India In-Focus — Palm oil imports surging to 10-month high; Sri Lanka to organize roadshows in India

India buys palm oil mainly from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, while soybean oil is mainly sourced from Argentina, Brazil and the United States. India imports sunflower oil from Ukraine and Russia.
India buys palm oil mainly from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, while soybean oil is mainly sourced from Argentina, Brazil and the United States. India imports sunflower oil from Ukraine and Russia.
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Updated 06 July 2022

India In-Focus — Palm oil imports surging to 10-month high; Sri Lanka to organize roadshows in India

India In-Focus — Palm oil imports surging to 10-month high; Sri Lanka to organize roadshows in India

RIYADH: India’s palm oil imports in July are set to jump to a 10-month high due to a hefty correction in prices and as Indonesia allows more exports of the product, four dealers told Reuters.

Higher purchases by India, the world’s biggest importer of vegetable oils, may add support for Malaysian palm oil prices, which are trading near a one-year low.

India’s palm oil imports in July may rise to between 700,000 to 800,000 tons, the highest since September 2021, the dealers said.

Indian buyers contracted to purchase nearly 250,000 tons of palm oil for prompt shipment last week, but this week’s drop in prices has confused many buyers and they are waiting for prices to stabilize, said another one of the dealers, who is based in New Delhi with a global trading firm.

India buys palm oil mainly from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, while soybean oil is mainly sourced from Argentina, Brazil and the United States. India imports sunflower oil from Ukraine and Russia.

Sri Lanka looks to Indians visitors

Sri Lanka will hold road shows in five key Indian cities to attract more visitors from its populous northern neighbor in a bid to bring more foreign currency into the crisis-hit island, its tourism minister said on Wednesday.

Sri Lanka is grappling with its worst financial crisis in seven decades, partly triggered by economic mismanagement and the coronavirus disease pandemic, which wiped out its lucrative tourism industry.

The country of 22 million people is now without enough foreign currency to import essentials, leading to shortages of medicine, food, and fuel.

Despite the turmoil, Sri Lanka has seen a steady trickle of 61,951 Indian tourists — the most from any foreign country — in the first five months of this year, and the government is keen to bring in more Indians.

“Sri Lanka must have tourism revenue if it is to emerge from this crisis. That is essential,” Tourism Minister Harin Fernando told reporters.

Sri Lanka’s Tourism Ministry will hold road shows in five major Indian cities, seeking to draw business and leisure travelers, besides destination weddings, Fernando said.

“India is a very important market for us,” he said.

SpiceJet warned over safety lapses

India’s aviation regulator has issued a warning notice to SpiceJet Ltd. after a review of recent incidents by the watchdog showed “poor internal safety oversight and inadequate maintenance actions.”

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation, also known as DGCA, said that a review of several incidents involving SpiceJet’s planes since April 1 showed that “the aircraft either turned back to its originating station or continued landing to the destination with degraded safety margins.”

“The review transpires that poor internal safety oversight and inadequate maintenance actions (as most of the incidents are related to either component failure or system related failure) has resulted in degradation of the safety margins,” the DGCA said in its letter.

The airline has been given three weeks to respond to the regulator’s warning notice before any action is taken.

The letter dated July 5 was made public by India’s civil aviation ministry on Twitter on Wednesday.

 

(With input from Reuters) 


Saudi commercial banks’ June consumer loans rise 13% to $118.9bn

Saudi commercial banks’ June consumer loans rise 13% to $118.9bn
Updated 08 August 2022

Saudi commercial banks’ June consumer loans rise 13% to $118.9bn

Saudi commercial banks’ June consumer loans rise 13% to $118.9bn
  • Share of consumer loans in total bank credit falls to 19.9 percent, data shows

CAIRO: Consumer loans of Saudi commercial banks increased 13 percent to SR445.8 billion ($118.9 billion) on June 30, 2022, compared to SR394.2 billion on the same day last year, the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, revealed.

This growth, however, pales in comparison to the 17.4 percent growth between June 30, 2021, and June 30, 2020, the data pointed out.

Moreover, the share of consumer loans in total bank credit has fallen to 19.9 percent on June 30, 2022, the lowest share percentage on record, data compiled by Arab News revealed. 

It is worth mentioning that consumer loans do not include real estate financing, finance leasing and margin lending, according to SAMA. 

From June 2017-2022, consumer loans have had a positive trend: The value grew 0.5, 0.6, 5.3, 17.4, and 13.1 percent year on year, respectively. The consumer loans stood at SR315.1 billion on June 30, 2017.

