects.

Like other US energy companies that profited from this year’s rise in fuel prices, Chevron faces mounting pressure from the White House to invest more in fossil fuel supplies. The company is also preparing to expand operations in Venezuela.

Chevron indicated it will keep spending within a $15 billion to $17 billion range, despite this year’s surge in oil prices that generated all-time high profits and allowed for record amounts of cash distributions to shareholders.

“We’re maintaining capital discipline while investing to grow both traditional and new energy supplies,” said Chevron CEO Michael Wirth.

US tells Turkiye no need for additional checks on oil tankers

US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal in a call on Wednesday that the price cap on Russian oil does not necessitate additional checks on ships passing through Turkish territorial waters, the US Treasury Department said.

A Turkish measure in force since the start of the month has caused a logjam by requiring vessels to provide proof they have insurance covering the duration of their transit through the Bosphorus strait or when calling at Turkish ports.

 


Pentagon splits $9 billion cloud contract between 4 firms

Pentagon splits $9 billion cloud contract between 4 firms
Updated 08 December 2022

Pentagon splits $9 billion cloud contract between 4 firms

Pentagon splits $9 billion cloud contract between 4 firms

WASHINGTON: Google, Oracle, Microsoft and Amazon will share in the Pentagon’s $9 billion contract to build its cloud computing network, a year after accusations of politicization over the previously announced contract and a protracted legal battle resulted in the military starting over in its award process.
The Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability is envisioned to provide access to unclassified, secret and top-secret data to military personnel all over the globe. It is anticipated to serve as a backbone for the Pentagon’s modern war operations, which will rely heavily on unmanned aircraft and space communications satellites, but will still need a way to quickly get the intelligence from those platforms to troops on the ground.
The contract will be awarded in parts, with a total estimated completion date of June 2028, the Pentagon said in a statement.
Competition is intense to snap up big corporate and government cloud contracts — awards to build global computing networks where information is stored, shared and secured over the Internet instead of on local computer systems. The Pentagon’s award is seen as one of the most coveted because it’s a stamp of approval in a market where ensuring a client’s data security is important.
“It’s the most important cloud deal to come out of the Beltway,” said analyst Daniel Ives, who monitors the cloud industry for Wedbush Securities. “It’s about the Pentagon as a reference customer. It says significant accolades about what they think about that vendor, and that’s the best reference customer you could have in that world.”
Last July, the Pentagon announced it was canceling its previous cloud computing award, then named JEDI. At the time, the Pentagon said that due to delays in proceeding with the contract, technology had changed to the extent that the old contract, which was awarded to Microsoft, no longer met DOD’s needs.
It did not mention the legal challenges behind those delays, which had come from Amazon, the losing bidder. Amazon had questioned whether former President Donald Trump’s administration had steered the contract toward Microsoft due to Trump’s adversarial relationship with Amazon’s chief executive officer at the time, Jeff Bezos.
In July when the cancelation was announced, the Pentagon’s chief information officer, John Sherman, said it was “likely” both Amazon and Microsoft would get some portion of the business in a new award.
A report by the Pentagon’s inspector general did not find evidence of improper influence, but it said it could not determine the extent of administration interactions with Pentagon decision-makers because the White House would not allow unfettered access to witnesses.
Forrester analyst Devin Dickerson said awarding the contract to four companies instead of one shows a “multicloud strategy” that could improve the Pentagon’s bargaining position with major cloud providers and make it easier for individual offices within the Defense Department to acquire cloud technologies and services.


Saudi finances are in good shape, says central bank’s governor

Saudi finances are in good shape, says central bank’s governor
Updated 08 December 2022

Saudi finances are in good shape, says central bank’s governor

Saudi finances are in good shape, says central bank’s governor
  • The Saudi Central Bank will continue to manage its foreign-exchange reserves based on ‘balanced investment policies,’ Fahad Almubarak added
  • Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said a predicted SR16 billion surplus reflects shrewd past investments by the Kingdom in its oil and gas sector

RIYADH: Monetary conditions in Saudi Arabia are reassuring, thanks to prudent monetary policies, and the country’s banking sector continues to enjoy good levels of liquidity, the governor of the Saudi Central Bank said on Wednesday.

