GCC needs to secure its investment landscape: Report

GCC needs to secure its investment landscape: Report
The policies adopted earlier in the GCC were unfocused and aimed to attract all possible investments in all potential sectors, which proved unsuccessful, according to the report. (Reuters)
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Updated 07 August 2022

GCC needs to secure its investment landscape: Report

GCC needs to secure its investment landscape: Report
  • Call to focus on frontier sectors based on emerging technologies to attract FDI

CAIRO: Real and perceived political risks, the lack of focus on non-oil sectors, laxity in regulatory policies and a restrictive business environment are some of the factors impeding the growth of foreign direct investment in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, said a recent study.

According to Oliver Wyman’s recent report titled “De-risking the Investment Landscape: High-impact FDI Policies for the GCC,” the region needs to prioritize regulations and policies to de-risk investment. 

This approach should help them attract additional FDIs, the report recommended.

“The best way to attract FDI may be to focus on frontier sectors, which are based on emerging technology, generate high growth, and have few incumbent players to disrupt,” the report stated.

The policies adopted earlier in the GCC were unfocused and aimed to attract all possible investments in all potential sectors, which proved unsuccessful, according to the report.

Although most Gulf countries have been proactive in developing initiatives to stimulate FDI, few have successfully attracted foreign investment in the region.

“Historically, FDI into GCC economies has fluctuated with the rise and fall of commodity prices,” explained Wyman’s report. “However, it has failed to materialize as a consistent driver of economic opportunity in non-oil economic sectors.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Oman and Bahrain are the only two GCC economies that saw FDI inflows over outflows in each of the years from 2016 to 2021.

• While Kuwait registered FDI outflows totaling $3.6 billion in 2021, it saw a sharp drop from $8 billion in the previous year.

“With such readily available domestic capital, many GCC states have historically not needed to prioritize FDI as a source of development finance,” it added.

The report further revealed that GCC states are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of FDI and its potential impact on their economies, which could enhance productivity.

Foreign investment provides a good source of finance, promotes interactions of local suppliers and consumer markets, and stimulates human capital by training local workers and employing foreign ones.

As stated by the report, an increased level of private competition, an enhancement in technological know-how and a surge in cross-border activity are additional favorable consequences that arise from increased FDI.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development recently released the “World Investment Report 2022,” which showed that Saudi Arabia and the UAE, two of the largest economies in the GCC, saw 2021 FDI outflows exceed FDI inflows by $4.6 billion and $1.9 billion, respectively. 

The difference for all GCC members stood at $6.4 billion, although a noticeable improvement from 2019 and 2020, where the differences were $11.1 billion and $8.3 billion, respectively.

Oman and Bahrain are the only two GCC economies that saw FDI inflows over outflows in each of the years from 2016 to 2021, according to the UNCTAD report.

In comparison, FDI inflows to Indonesia in 2021 surpassed the outflows by $16.5 billion. Similarly, FDI inflows to Vietnam and Malaysia trumped outflows by $15.4 billion and $6.9 billion, respectively, UNCTAD data show.    

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia witnessed the highest FDI outflows in the GCC in 2021. It recorded $23.9 billion in net outflows in 2021 compared to only $4.9 billion in 2020. It is worth mentioning the Kingdom’s FDI inflows stood at $5.4 billion in 2020.

 The UAE came in second with $22.5 billion worth of FDI outflows in 2021 compared to $18.9 billion the year before, the UNCTAD data showed.

While Kuwait registered FDI outflows totaling $3.6 billion in 2021, it saw a sharp drop from $8 billion in the previous year, the report stated.


Saudi Grains Organization buys 5k tons of wheat for $2.4m 

Saudi Grains Organization buys 5k tons of wheat for $2.4m 
Updated 18 sec ago

Saudi Grains Organization buys 5k tons of wheat for $2.4m 

Saudi Grains Organization buys 5k tons of wheat for $2.4m 

RIYADH: The Saudi Grains Organization has deposited SR9 million ($2.4 million) to 15 local wheat farmers who supplied quantities allocated for this season.

Purchasing an amount of 5,058 tons, the payment constitutes the fifteenth batch, according to SAGO’s statement. 

It noted that the total amount spent this season so far has reached SR814.6 million.


Saudi banking sector’s assets to reach $1.2tn by 2030, minister says

Saudi banking sector’s assets to reach $1.2tn by 2030, minister says
Updated 18 min 27 sec ago

Saudi banking sector’s assets to reach $1.2tn by 2030, minister says

Saudi banking sector’s assets to reach $1.2tn by 2030, minister says

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s financial sector aims to increase the total assets of the banking sector to over SR4.5 trillion ($1.2 trillion) by 2030, the Kingdom’s Minister of Finance said. 

During his speech on the occasion of the 92nd National Day, Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan added that the total banking assets amounted to SR3.5 trillion by the end of the second quarter of 2022, according to Asharq Alawsat. 

He noted that the growing strength of the Saudi economy reflects the solidness of financial policies, and its ability to adapt in the face of challenges.

He praised the results achieved by the Financial Sector Development Program, the Financial Sustainability Program and the National Center for Privatization Program.

The Financial Sector Development Program has increased the number of bodies that are effective in financial technology to over 120 companies until September 2022, he explained. 

With regards to the Financial Sustainability Program, the minister noted that it contributed to carrying out many structural reforms.

This is in addition to contributing to raising growth and employment rates, and maintaining financial sustainability, through which financial and economic stability would be achieved, he added.

Speaking of the privatization program, Al-Jadaan explained it contributed to strengthening the partnership between the public and private sectors.

He added that the National Center for Privatization Program has contributed to setting the general frameworks for the privatization system. 