According to SAMA, 90 percent of consumer loans fall under the “other” products category.

The balance of consumer loans to finance “other” products increased 19 percent to SR402.3 billion on June 30 this year from SR338.2 billion the same day last year.

The remaining 10 percent is distributed among renovation and home improvement, vehicles and private transport, furniture and durable goods, education, healthcare, tourism and travel.

FASTFACTS

• Renovation and home improvement, which makes up 3.4 percent of the 10 percent, saw a 31.4 percent decline to SR15.2 billion on June 30, 2022, from SR22.2 billion a year ago.

• Car loans experienced a 20.6 percent year-on-year decrease from SR15.5 billion to SR12.3 billion during the period under study.

Renovation and home improvement, which makes up 3.4 percent of the 10 percent, saw a 31.4 percent decline to SR15.2 billion on June 30, 2022, from SR22.2 billion a year ago.

Moreover, car loans experienced a 20.6 percent year-on-year decrease from SR15.5 billion to SR12.3 billion during the period under study.

Furniture and durable goods underwent a 31.1 percent decrease from SR12.6 billion to SR8.7 billion over the same period. In contrast, education loans grew by 33 percent to SR5.9 billion.  

Looking at consumer spending during the first half of 2022, the total value of point of sale transactions grew 12.9 percent year on year, reaching SR271.2 billion in June year-to-date compared to SR240.3 billion over the same period in 2021, SAMA data stated.

The most significant change in POS value between the first half of 2021 and 2022 was in “miscellaneous goods and services,” which grew 42.6 percent from SR19.7 billion to SR28.2 billion during this period.

“Others,” which makes up 21.2 percent of the total value of POS transactions in the first half of 2022, the highest share for a category, surged 33.6 percent from SR42.7 billion in the first half of 2021 to SR57.1 billion in the first half of 2022.

Food and beverages, another component that exhibits a prominent share of 14.7 percent in POS sales, showed an increase of 14.8 percent from SR35.8 in June year-to-date last year to SR41.0 billion in June this year.

On the other hand, restaurants and cafes increased 31.4 percent from SR28.3 billion in the first half of 2021 to SR37.2 billion in the first half of 2022.


Dubai real estate market records $435.6m in real estate transactions

Dubai real estate market records $435.6m in real estate transactions
Updated 08 August 2022

Dubai real estate market records $435.6m in real estate transactions

Dubai real estate market records $435.6m in real estate transactions
  • Market saw 376 sales transactions worth 897.38m dirhams

DUBAI: According to data released by Dubai’s Land Department, the Dubai real estate market recorded transactions worth over 1.6 billion dirhams ($435.6 million), Emirates News Agency reported.

The market saw 376 sales transactions worth 897.38 million dirhams, 122 mortgage transactions worth 704.22 million dirhams, and 13 gift deals worth 23.3 million dirhams.

Villas and apartments worth 602.04 million dirhams and 78 land plots worth 295.34 million dirhams were sold.

On the other hand, mortgages were obtained for 92 villas and apartments worth 226.63 million dirhams and 30 land plots worth 477.59 million dirhams.

 


Saudi Arabia launches program to develop cybersecurity sector

Saudi Arabia launches program to develop cybersecurity sector
Updated 08 August 2022

Saudi Arabia launches program to develop cybersecurity sector

Saudi Arabia launches program to develop cybersecurity sector

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s National Cybersecurity Authority on Monday launched the “CyberIC” program to develop the Kingdom’s cybersecurity sector, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The program aims to develop national capabilities in the field of cybersecurity, localize cybersecurity technology through training.

According to the authority, the first phase of the  program includes several initiatives including training of employees of national authorities, accelerating cybersecurity activities to stimulate the sector, and encouraging the development of national cybersecurity products, services and solutions. 

The program will also see the launch of the second version of the cybersecurity challenge and programs for chief information security officers in cooperation with international universities. The courses will include a set of cyber exercises that take place in a virtual environment that simulates real cyberattacks and incidents.

HIGHLIGHTS

The program will also see the launch of the second version of the cybersecurity challenge and programs for chief information security officers in cooperation with international universities.

It will support more than 40 startups through the cybersecurity accelerator and establish more than 20 startups through the cybersecurity challenge.

Around 10,000 Saudis in the cybersecurity sector will receive support through CyberIC.

More than 5,000 Saudis will be trained through advanced cyber exercises.

The initiative is based on six main tracks: Innovation and entrepreneurship, cybersecurity officers, cybersecurity trainers, fresh graduates, cybersecurity specialists, and law enforcement agencies. 