Fahad Almubarak said the bank would continue to manage its foreign-exchange reserves based on “balanced investment policies.”

He added: “Despite the exceptional circumstances in the Kingdom and the world, the Saudi economy … has proven a high ability to withstand shocks. Monetary conditions in the Kingdom are reassuring as a result of the central bank’s prudent monetary policy.”

Almubarak commended the banking sector for “its financial solvency, operational efficiency, good liquidity, and ability to face current challenges.”

His comments followed the approval of the state budget for the coming fiscal year, which forecasts a surplus of SR16 billion ($4.3 billion) and gross domestic product growth of 3.1 percent, the finance ministry said.

During a media briefing in Riyadh on Wednesday, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said the predicted surplus reflects prior investments the Kingdom made in its oil and gas sector, as well as growth in non-oil sectors as officials implement the country’s Vision 2030 agenda for economic diversification.

“We invested a lot of money when people did not,” he said. “We are not celebrating the surplus; for us it’s not really big news, it’s something that we expected. We’ve been working … to curtail our spending, to increase our non-oil revenues.”

He added that “difficult decisions” that were taken are unlikely to be reversed based on a surplus this year and the expected surplus next year.

“The last thing we want is actually to change policies in haste,” he said.

The surplus will be distributed during the first quarter of 2023, with the bulk of it being used to increase the Kingdom’s reserves, Al-Jadaan said. Some will go to the National Development Fund and some “may be” transferred to the sovereign wealth fund, he added. He also said that the 2023 budget forecasts SR259 billion of military spending.

“We listened to the blessing of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques of announcing the budget in the cabinet session, which took into account the rapid growth that the Kingdom has been witnessing and the achievement of many targets under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030,” he said in comments broadcast on Al-Ekhbariya TV.

(With Reuters and AFP)


Electric vehicles emerge as key driver of Saudi-China climate-change fight

Electric vehicles emerge as key driver of Saudi-China climate-change fight
Updated 08 December 2022

Electric vehicles emerge as key driver of Saudi-China climate-change fight

Electric vehicles emerge as key driver of Saudi-China climate-change fight
  • China is the world’s largest market for EVs, accounting for 53 percent of the global share 
  • Saudi Arabia has launched its own EV brand, Ceer, and owns a stake in US maker Lucid

RIYADH: China and Saudi Arabia are two of the energy powerhouses of the world and, as such, the world’s gaze turns to them in discussions around climate change.

While much of the focus is on the Kingdom’s oil production, or Beijing’s coal-mining activities, the two nations are only just starting to get recognition for their shared vision for decarbonization via electric vehicles.

This is an area of shared enthusiasm, and one where Saudi Arabia and China can further work together to lead innovation and implementation.

For its part, Saudi Arabia has handed the EV industry a prominent role in its economic diversification plan known as Vision 2030.

Tesla cars at a charging station in Beijing, main, and, below, a Lucid luxury electric vehicle on display. (AFP)

The world’s largest oil exporter has identified the sector as one on the cusp of a boom as the globe moves away from fossil fuels, and is investing not just in overseas firms, but also in homegrown products.

The overseas backing takes the form of the US-firm Lucid. In 2018, the Public Investment Fund poured $1billion into the company and now has a 60 percent stake. The investment prompted Lucid to announce in February 2022, that it would build its first international vehicle assembly plant in King Abdullah Economic City, north of Jeddah. 
To further underline its commitment to the sector, the Saudi government struck a deal with Lucid to buy up to 100,000 EVs over a 10-year period.

It is not just Lucid that will be producing EVs in the Kingdom. In October, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled Saudi Arabia’s own EV brand: Ceer.

