China’s exports and imports fall in August as weak global demand keeps its economy under pressure 

China’s exports and imports fall in August as weak global demand keeps its economy under pressure 
Customs data released Thursday showed exports for August slumped 8.8 percent to $284.87 billion in the fourth straight month of decline. Imports slid 7.3 percent to $216.51 billion. Photo/Shutterstock
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Updated 07 September 2023
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China’s exports and imports fall in August as weak global demand keeps its economy under pressure 

China’s exports and imports fall in August as weak global demand keeps its economy under pressure 

HONG KONG: China’s exports and imports both fell in August from a year earlier, reflecting tepid global demand that is adding to pressures on its slowing economy. 

Customs data released Thursday showed exports for August slumped 8.8 percent to $284.87 billion in the fourth straight month of decline. Imports slid 7.3 percent to $216.51 billion. 

The total trade surplus fell to $68.36 billion from $80.6 billion in July. 

Chinese leaders have rolled out various policy measures to shore up the economy after the country’s rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic fizzled earlier than expected. 

The central bank has eased borrowing rules and cut mortgage rates for first-time home buyers while providing some tax relief measures for small businesses. 

So far, the authorities have avoided large-scale stimulus spending or broader tax cuts. 

Demand for Chinese exports weakened after the Federal Reserve and central banks in Europe and Asia began raising interest rates last year to cool inflation that was at multi-decade highs. 

Economists say much of the impact of those rate increases has yet to filter through major Western economies, where consumer spending has remained relatively strong. 

“Looking ahead, we expect exports to decline over the coming months before bottoming out toward the end of the year,” Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a report. 

“Most measures of export orders point to a more substantial pullback in foreign demand than has so far been reflected in the customs data,” he said. 

China’s trade has been gradually declining for the past two years, though August’s drops in exports and imports were less severe than in July, when exports fell 14.5 percent from a year earlier while imports were 12.4 percent lower. 

Politically sensitive exports to the US fell 17.4 percent from a year earlier to $45 billion, the customs data showed, while imports of US goods slid 4.9 percent to nearly $12 billion. 

China’s imports from Russia, mostly oil and gas, increased 13.3 percent from a year earlier to $11.52 billion. 

Chinese purchases of Russian energy have swelled, helping to offset revenue lost to Western sanctions imposed to punish the Kremlin for its invasion of Ukraine. 

Exports to the EU tumbled 10.5 percent from the same time last year to $41.3 billion, while imports of European goods declined 2.5 percent to $24.56 billion.


Saudi Arabia strengthens industrial ties with the Netherlands to drive economic growth 

Saudi Arabia strengthens industrial ties with the Netherlands to drive economic growth 
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Saudi Arabia strengthens industrial ties with the Netherlands to drive economic growth 

Saudi Arabia strengthens industrial ties with the Netherlands to drive economic growth 

RIYADH: Saudi-Dutch ties in the industrial and mining sector are set to strengthen, as the Kingdom’s industry minister visited some of the leading manufacturing firms in the Netherlands. 

Bandar Alkhorayef visited the Philips Medical Devices factory in Eindhoven, where he met with Edwin Paalvast, the executive board member and head of international markets at Philips. They discussed enhancing cooperation in the medical devices field and localizing this vital industry within Saudi Arabia. 

The Saudi minister’s visit to the Netherlands aimed to bolster cooperation and develop partnerships in various industrial activities between the two countries. 

Alkhorayef also visited FrieslandCampina, a leader in dairy products and their derivatives. In discussions with Marchel Gorselink, the general manager of research and development at FrieslandCampina, they explored the potential for establishing a research and development center in the Kingdom to enhance local production quality and food processing. 

Additionally, the minister met with David Haines, CEO of Upfield, to discuss cooperation in consumer products and plant-based food production. They shared expertise to contribute to food security goals and environmental sustainability. 

This visit aligns with Saudi Arabia’s ongoing efforts to enhance the role of its industrial and mining sectors in the national economy and promote growth pathways between the two countries in promising industries. It also seeks to attract quality investments and increase the penetration of Saudi non-oil exports into Dutch and European markets. 

During his meetings with Dutch ministers, including the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development, Liesje Schreinemacher, and the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, Micky Adriaansens, Alkhorayef focused on strengthening bilateral trade relations and exploring cooperation opportunities in industry, mining, trade, and investment.  

They also discussed developing strategic partnerships in various sectors, including manufacturing, advanced technology, and renewable energy. 

The visit highlights Saudi Arabia’s unique opportunities and capabilities in the industrial and mining sectors, along with its environmental conservation efforts and climate change initiatives, such as the Saudi Green and Middle East Green Initiatives. 

