Nigerian minister: We share ‘excellent relationship’ with Saudi Arabia

Nigerian Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment Mariam Yalwaji Katagum. (AN photo by Saad Soud Aldossari)
Nigerian Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment Mariam Yalwaji Katagum. (AN photo by Saad Soud Aldossari)
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Updated 29 March 2022

Nigerian minister: We share ‘excellent relationship’ with Saudi Arabia

Nigerian Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment Mariam Yalwaji Katagum. (AN photo by Saad Soud Aldossari)
  • GEC summit left attendees energized by global gathering of startup experts, says Mariam Yalwaji Katagum

RIYADH: Nigerian Minister of State for Industry, Trade, and Investment Mariam Yalwaji Katagum said on Monday that bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Nigeria are excellent, detailing how both countries support each other at international forums.

Katagum was in Riyadh for the Global Entrepreneurship Congress 2022. She praised the summit, saying it left attendees feeling energized and inspired by the extraordinary global gathering of startup champions and policymakers to help rebuild the post-pandemic global economy.

The GEC, being held under the patronage of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, kicked off on Sunday amid a boom for startups in the region, where several high-profile venture capital funds and angel investors are flocking to do business.




Nigerian Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment Mariam Yalwaji Katagum speaking to Arab News. (AN photo by Saad Soud Aldossari)

Running until March 30, the GEC focuses on making it easier for entrepreneurs to start and scale a business. Top CEOs and a successful star cast of serial businessmen are among the speakers to help steer entrepreneurs through the onslaught of the business and health issues that have impaired the global economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Katagum said: “I am here for the annual summit, where countries from around the world come to look at issues concerning entrepreneurship. We know the entrepreneurs, particularly the Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) are the engines of economic growth in every country, so it’s very important that we look at issues concerning the entrepreneurs, and how governments can help them.”

MSMEs are crucial for achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were launched in 2015 as a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

“This annual event is being held this year in Riyadh. There will be a lot of takeaways from this summit, so I expect people will go back to their countries and will begin to look at what are the areas that we need to improve upon, particularly in terms of networking,” said the Nigerian minister.

“Most of the startups are (launched by) young people who have a lot of creative energy. So we have to put in place policies and frameworks, including providing access to finance and market, because an entrepreneur could have all the ideas, but you need the right policy, on ground you need finance and also technology, and then, of course, access to the markets,” she added.

On her Riyadh visit, Katagum said: “In gathering like this … to share ideas and best practices, countries were able to indicate what it is that they are doing in terms of policy for entrepreneurship, what is the rule of technology, how can we assist and enable them to network with similar entrepreneurs, even large industries in other countries.”

Commenting on Saudi-Nigerian bilateral trade, she said: “We have an excellent relationship with Saudi Arabia. Nigeria has diversified away from oil and gas, so we are looking at agro products. Just last week, I inaugurated a technical committee to look at halal certification so that Nigeria has a lot to offer countries such as Saudi Arabia where halal food is consumed. We need to put in place the right certification so that our products are exported here.”

Commenting on changes since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, Katagum said “there has been improvement in e-commerce between the two countries. Now that our borders are opening, there will be a lot more commerce between us, at least we will have a lot of learning as to how Saudi Arabia is effectively utilizing gas, and now our focus is on non-oil products.”

She underlined that Saudi Arabia and Nigeria share good bilateral relations: “We have excellent bilateral relations between the two countries. At international fora, I know Saudi Arabia gives us all the support they can, and vice versa, Nigeria is always supporting Saudi Arabia.”

She added that in November last year, the Nigeria-Gulf Arab countries business council was inaugurated, including representation from all Arab countries.

Rather than having just a general business council, Katagum said that Lagos appointed Nigerian ministers responsible for certain critical sectors such as power, water, housing and agriculture at the Dubai expo. They gathered investors and subsequently started having sectoral meetings and deep dives to see the real interests of investing countries.

“Very soon we will come to Saudi Arabia and will do that sectoral deep dives and get investors, those who are interested to make investment from both sides in Saudi Arabia and Nigeria,” she added.

On the sidelines of the GEC, she held a meeting with South African Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu to strategize on how African countries can ensure that they are able to effectively utilize the platform that the GEC has provided. They also discussed how they can integrate the activities and initiatives of the GEC network into the Africa Agenda 2063 by the African Union.

Agenda 2063 is Africa’s blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future. The continent’s strategic framework aims to deliver on its goal for inclusive and sustainable development and is a concrete manifestation of the pan-African drive for unity, self-determination, freedom, progress and collective prosperity.

“I also had a meeting with Dilawar Syed, the special representative of the US Department of State’s Office of Commercial and Business Affairs. Our discussions were very fruitful in the sense that we have an understanding of areas that they want to assist,” the minister said.

