Integration of zakat, tax bodies with customs to be completed in Q1: ZATCA governor 

 ZATCA Gov. Suhail Mohammed Abanmi said ‘the integration of tax and customs bodies is a huge remarkable achievement.’
ZATCA Gov. Suhail Mohammed Abanmi said ‘the integration of tax and customs bodies is a huge remarkable achievement.’
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Updated 08 February 2023

Integration of zakat, tax bodies with customs to be completed in Q1: ZATCA governor 

Integration of zakat, tax bodies with customs to be completed in Q1: ZATCA governor 

RIYADH: The complete merger of the General Authority of Zakat and Tax with the General Authority of Customs will be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2023, revealed ZATCA Gov. Suhail Mohammed Abanmi.  

While speaking at a panel discussion at the Zakat, Tax and Customs Conference in Riyadh on Wednesday, Abanmi said that ZATCA faced so many challenges to integrate these bodies, but it is successfully completing the process as the authority carried out several studies to understand the possible hurdles that may come up in the journey.  

The integration between Zakat, Tax and Customs bodies was happening in phases, and the merging process is now in its final stages.  

It was in 2021 that the Saudi cabinet approved the decision to merge the General Authority of Zakat and Tax with the General Authority of Customs, to form an umbrella authority named Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority, in line with the Kingdom’s efforts to restructure government agencies to speed the implementation of the goals outlined in Vision 2030.  

“The decision to integrate tax and customs bodies was taken in 2021, and it will be completed by the first quarter of this year,” said Abanmi.  

He added: “The integration of tax and customs bodies is a huge remarkable achievement. We faced so many challenges. But we successfully overcome those hurdles by conducting a study. The study was well detailed, and we found solutions for these challenges.”  

During the panel discussion, Abanmi also outlined the benefits of integration and noted that these efforts will mutually benefit both the customers and the government.  

“As customers use the same channel after the integration of tax and customs, it will increase the efficiency of the operations and enhance the satisfaction levels of the users. By integrating the two bodies; tax and customs, we reduced the cost of operational expenses and capital costs, and this will help the government,” he said.  

Abanmi further noted that integrating zakat, tax and customs bodies will also enhance cybersecurity, and added that it will also help reduce risks and tax evasion.  

Talking about the feasibility study conducted before taking the merging decision, Abanmi noted: “The decision to integrate tax and customs bodies under a single umbrella was decided after a study. This study looked into several international studies and analyzed previous experiences of integration that happened in UK, Estonia, Portuguese, and South Africa.” 


Saudi Arabia to sign International Coffee Agreement

Saudi Arabia to sign International Coffee Agreement
Updated 29 March 2023

Saudi Arabia to sign International Coffee Agreement

Saudi Arabia to sign International Coffee Agreement

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Kingdom’s accession to the International Coffee Agreement, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

It is an international commodity agreement between coffee producing and consuming countries. It was first signed in 1962 to maintain exporting countries’ quotas and keep coffee prices high and stable in the market, mainly using export quotas to steer the price.

Another objective of the agreement is to explore ways to improve conditions in an over $300 billion-a-year industry that provides a livelihood for millions of people from farmers to baristas across the world.

According to a report by global business analysts Euromonitor International in January 2022, coffee consumption in Saudi Arabia grew by 4 percent per year between 2016 and 2021 and is forecast to increase by a further 5 percent annually up to 2026, reaching an expected consumption of 28,700 tons each year.

In a bid to boost the Kingdom’s coffee production, the Public Investment Fund launched the Saudi Coffee Co. It aims to ramp up production by more than 700 percent within five years.

The firm currently produces 300 tons of coffee a year, but is aiming to hit 2,500 tons.

 

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AI could replace 300m jobs globally: Goldman Sachs 

AI could replace 300m jobs globally: Goldman Sachs 
Updated 29 March 2023

AI could replace 300m jobs globally: Goldman Sachs 

AI could replace 300m jobs globally: Goldman Sachs 

RIYADH: Artificial Intelligence could take the place of 300 million full-time jobs around the world, investment bank Goldman Sachs has predicted in a new report.

Administrative and legal sectors will be at the highest risk, with 46 percent of administrative jobs and 44 percent of legal jobs risking replacement by AI, according to the institution.  

Physically intensive jobs face low risk, with construction facing a 6 percent threat, whereas maintenance is at 4 percent threat.  

However, the roll out of AI could boost labor productivity, and push global growth up by 7 percent year-on-year over a 10-year period, according to Goldman Sachs.  

