WTO’s Abu Dhabi Declaration to empower least developed nations  

WTO’s Abu Dhabi Declaration to empower least developed nations  
In a significant development for developing countries, ministers approved a decision responding to a 23-year-old mandate. Supplied
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Updated 03 March 2024
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WTO’s Abu Dhabi Declaration to empower least developed nations  

WTO’s Abu Dhabi Declaration to empower least developed nations  

RIYADH: The least developed countries are set to benefit from the Abu Dhabi Declaration at the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference, improving global supply chain access. 

Trade deals, aimed at fostering new agreements, will extend international trading system benefits to more nations, following intensive negotiations, as reported by the UAE’s official news agency, WAM. 

Members have agreed to implement Special and Preferential Treatment for Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and Technical Barriers to Trade. This effort supports producers in the least developed countries, facilitating their global supply chain access, the WAM report stated. 

The report added that the current measures of SPS constitute a staggering 90 percent of non-tariff trade barriers, posing a significant obstacle for smaller nations and being viewed as discriminatory. 

In a significant development for developing countries, ministers approved a decision responding to a 23-year-old mandate. The aim is to revamp special and differential treatment provisions for improved precision, effectiveness, and operational functionality. 

The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade and MC13 Chair, Thani Al-Zeyoudi, described the declaration as a significant milestone for the UAE and global trade. 

“It has been a momentous week for Abu Dhabi, for the UAE, and for global trade. I would like to thank the delegations from every member for their diligence and dedication to the negotiation and for their ceaseless efforts in making the global trading system more robust, more efficient and, most importantly, more accessible,” he said. 

The minister added that even in areas where final agreements have not been reached, issues that previously seemed unsolvable can now be unlocked — clearing the way for further progress in the coming months.  

Substantial progress has also been achieved in dispute resolution, as there is now an agreement to fulfill the MC12 mandate by establishing a comprehensive and efficient Dispute Settlement system by the end of 2024. This entails the adoption of various reform pathways by the participating members. 

Regarding e-commerce, members have agreed to extend the moratorium on customs duties for electronic transmissions for an additional two years. This decision implies that trade involving purely digital products and services will remain tariff-free until MC14 in Cameroon. 

Ministers also adopted a ministerial decision to extend the moratorium on non-violation and situation complaints related to the agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights until MC14. 

“Delivering the Abu Dhabi Declaration of outcomes is a true testament to the value that members continue to attach to the WTO and its pivotal role in ensuring an orderly global system of trade rules,” said Al-Zeyoudi. 

“With the adopted Abu Dhabi Declaration, we have demonstrated that we can deliver to ensure the global trading system remains a vital engine of growth and development for nations around the world. We must build on these significant achievements and remain united for global trade,” he added.  

The WAM report quoted Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organization, stating that the global body serves as a foundation of stability and resilience in an economic and geopolitical landscape filled with uncertainties and exogenous shocks. 

“Trade remains a vital force for improving people’s lives, and for helping businesses and countries cope with the impact of these shocks. Let us get some rest, then regroup and resume,” she said. 

MC13, hosted by the UAE’s Ministry of Economy and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, took place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center from Feb. 26 to March 2. 


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. 


Saudi firms launch $365m fund to boost real estate development in Eastern Province

Saudi firms launch $365m fund to boost real estate development in Eastern Province
Updated 29 May 2024
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Saudi firms launch $365m fund to boost real estate development in Eastern Province

Saudi firms launch $365m fund to boost real estate development in Eastern Province

RIYADH: Real estate development in the Eastern Province is set to receive a boost as two Saudi firms agree to launch a fund worth SR1.37 billion ($365 million) to drive investment in the sector.

Mohammed Al-Nahdi Real Estate and Alinma Investment, the investment arm of Alinma Bank, have announced the launch of the Alinma-Al-Nahdi Real Estate Fund, a property reserve to develop prime land strategically situated in the Eastern Province spanning an area of over 1.6 million sq. m.

In a statement, Abdullah bin Salmeen Al-Nahdi, CEO of Mohammed Al Nahdi Real Estate, emphasized that the fund’s launch reflects his company’s dedication to shaping the Kingdom’s property landscape.

He also underscored his firm’s dedication to enriching its investment portfolio by introducing unique projects to address the housing needs outlined in Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Vision.

The CEO explained that his property firm will develop the land to become the premier destination for housing and real estate investment in the EP. 

This development will encompass integrated residential communities, public buildings, commercial zones, and entertainment areas. It aims to provide a comfortable and safe residential environment for citizens while enhancing the region’s quality of life.

Al-Nahdi pointed out that the sales permit has been issued, and the project will be sold in stages during the implementation works. This will allow investors and buyers to benefit from diverse and flexible ownership options that suit their needs and aspirations.

The CEO highlighted that the sales permit has been issued, and the project will be progressively released during the implementation phase. 

Mazin Fawaz Baghdadi, CEO and managing director at Alinma Investment, said that the fund’s investment objective is to achieve medium-term capital growth through direct investments in the Kingdom’s real estate sector.

Additionally, Baghdadi emphasized the significant role of real estate development funds as tools that stimulate investment and increase the supply of established land through developmental and urban projects in the Eastern Province.

He stressed that this initiative aligns with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 by boosting the supply of housing units.

As per the announcement, the land is situated along King Abdulaziz Road and GCC Road in Dhahran, adjacent to the Ajyal residential district, one of Saudi Aramco’s major model housing developments. 

This strategic location facilitates convenient access to key landmarks in Dammam, Alkhobar, and Dhahran.

Headquartered in Alkhobar and founded in 1993, Mohammed Al-Nahdi Real Estate is a property company with a rich portfolio of notable projects.

According to its website, Alinma Investment is a Saudi closed joint stock firm that was established by Alinma Bank with a capital of SR1 billion and a paid-up capital of SR500 million.

The business is a leading provider of a comprehensive range of Shariah-compliant investment products and services, utilizing the latest advancements in communication and advanced technological systems.