“We are able to highlight from the perspective of Nigeria, what kind of initiatives the government has put in place like the economic sustainability plan which is basically to help reduce effects of COVID-19. And some of the key programs that we think are very successful like the MSME survival fund, the issues of housing, issues of social investment, and how, when we both go back to our countries, reflect further and decide on key initiatives that we want to take forward,” she added.

“So it’s not that we have a big basket of aspirations, we want to be more specific, things that will actually make a change in our countries,” said the minister.

Katagum arrived in Riyadh on Monday morning and departed on Tuesday for Dubai to attend the World Government Summit and the World Women Leadership Conference.


US economy contracts in first quarter; outlook fuzzy

US economy contracts in first quarter; outlook fuzzy
Updated 30 min 19 sec ago

US economy contracts in first quarter; outlook fuzzy

US economy contracts in first quarter; outlook fuzzy
  • Gross domestic product fell at a 1.6 percent annualized rate last quarter

WASHINGTON: The US economy contracted slightly more than previously estimated in the first quarter amid a record trade deficit and supply chain disruptions, government data showed on Wednesday.

The Commerce Department’s third estimate of gross domestic product also showed some under- lying softness in the economy, with consumer spending revised lower and inventories higher than reported last month. This does not bode well for domestic demand and the economic outlook amid recession jitters as the Federal Reserve aggressively tightens monetary policy to tame inflation.

“The biggest effect from this report is that it leaves inventories in a more overbuilt position than previously thought, putting second quarter GDP into negative territory pending what tomorrow’s data reveal about May consumption and consumer inflation and April revisions to the same,” said Chris Low, chief economist at FHN Financial in New York.

Gross domestic product fell at a 1.6 percent annualized rate last quarter, revised down from the 1.5 percent pace of decline reported last month. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the pace of contraction would be unrevised at a 1.5 percent rate.

The economy was initially estimated to have contracted at a 1.4 percent rate. It grew at a robust 6.9 percent pace in the fourth quarter. GDP was 2.7 percent above its level in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the economy, grew at a 1.8 percent rate instead of the 3.1 percent pace reported last month. The downgrade reflected downward revisions to financial services and insurance as well as healthcare.

Spending on long-lasting goods like motor vehicles and recreational goods was revised lower.

Businesses accumulated inventories at a $188.5 billion rate, rather than the $149.6 billion rate reported last month. As a result, growth in final sales to private domestic purchasers, which excludes trade, inventories and government spending, was revised down to a 3 percent rate last quarter. This measure of domestic demand was previously reported to have risen at a 3.9 percent rate.


Saudi Cabinet approves new companies law to drive entrepreneurship

Saudi Cabinet approves new companies law to drive entrepreneurship
Updated 13 sec ago

Saudi Cabinet approves new companies law to drive entrepreneurship

Saudi Cabinet approves new companies law to drive entrepreneurship
  • New legislation to regulate all provisions related to companies, whether commercial, nonprofit or professional

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet has approved a law allowing the creation of a new type of company in the Kingdom to boost entrepreneurship.

The new Companies law was signed off on Tuesday, and will regulate all provisions related to companies, whether commercial, non-profit or professional.

It allows a new form of company — called a Simplified Joint Stock Company — that meets the needs of entrepreneurship and venture capital growth.

It also allows the issuance of a family charter that regulates ownership in family businesses, in addition to governance, management, work policy, employment of family members and cash profits to ensure the sustainability of these companies.

“The new law will improve the financing and business dynamics in every sector in the economy, it should have a great positive impact on the economy for the next decades,” CEO of Razeen Capital, Mohammed Al Suwayed, told Arab News.

 “I can't point out a single impact because the impact is going to be happening in all of the sectors gradually,” he said.

It also reduces the legal requirements and procedures for small and medium enterprises, and simplifies the procedures for establishing companies.

Under this law, many restrictions in the incorporation, practice and exit phases and restrictions on company names have been removed.

According to the Ministry of Investment, the changes will also enhance the diversity and strength of the local market, and raise the level of competitiveness of the Saudi investment environment.

“The new corporate system came to achieve the hopes of family businesses, organize their business by concluding the family charter, encourage bold investment and address the challenges of entrepreneurs by approving the simplified joint stock company,” the Minister of Commerce Majid Al-Kassabi said. 

Real Estate Brokerage law

Another law signed off was the Real Estate Brokerage law, which aims to regulate the brokers business and provide innovative and high-quality services to beneficiaries.

“The Saudi Cabinet’s ratification of the real estate brokerage law will help ensure the reliability of real estate transactions through the Real estate General Authority,” Majid Al-Hogail, Minister of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing said on Twitter.

He added that It will also help raise the level of services provided and preserve the rights of customers in the sector through standards and procedures for doing business.

Al-Hogail indicated that real estate brokerage services are limited to brokers licensed by the General Real Estate Authority, and brokerage contracts and real estate transactions must be submitted electronically.

He said the commission and prepayment must be determined, and that violators will be subject to penalties under the law.