“The combination of significant labor cost savings, new job creation, and a productivity boost for non-displaced workers raises the possibility of a labor productivity boom like those that followed the emergence of earlier general-purpose technologies like the electric motor and personal computer,” stated the bank in a note titled The Potentially Large Effects of Artificial Intelligence on Economic Growth.

Despite the probable job losses that will occur due to AI, economists noted that technological advances which initially replace workers will create employment growth in the long term.  

“Although the impact of AI on the labor market is likely to be significant, most jobs and industries are only partially exposed to automation and are thus more likely to be complemented rather than substituted by AI,” the economists added. 

The report hypothesizes that around two-thirds of jobs in the US alone are exposed to automation by AI, with almost 50 percent of that work being replaceable.   

In the US, around 7 percent of jobs could be substituted by AI, 63 percent could be complemented by it, and 30 percent unaffected.


Closing Bell: Saudi stocks extended gains mirroring rise in global peers

Closing Bell: Saudi stocks extended gains mirroring rise in global peers
Updated 29 March 2023

Closing Bell: Saudi stocks extended gains mirroring rise in global peers

Closing Bell: Saudi stocks extended gains mirroring rise in global peers

RIYADH: Like most major Gulf markets, Saudi stocks extended gains on Wednesday mirroring a rise in global peers after sentiment was lifted by receding fears of a global banking crisis and rising oil prices.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark stock index edged up 0.3 percent supported by gains in most sectors, led by healthcare and financials. Dr Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services added 2.3 percent and Al-Rajhi Bank rose 0.4 percent.

The parallel market, Nomu, also went up by 68.96 points or 0.35 percent to close at 19,603.35, while the MSCI Tadawul 30 Index went down by 0.22 percent to 1,420.05.

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR5.7 billion ($1.52 billion).

The top gainer was Arabian Pipes Co., whose share prices went up by 10 percent to SR45.65 followed by Al Kathiri Holding Co. and Al Hassan Ghazi Ibrahim Shaker Co., whose share prices rose 9.95 percent and 6.24 percent respectively.

Thimar Development Holding Co. was the worst performer. The company’s share prices dropped by 6.67 percent to SR41.30.

On the announcements front, Alhasoob Co. reported a drop in its profit by 44.31 percent to SR6.65 million in 2022, from SR11.94 million in 2021. In a statement given to Tadawul, the company attributed the decrease in profits to a fall in exports amid weak demand. The company’s share prices remained unchanged on Wednesday at SR218.

Meanwhile, Jazan Energy and Development Co., reported a surge in net profit by 44 percent in 2022 to SR16.5 million, compared to SR11.5 million in the year-ago period. The company’s profit was driven by SR31 million gains realized from the sale of a land plot in the Khabt Al-Falaq, Jazan.

As the profits of the company surged, the share prices of Jazan Energy and Development Co. went up 0.59 percent to SR13.68.

Saudi Fisheries Co. also announced its financial reports. It widened its 2022 net loss to SR68.79 million, compared to SR 34.12 million in the year-earlier period. As the losses deepened, the firm’s share prices dropped 1.65 percent to SR26.75.

Seera Group Holding, in 2022, narrowed its net loss to SR46 million, from a loss of SR373 million in 2021. Despite narrowing the losses, the company’s share prices fell by 3.02 percent to SR21.80.

Another firm that narrowed its net loss was Knowledge Economic City. The company trimmed its 2022 net loss to SR 19.38 million, from SAR 22.08 million a year earlier. The firm’s share prices, on Wednesday, rose 0.82 percent to SR14.7.

Naseej International Trading Co. also narrowed its losses to SR1.37 million in 2022, from SR85.51 million in 2021. Driven by better performance in 2021, the firm’s share prices rose by 0.46 percent to SR43.8.

Gulf Coperation Council markets

Dubai’s main share index was up 0.7 percent, on its second positive day in a row, supported by financial and real estate stocks. Emirates NBD Bank, Dubai’s largest lender, gained 0.8 percent, and blue-chip developer Emaar Properties inched up 0.5 percent.

In Abu Dhabi, the benchmark index rose 0.3 percent, boosted by a 1.2 percent climb in the UAE’s largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank, and a 0.7 percent lift in Abu Dhabi Ports.

The benchmark stock index in Qatar advanced 0.5 percent on its second day of gains on a boost from financial and industrial stocks. Shariah-compliant lender Masraf Al Rayan continued its surge for a third day to open nearly up 6 percent, while chemical makers Industries Qatar jumped more than 3 percent.