In August, Saudi Arabia’s banking sector showed its continuation to outperform its regional counterparts in 2021, with assets growing by a record 10 percent to SR3.3 trillion, according to a report by The Banker.

The Banker’s Top 100 Arab Banks ranking showed that Saudi lenders’ combined Tier 1 capital base is higher than any other country in the region.

The ranking was issued for the year 2022 and data used for the listing pertained to 2021.

While higher oil prices helped economic growth in the Kingdom recover to 3.1 percent in 2021, up from a 4.1 percent contraction the previous year, it is the country’s booming mortgage market — fueled by government initiatives to help Saudi nationals acquire a property — that continues to boost banks’ balance sheets.


ADNOC, TAQA close $3.8bn deal for clean energy, decarbonization

ADNOC, TAQA close $3.8bn deal for clean energy,  decarbonization
Updated 44 min 22 sec ago

ADNOC, TAQA close $3.8bn deal for clean energy, decarbonization

ADNOC, TAQA close $3.8bn deal for clean energy,  decarbonization

RIYADH: Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., and Abu Dhabi National Energy Co., known as TAQA, have finalized a deal for the construction of a $3.8-billion strategic project to power and decarbonize ADNOC’s offshore production operations.

According to a statement, a consortium comprising Korea Electric Power,  Kyushu Electric Power Co., and Électricité de France will build, own, operate and transfer its high-voltage direct current sub-sea transmission network in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The statement noted that the KEPCO-led consortium holds a 40 percent stake in the project under a build, own, operate and transfer basis, while ADNOC and TAQA own stakes amounting to 30 percent each. 

According to the statement, the full project will be returned to ADNOC after 35 years of operation. 

The transmission system will have a total installed capacity of 3.2 GW and will comprise two independent subsea HVDC links and converter stations, the statement added. 

The construction of this project is expected to start this year, and commercial operation is expected to commence in 2025. 

“ADNOC has once again demonstrated its ability to successfully structure and close a bold and progressive transaction that will help secure our low-carbon future as we intensify our efforts to decarbonize our operations,” said Sultan Al-Jaber, UAE minister of industry and advanced technology and managing director and group CEO of ADNOC. 

He added: “As the responsible provider of reliable and low-carbon energy, ADNOC will continue to work with our partners to advance practical and commercially viable solutions as the energy transition partner of choice.” 

According to the statement, the development is expected to reduce the carbon footprint of ADNOC’s offshore operations by more than 30 percent. 

The project will replace ADNOC’s existing offshore gas turbine generators with more sustainable power sources available on the Abu Dhabi onshore power network, operated by TAQA’s wholly owned subsidiary, Abu Dhabi Transmission and Despatch Co. 

Mohamed Alsuwaidi, chairman of Taqa, said: “Reaching financial close is an important milestone for this distinctive project, which will see TAQA providing ADNOC offshore facilities with low-carbon energy securely and efficiently through TRANSCO’s power network system.” 

“TAQA continues to showcase how its expertise can be utilized to decarbonize industry through strategic partnerships and bringing value to its stakeholders,” he added. 


Germany seeks to deepen energy ties with Saudi Arabia

Germany seeks to deepen energy ties with Saudi Arabia
Updated 11 min 33 sec ago

Germany seeks to deepen energy ties with Saudi Arabia

Germany seeks to deepen energy ties with Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Saturday after a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that he wants to deepen the energy partnership between the two countries.

Speaking to reporters, Scholz said that the partnership should go beyond fossil fuels to include hydrogen and renewable energies.

Germany, until recently heavily dependent on Russia for gas, has been seeking to diversify its energy supply since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Scholz, on a two-day trip to the Gulf, said he also addressed issues involving human and civil rights in talks with the Crown Prince.

During the meeting, the Crown Prince and Scholz discussed aspects of Saudi-German relations and areas of partnership between the two countries. 

The Crown Prince also discussed prospects of elevating the bilateral relationship with Germany and opportunities for the Kingdom’s development in accordance with Vision 2030. 

After the Saudi Arabian visit, Scholz reached UAE on Saturday night, where he was welcomed by Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, and several officials at the Presidential Terminal of the Abu Dhabi International Airport, news agency WAM reported. 

Scholz said on Sunday that he had seen progress in talks to buy liquefied natural gas and diesel from the UAE. 

The German Chancellor, however, did not provide details on the talks with the UAE. 

“We need to make sure that the production of LNG in the world is advanced to the point where the high demand that exists can be met without having to resort to the production capacity that exists in Russia,” Scholz told reporters. 

Scholz further noted that Germany is determined to never again rely on a single energy supplier. 

He added: “With the investments that we are now making in Germany, and that will become reality bit by bit next year, we will indeed have an infrastructure for gas imports for Germany, such that we are no longer directly dependent on the specific supplier at the other end of the pipeline, as we are with a pipeline connection.” 

Amid these widespread calls to reduce Russian energy imports, Moscow retaliated by reducing gas flows and threatening to shut off all the taps, sending prices soaring and could even raise the possibility of energy rationing in Europe. 

(With inputs from Reuters and AFP) 


Cement producer Qassim signs MoU to acquire Hail Cement

Cement producer Qassim signs MoU to acquire Hail Cement
Updated 25 September 2022

Cement producer Qassim signs MoU to acquire Hail Cement

Cement producer Qassim signs MoU to acquire Hail Cement

RIYADH: Qassim Cement Co. has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Hail Cement Co. regarding a securities exchange transaction, in which the former will acquire all of Hail’s issued shares.

Both parties will therefore proceed with due diligence in connection with the proposed transaction, according to a bourse filing.

Upon completion of the relevant financial evaluation and after consideration of the due diligence, Qassim and Hail will begin discussions on a non-binding exchange ratio.

Hail’s shareholders will receive 0.1933 newly issued shares in Qassim for each share they own in Hail.