The first phase of CyberIC seeks to raise the number of cybersecurity startups in the sector by assisting more than 60 national companies. The program will support more than 40 startups through the cybersecurity accelerator and establish more than 20 startups through the cybersecurity challenge. 

In addition, around 10,000 Saudis in the cybersecurity sector will receive support through CyberIC, including more than 1,500 beneficiaries in national authorities; 150 cybersecurity officials, who will be offered leadership skills training; and more than 5,000 Saudis will be trained through advanced cyber exercises.


Goldman sees strong case for higher oil prices despite negative shocks

Goldman sees strong case for higher oil prices despite negative shocks
Updated 08 August 2022

Goldman sees strong case for higher oil prices despite negative shocks

Goldman sees strong case for higher oil prices despite negative shocks
  • The investment bank kept its 2023 outlook of $125 unchanged

BENGALURU: Goldman Sachs said the case for higher oil prices was still strong with current supply shortfalls well above its expectations in recent months, despite a recent retreat led by factors including global recession concerns.

The market will remain in unsustainable deficits at current prices and balancing it will still require “demand destruction on top of the ongoing economic slowdown,” the investment bank said in a note dated Aug. 7.

Oil prices hovered near multi-month lows on Monday, pressured by lingering worries about an economic slowdown.

Goldman said a divergence between benchmark Brent prices, which averaged $110 a barrel in June and July, and the corresponding Brent-equivalent global retail fuel price of $160 per barrel was not enough to trigger enough demand destruction to end the supply deficit.

“The unprecedented discount of Brent prices, even wider than we expected, can be explained by the worsening Russian energy crisis, as it boosts the costs of transforming crude out of the ground (Brent) into retail pump prices around the world through surging EU gas prices, freight rates, USD and global refining utilization,” it said.

Goldman trimmed its Brent price forecasts for the third and fourth quarters to $110 and $125 a barrel, respectively, versus previous forecasts of $140 and $130. It kept its 2023 outlook of $125 unchanged.

The investment bank forecast US retail gasoline and diesel prices to rebound to $4.35 and $5.50 per gallon, respectively, by the fourth quarter and average $4.40 and $5.25 in 2023.

“We forecast that US retail fuel prices will rally into year-end then decline from 2Q23 onward as refining and marketing margins start to normalize,” Goldman said.

The US average retail gasoline price hit a peak of $5.02 a gallon in mid-June, data from the American Automobile Association motorist advocacy group showed. 


India may scrap wheat import duty to cool domestic prices, say sources

India may scrap wheat import duty to cool domestic prices, say sources
Updated 08 August 2022

India may scrap wheat import duty to cool domestic prices, say sources

India may scrap wheat import duty to cool domestic prices, say sources

MUMBAI: India could scrap a 40 percent duty on wheat imports and cap the amount of stocks traders can hold to try to dampen record high domestic prices in the world’s second-biggest producer, government and trade officials told Reuters on Monday.

Late in the day, the Trade Ministry said it would restrict the export of some wheat-derived products like finely milled “maida” and semolina from Aug. 14, with only an inter-ministerial committee allowed to clear their shipment. Exports of the items are generally small.

India barred wheat exports in May after the crop suffered a heatwave, but domestic prices still rose to a record high. Yet, international prices are still way above the domestic market, making it unviable for traders to buy from abroad.

If the government does remove the duty, and international prices also fall, then traders say they could start importing, especially during the upcoming festival season, when higher demand typically drives domestic prices higher.

“We are exploring all possible options to bring down the prices,” said a senior government official who held a discussion with industry officials last week.

New Delhi could scrap the 40 percent import duty and impose stock limits on wholesalers and traders to signal to the market that the government will do everything in its power to keep prices in check, said the official, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the subject.

Domestic wheat prices ended last week at a record 24,000 rupees ($301.57) per ton, having risen 14 percent from lows struck after the government surprised markets on May 14 by banning exports, ending hopes that India could fill the market gap left by missing Ukraine grain.

Domestic prices are still nearly a third lower than global prices, said a Mumbai-based trader with a global trading firm, who described Indian wheat as the cheapest in the world.

India last imported wheat in the April 2017 to March 2018 financial year.

“If global prices fall by another 20 percent and Indian prices continue their rally, then maybe, sometime after a few months, imports might become feasible,” the trader said.

The government has limited options to intervene in the market this year since its procurement has fallen 57 percent to 18.8 million tons, said a New Delhi-based dealer with a global trading firm.