Aramco JV breaks ground on China petchem complex

Aramco JV breaks ground on China petchem complex
Updated 29 March 2023

Aramco JV breaks ground on China petchem complex

Aramco JV breaks ground on China petchem complex

RIYADH: A ground-breaking ceremony was held on Wednesday for a major integrated refinery and petrochemical complex being developed by Huajin Aramco Petrochemical Co.

Saudi Aramco will own a 30 percent stake in the joint venture, while Norinco Group and Panjin Xincheng Industrial Group will hold 51 percent and 19 percent shares respectively. The project will be built in the city of Panjin in China’s Liaoning province. On March 26, it was announced that the complex was expected to be fully operational by 2026. Aramco is expected to supply up to 210,000 barrels per day of crude oil feedstock to the facility.

Mohammed Y. Al Qahtani, Aramco executive vice president of downstream, said: “This complex is a cornerstone of our efforts to support a world-class, integrated downstream sector here in China, as petrochemicals will play a vital role in our joint success. Once complete, we believe HAPCO will be a model for China’s modern petrochemicals industry moving forward, able to deliver lower carbon products, chemicals, and advanced materials.”

Mohammed Y. Al Qahtani, Aramco executive vice president of downstream. (Supplied)

The facility will combine a 300,000 barrels per day refinery and a petrochemical plant with an annual production capacity of 1.65 million metric tons of ethylene and 2 million metric tons of paraxylene. 

On March 27, Aramco also announced it had signed definitive agreements to acquire a 10 percent interest in Shenzhen-listed Rongsheng Petrochemical Co. Ltd. for $3.6 billion. 

Combined, the partnership with Rongsheng and the HAPCO joint venture would see Aramco supply a total of 690,000 bpd of crude to high chemical conversion assets in China, in line with its strategy of converting four million bpd of crude to chemicals by 2030.

Norinco Group Deputy General Manager Zou Wenchao said that the new venture will “play an important role in deepening economic and trade cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia and achieving common development and prosperity.”

“The project is of great significance for Panjin to promote increasing chemicals and specialty products, strengthening the integration of the refining and chemical industry. It is a symbolic project for Panjin as it seeks to accelerate the development of an important national petrochemical and fine chemical industry base,” said Jia Fei, Panjin Xincheng chairman of the board.


UAE approves 24 initiatives as it aims doubling country’s re-export by 2030   

UAE approves 24 initiatives as it aims doubling country’s re-export by 2030   
Updated 29 March 2023

UAE approves 24 initiatives as it aims doubling country’s re-export by 2030   

UAE approves 24 initiatives as it aims doubling country’s re-export by 2030   

RIYADH: The UAE government has approved 24 national initiatives that will increase the country’s re-export sector by 100 percent over the next seven years.   

The creation of a national re-export committee is one of the proposals, which primarily supports raising re-export rates. In collaboration with local governments, they focus on developing new specialized fields and a value-added program for re-export.   

“We will double the country’s re-export by developing specialized areas in cooperation with local governments, establishing the International Trade Links Center, launching supportive programs, and increasing foreign investments in the service sector,” UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum said.   

The total value of the UAE’s re-exports surpassed 600 billion dirhams ($163.3 billion) for the first time in 2022, reaching 614.6 billion dirhams, which is a 14 percent increase compared to 2021. 

The country’s 10 biggest re-export markets experienced significant annual growth, with a total gain of 13 percent compared to 2021.   

Saudi Arabia, Iraq, India, Oman, Kuwait, China, the US, Hong Kong and Belgium are among the 10 markets. The main re-export products were telephones and diamonds, but airplane components, petroleum liquids, headphones, and vehicle parts also witnessed significant development.   

At the discussion, the cabinet examined more than 19 projects aimed at transforming the UAE into a worldwide talent magnet, as well as the findings of the Supreme Committee for Free Trade Negotiations.   

“We signed comprehensive economic partnership agreements with four countries, and we are currently negotiating with many other countries, and we are beginning to see the impact of the agreements on the country’s foreign trade figures... 2023 will be the strongest economic year for the country in its history, God willing,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted.   

The cabinet also approved the restructuring of the Digital Wellbeing Council headed by Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and the Emirates Genome Council headed by Khalid bin Mohammed bin Zayed. The two councils strive to improve the quality of life for the people of the UAE.   

“Science and knowledge have always been key drivers of the UAE’s development. Our priority is to ensure the best healthcare and quality of life for our people,” UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said.