Additionally, Alkhorayef held discussions with officials at the Dutch Port of Rotterdam on ways to enhance cooperation in logistics, the Saudi Press Agency reported.  

During these sessions, they explored the Kingdom’s role as a supplier of vital minerals in the global supply chain and discussed investment cooperation with Dutch companies in metal processing and recycling. 

Earlier in May, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information served as a strategic partner in the Geospatial World Forum, a global event featuring over 300 speakers specializing in geospatial information.  

During the opening session, Mohammed Al-Sayel, president of the authority, emphasized the importance of geospatial information for decision-making in the rapidly growing Saudi economy.


Oil update: crude dips on concerns about demand, US stockpiles data awaited

Oil update: crude dips on concerns about demand, US stockpiles data awaited
Updated 30 May 2024
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Oil update: crude dips on concerns about demand, US stockpiles data awaited

Oil update: crude dips on concerns about demand, US stockpiles data awaited

SINGAPORE: Oil prices eased on Thursday after resilient US economic activity pointed to borrowing costs staying higher for longer in a potential blow to demand, according to Reuters.

Ahead of US crude oil stockpiles data due later in the day, Brent futures dipped 26 cents or 0.3 percent to $83.34 a barrel as of 09:30 a.m. Saudi time, while US West Texas Intermediate crude fell 23 cents or 0.3 percent to $79.00.

Both benchmarks are headed for monthly losses, with Brent futures on track for a decline of more than 5 percent from last month, while WTI was poised for a slide of over 3 percent.

“The broader risk-off environment has translated to some downward pressures on oil prices, which overrides the larger-than-expected drawdown in US crude inventories from the recent API data,” said Yeap Jun Rong, market strategist at IG.

US crude oil and gasoline inventories fell last week while distillates rose, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures on Wednesday.

The API figures showed crude stocks were down by 6.49 million barrels in the week ended May 24, the sources said, with gasoline inventories down by 452,000 barrels, and distillates up by 2.045 million barrels.

Analysts had projected US energy firms would pull 1.9 million barrels of crude out of storage while stocking 0.4 million barrels of distillates and 1 million barrels of gasoline.

Data from the US Energy Information Administration is due later on Thursday.

Rising global oil inventories through April due to soft fuel demand may strengthen the case for OPEC+ producers, which include the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia, to keep supply cuts in place when they meet on June 2, OPEC+ delegates and analysts say.

“A greater driver for oil prices ahead may revolve around the upcoming OPEC+ meeting this weekend, which could see OPEC members extending their current production cuts potentially till the end of the third quarter to support prices,” Yeap added.

Oil markets have been under pressure over expectations the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates higher for longer, with Brent settling at its lowest in more than three months on May 23.

US economic activity continued to expand from early April through mid-May but firms grew more pessimistic about the future while inflation increased at a modest pace, a Fed survey showed.

Higher borrowing costs tend to tie down funds and consumption, a negative for crude demand and prices. The Fed is now seen cutting rates in September at the earliest, compared to a June start that had been expected by markets at the beginning of the year.


Lucid, EVIQ sign MoU to set up high-speed public charging infrastructure in Saudi Arabia

Lucid, EVIQ sign MoU to set up high-speed public charging infrastructure in Saudi Arabia
Updated 29 May 2024
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Lucid, EVIQ sign MoU to set up high-speed public charging infrastructure in Saudi Arabia

Lucid, EVIQ sign MoU to set up high-speed public charging infrastructure in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is set to activate high-speed public charging infrastructure to support the adoption of electric vehicles, thanks to a new agreement. 

The memorandum of understanding between the electric car specialists Lucid and Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Co., also known as EVIQ, aims to foster cooperation and the exchange of expertise in developing and enhancing the Kingdom’s EV sector.

This contributes to the growing adoption of EVs in Saudi Arabia and bolstering the Kingdom’s position as a leading hub for innovation and development in the industry’s technology. 

Under the MoU, Lucid and EVIQ will collaborate to develop a high-speed public charging offering for Lucid customers, utilizing EVIQ’s stations to provide fast-charging capabilities. 

“By combining Lucid’s expertise in electric vehicle design, manufacturing, and sustainable mobility with EVIQ’s extensive experience in developing and operating public charging networks, including fast-charging stations, the collaboration will serve to drive innovation and accelerate EV ownership in Saudi Arabia,” Faisal Sultan, vice president and managing director Middle East at Lucid, said.

He added: “The collaboration between Lucid and EVIQ represents a significant step forward in addressing one of the key challenges hindering the mass adoption of electric vehicles — access to convenient and reliable charging infrastructure.” 

Lucid is dedicated to enhancing the ownership journey and simplifying the process of acquiring and maintaining the finest electric vehicle in the world. 