Lithium batteries for electric vehicles on the inspection line at a factory in Nanjing in China’s eastern Jiangsu province. (AFP)

Like Lucid, this company will produce vehicles from a plant in KAEC, with construction on the $69 million facility due to begin in early 2023.

Ceer is a joint venture with FoxConn — the Taiwan-based firm that is the largest private sector employer in China — and will further cement the ties between Saudi Arabia and the economies of the Far East.

Ceer will license component technology from BMW to design and build vehicles, including sedans and sport utility vehicles, in the Kingdom while Foxconn will develop the electrical architecture of the vehicles, resulting in a portfolio of products that will lead in infotainment, connectivity and autonomous driving technologies.

Of course, the Kingdom is not turning itself into one of the leading EV producers in the world just to appease its domestic market. Exporting these vehicles is a key part of not just Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification strategy but in reducing global emissions.

Penetrating the Chinese market could prove a challenge. Beijing has been encouraging its citizens to switch to EVs by offering subsidies for purchases. This has helped China become the largest market for EVs, accounting for 53 percent of the global share.

US-based Lucid is planning to build its first overseas vehicle assembly plant north of Jeddah. (AFP)

The Chinese government forecasts that EVs will account for 50 percent of all new car sales in the country by 2035, suggesting the appetite for such vehicles will continue to be high.

Yet while firms such as Tesla are doing well in the market — selling 83,135 cars in September in what was its best month for sales in the country — China has a thriving production sector, meaning the reliance on imports is low.

However, as is the case in many countries, one of the main barriers for mass take-up of EVs is higher purchase price than for petrol vehicles.

Saudi Arabia could find itself in a position to use its growing EV production hub being built just north of Jeddah to make affordable vehicles for what is the largest market in the world.

Should it crack that nut, the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goal of raising non-oil exports to 50 percent of GDP looks eminently reachable.


DP World Logistics opens 6,000-sq. m. warehouse in Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone

DP World Logistics opens 6,000-sq. m. warehouse in Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone
Updated 08 December 2022

DP World Logistics opens 6,000-sq. m. warehouse in Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone

DP World Logistics opens 6,000-sq. m. warehouse in Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone
  • The company said the storage facility has a monthly capacity of 6,000 twenty-foot equivalent units

DUBAI: DP World Logistics in Dubai has opened a 6,000-square-meter high-end warehouse offering new storage solutions at Jebel Ali Free Zone, the Emirates News Agency reported.

The facility has 12,500 pallet positions and can accommodate cargo up to 18 meters high using Very Narrow Aisle racking systems, the company said, and a monthly capacity of 6,000 twenty-foot equivalent units.

DP World Logistics highlighted its advantageous location in what it described as one of the world’s fastest-developing regions and said that it is able to leverage the capabilities and cutting-edge IT platforms of its parent company, DP World, to ensure goods are stored, distributed and delivered efficiently through a multimodal transportation model that combines port, shipping line, sea freight, air freight and trucking solutions.

The company said it offers container freight station operations, warehousing and supply chain solutions, and freight-forwarding operations from six facilities in Jebel Ali and its assets include extensive yard operations, cross-dock warehousing, and cold storage and cool storage solutions.

“As part of DP World, a global smart-trade enabler, DP World Logistics is continually on a journey of business transformation, with new product innovations and developments,” said Abdulla bin Damithan, the CEO of DP World UAE and Jafza.

“Our shared commitment to improve end-to-end logistics performance in moving cargo around the world, underpinned by innovations in logistics-led solutions, has maximized opportunities for our customers over the years.

“The new CFS 2 warehouse is yet another step in supporting our customers better, helping them explore varied business opportunities and move forward with tremendous growth potential in the region. As a reliable, trustworthy and time-bound logistics partner, we will continue creating a complete end-to-end logistics trade journey from and to high-growth markets for our clients.”