Abdullah Al-Hammad, CEO of the Real Estate General Authority, described the law as a “positive addition.”

“This law complements the legislative system that the General Real Estate Authority is working on to regulate the real estate market in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he told CNBC.  

The new corporate system will play a pivotal role in supporting and strengthening the regulatory environment for commercial and economic entities, the chairman of the Capital Market Authority said. 

The system aims to facilitate the procedures and regulatory requirements to stimulate the business environment and support investment, Mohammed Elkuwaiz added. 

Decoder

Saudi Arabia's new Companies law

Approved by the Saudi Cabinet on June 28, 2022, the measure allows a new form of company — called a Simplified Joint Stock Company — that meets the needs of entrepreneurship and venture capital growth. It reduces the legal requirements and procedures for small and medium enterprises, and simplifies the procedures for establishing companies. Many restrictions in the incorporation, practice and exit phases and restrictions on company names have been removed.


Biden administration holding its first onshore oil sales

Biden administration holding its first onshore oil sales
Updated 29 June 2022

Biden administration holding its first onshore oil sales

Biden administration holding its first onshore oil sales

BILLINGS: The US government this week is holding its first onshore oil and gas drilling lease auctions since President Joe Biden took office after a federal court blocked the administration’s attempt to suspend such sales because of climate change worries.

The online auctions start on Wednesday and will conclude on Thursday. About 200 square miles (518 square kilometers) of federal lands were offered for lease in eight western states. Most of the parcels are in Wyoming.

The sales come as federal officials try to balance efforts to fight climate change against pressure to bring down high gas prices.

Republicans want Biden to expand US crude production. But he faces calls from within his own party to do more to curb fossil fuel emissions that are heating the planet.

A coalition of 10 environmental groups said in a lawsuit filed before the sales even began that they were illegal because officials acknowledged the climate change impacts but proceeded anyway.

An immediate ruling was not expected. Interior Department spokesperson Melissa Schwartz said the agency did not have comment on the litigation.

Beginning with this week’s sales the royalty rate for oil produced from new federal leases is increasing to 18.75 percent from 12.5 percent. That’s a 50 percent jump and marks the first increase since the 1920s.

Parcels also are being offered in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Oklahoma.

Hundreds of parcels of public land that companies nominated for leasing had been previously dropped by the administration because of concerns over wildlife being harmed by drilling rigs. More parcels covering about 49 square kilometers were dropped at the last minute in Wyoming because of potential impacts on wilderness, officials said.

But attorney Melissa Hornbein with the Western Environmental Law Center said the reductions in the size of the sales were not enough.

“They are hoping that by choosing to hold sales on a smaller amount of acreage they are threading the needle. But from our perspective, the climate science is the one thing that doesn't lie,” Hornbein said.

Fossil fuels extracted from public lands account for about 20 percent of energy-related US greenhouse gas emissions, making them a prime target for climate activists who want to shut down leasing.

Biden suspended new leasing just a week after taking office in January 2021. A federal judge in Louisiana ordered the sales to resume, saying Interior officials had offered no “rational explanation” for canceling them and only Congress could do so.

The government held an offshore lease auction in the Gulf of Mexico in November, although a court later blocked that sale before the leases were issued.


Arabian Plastic Industrial Co. gets CMA nod to IPO 20% stake on Nomu

Arabian Plastic Industrial Co. gets CMA nod to IPO 20% stake on Nomu
Updated 29 June 2022

Arabian Plastic Industrial Co. gets CMA nod to IPO 20% stake on Nomu

Arabian Plastic Industrial Co. gets CMA nod to IPO 20% stake on Nomu

RIYADH: Saudi-based Arabian Plastic Industrial Co. has received approval for an initial public offering of 1 million shares on the Kingdom’s parallel market.

Shares to be listed represent 20 percent of the company’s share capital. 

The resolution was issued by the Saudi stock market regulator Capital Market Authority in a statement on Wednesday.

The Capital Market Authority’s approval shall be valid for six months from the authority’s board resolution date. It shall be deemed cancelled if the company’s offering is not completed within this period. 

The authority also granted Abdulaziz and Mansour Ibrahim Albabtin Co. approval to list 544,000 shares, representing 16 percent of the firm’s capital, on Nomu.

 

 


Arabian Drilling Co. gets approval to IPO 30% stake on Saudi stock market

Arabian Drilling Co. gets approval to IPO 30% stake on Saudi stock market
Updated 29 June 2022

Arabian Drilling Co. gets approval to IPO 30% stake on Saudi stock market

Arabian Drilling Co. gets approval to IPO 30% stake on Saudi stock market

RIYADH: Saudi-based Arabian Drilling Co. has received approval for an initial public offering of 26.7 million shares, representing 30 percent of the firm’s capital, on the Kingdom’s stock exchange.

The Capital Market Authority’s approval shall be valid for six months from the authority’s board resolution date. It shall be deemed cancelled if the company’s offering is not completed within this period.