“Our mission is to provide the best-in-class EV chargers and technologies to empower drivers in Saudi to buy and use EVs with confidence,” EVIQ CEO Mohammad Bakr Gazzaz said.

He added: “Through this partnership with Lucid, we have taken another big step toward our goal of establishing a national network of fast charging locations by 2030 to enable and encourage the use of EVs across Saudi Arabia, in line with the Saudi Green Initiative and Vision 2030.”


WEF warns of political risk, says global economy is brightening

WEF warns of political risk, says global economy is brightening
Updated 29 May 2024
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WEF warns of political risk, says global economy is brightening

WEF warns of political risk, says global economy is brightening
  • Cautioned optimism underscores challenges for businesses and policymakers
  • MENA region expected to improve despite regional political tensions

LONDON: The World Economic Forum said on Wednesday that the global economy is poised to improve or remain stable this year, but it also warned of potential dangers stemming from geopolitical and domestic tensions.

“The latest Chief Economists Outlook points to welcome but tentative signs of improvement in the global economic climate,” said Saadia Zahidi, managing director of the WEF.

“This underscores the increasingly complex landscape that leaders are navigating. There is an urgent need for policymaking that not only looks to revive the engines of the global economy but also seeks to put in place the foundations of more inclusive, sustainable and resilient growth.”

The report highlighted that while the proportion of economists who feel optimistic about the economic outlook nearly doubled from the previous survey conducted in January, 97 percent of respondents anticipate that geopolitics will contribute to global economic volatility this year.

Furthermore, 83 percent said domestic politics would be a source of volatility in 2024, a year when nearly half the world’s population will be voting.

Experts predicted a positive outlook for the US and Asian economies, driven by decreasing inflation and robust markets.

The Middle East and North Africa region is also expected to experience moderate growth, with slight improvements since the previous survey, despite unstable political developments due to the ongoing Gaza conflict.

Despite escalating challenges for businesses and policymakers, the report identified technological transformation, artificial intelligence, and the green and energy transitions as key contributors to global growth, also driven by looser or unchanged fiscal and monetary policies.

“Despite some brightening of the near-term growth outlook, the latest results point to growing challenges for businesses and policymakers,” the WEF said in a press release.

“However, the views on the long-term prospects for the global economy are encouraging, with many policy opportunities to boost growth across high and low-income economies.”


Closing bell: TASI closes in green to reach 11,696 points 

Closing bell: TASI closes in green to reach 11,696 points 
Updated 29 May 2024
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Closing bell: TASI closes in green to reach 11,696 points 

Closing bell: TASI closes in green to reach 11,696 points 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index rose on Wednesday, gaining 36.57 points, or 0.31 percent, to close at 11,696.51. 

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR5.3 billion ($1.651 billion) as 128 of the listed stocks advanced, while 89 retreated.    

Similarly, the MSCI Tadawul Index increased by 11.40 points, or 0.79 percent, to close at 1,460.84. 

The Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu climbed by 68.14 points, or 0.26 percent, to close at 26,302.93. This comes as 24 of the listed stocks advanced while as many as 37 retreated.  

The top-performing stock of the day was the Saudi National Bank, with its share price surging by 5.76 percent to SR34.90. 

Other standout performers included The Mediterranean and Gulf Insurance and Reinsurance Co., and Anaam International Holding Group, whose share prices soared by 4.98 percent and 4.59 percent, reaching SR27.40 and SR1.14, respectively.  

Saudi Chemical Co. and National Medical Care Co. also showed notable performance. 

The worst performer was the National Co. for Glass Industries, whose share price dropped by 4.31 percent to SR41.05. 

Other underperformers included Al-Babtain Power and Telecommunication Co., as well as Saudi Pharmaceutical Industries and Medical Appliances Corp., whose share prices dropped by 3.77 percent and 3.59 percent, to stand at SR37.05 and SR32.20, respectively.  

Additional laggards in the market were Thob Al Aseel Co. and CHUBB Arabia Cooperative Insurance Co. 

In the parallel market, Nomu, Knowledge Net Co. was the top gainer, with its share price surging by 15.97 percent to SR30.5. 

Other top gainers in the parallel market were Shatirah House Restaurant Co. and Nofoth Food Products Co., with their share prices surging by 8.70 percent and 7.23 percent to reach SR12 and SR19.28, respectively. 

Miral Dental Clinics Co. was the major loser on Nomu, as its share price slipped 10 percent to SR90.  

Osool and Bakheet Investment Co. and Al-Modawat Specialized Medical Co. were other major losers on Nomu. Their share prices dropped by 9.50 percent and 7.23 percent, reaching SR40 and SR154, respectively.