China says hopes it can reach trade agreement with US as soon as possible

US advisers said there were no plans for Trump and Jinping to meet. (AFP)
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Updated 09 December 2019

China says hopes it can reach trade agreement with US as soon as possible

  • Washington’s next round of tariffs against Chinese goods are scheduled to take effect on Dec. 15

BEIJING: China said on Monday that it hoped to make a trade deal with the US as soon as possible, amid intense discussions before fresh US tariffs on Chinese imports are due to kick in at the end of the week.

Beijing hopes it can reach a trade agreement with the US that satisfies both sides, Assistant Commerce Minister Ren Hongbin told reporters on Monday.

“On the question of China-US trade talks and negotiations, we wish that both sides can, on the foundation of equality and mutual respect, push forward negotiations, and in consideration of each others’ core interests, reach an agreement that satisfies all sides as soon as possible,” Ren said.

China and the US are negotiating a so-called “phase one” deal aimed at de-escalating their prolonged trade dispute, but it is unclear whether such an agreement can be reached in the near term.

Washington’s next round of tariffs against Chinese goods are scheduled to take effect on Dec. 15.

China has demanded that some of the existing US tariffs imposed on about $375 billion worth of its exports be removed, in addition to cancelation of the Dec. 15 tariffs on some $156 billion of its remaining exports to the US.

US President Donald Trump has demanded that China commit to specific minimum purchases of US agricultural products, among other concessions on intellectual property rights, currency and access to China’s financial services markets.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Friday that the two sides had talked almost daily, but there were currently no plans for face-to-face talks or a signing ceremony between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

With less than a week to go before the deadline amid “intense” negotiations, Kudlow said Trump would make the final decision on the tariffs, which would hit Chinese-made cellphones, laptop computers, toys and clothing.

“We’ll have to see, but right now we’re moving along,” Trump said last week. “On Dec. 15 , something could happen, but we are not discussing that yet. We are having very good discussions with China, however.”


Saudi Arabia Plans $15bn technology fund with private investors

Updated 31 sec ago

Saudi Arabia Plans $15bn technology fund with private investors

  • Investments in the fourth industrial technology expected to reach $200 billion in the Kingdom
  • Fund to invest in robotics, artificial intelligence, and wireless technology

RIYADH: A Saudi public-private partnership will launch a $15 billion technology fund to advance the digital infrastructure in the Kingdom, Haytham AlOhali, vice minister of the Ministry of Communications & Information Technology (MCIT) announced on Wednesday, during the Saudi 4th Industrial Revolution conference held in Riyadh.

Telecom and technology operators invest between $3 billion and $4 billion annually in digital infrastructure, fiber infrastructure, Internet networks and 5G services, and this is not enough for the Kingdom to take a lead, said AlOhali.

"We will transform in Saudi Arabia into an economy based on technology, information, capabilities and skills, and it will bear fruit for the future with huge investments from more than 10,000 industrial facilities worth $25 billion," he said, during the two-day-conference.

The investments in the fourth industrial technology are expected to reach $200 billion in the Kingdom, with value creation coming from improved efficiency and reduction in cost over a 10 year period, said AlOhali.

There are 13,000 solar energy centers that rely on 5G to implement their services, with 10 million smart meters in the Kingdom, while 60 percent of cities are covered by 5G and 45 percent of the Kingdom's populated areas receive 5G, he said.

Saudi Arabia has invested in the mobile infrastructure leading the Kingdom from rank 105 in terms of speed to the 4th in the world, he said.

Advanced technology from the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is expected to generate around $1 trillion for the Saudi economy in new revenue streams, a senior Saudi official said on Wednesday.

The Kingdom will enjoy economic boosts from robotics, artificial intelligence, and wireless production models as it pushes for more smarter cities and infrastructure.

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Saudi Arabia suspended world’s largest desalination and power plant privatization due to pandemic — official

Updated 38 min 1 sec ago

Saudi Arabia suspended world’s largest desalination and power plant privatization due to pandemic — official

  • Tender process began in summer of 2020
  • National Center for Privatization & PPP CEO Rayyan Nagadi spoke

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has suspended the privatization of Ras Al Khair Desalination and Power Plant due to the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, which slowed the responses it got from bidders, National Center for Privatization & PPP CEO Rayyan Nagadi said.

“It is clear that the pandemic repercussions affected the response of companies in the world to a project of the size of the Ras Al-Khair plant,” he said.

Suspension of the world’s biggest desalination and power plant privatization was announced by the Privatization Supervisory Committee for the Environment, Water and Agriculture on Monday.

This decision was made to capitalize on knowledge and capacity built in the Kingdom as a result of many years of experience in the areas of water desalination, new technologies, R&D and supply chains, the committee said at the time.

Reaching the decision to cancel the project had passed through stages that took into account that the desalination assets had developed their own strategies for a long time, and the tender process began in the summer of 2020 through the development of studies, with the interest of local and international developers, he told Al Arabiya on Wednesday.

The country aims at launching such major projects with efficiency, and will resume privatization of other projects in other sectors, including the education sector, said Nagadi.

Several ministries are working on initiatives aimed at facilitating the process of establishing companies, and facilitating the process of participation from the private sector, all in the context of strengthening the privatization environment in the Kingdom, he said.


Volkswagen lifts margin outlook again after record profit

Updated 56 min 7 sec ago

Volkswagen lifts margin outlook again after record profit

  • H1 operating profit reached 11.4 billion euros
  • Lowers outlook for deliveries on chip shortage

FRANKFURT: Europe’s largest carmaker Volkswagen on Thursday raised its profit margin target for the second time in less than three months, pointing to record earnings in the first half of 2021 that even blew past pre-pandemic levels.
The company said it now expected an operating return on sales of 6.0-7.5 percent, having previously guided for 5.5-7 percent and nudged up its forecast for net cash flow at its automotive division, now expected to be much stronger in 2021.
First-half operating profit before special items reached 11.4 billion euros ($13.5 billion), above the previous record of 10 billion euros achieved in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc in the global economy.
The strong increase was in part driven by high demand for high-margin luxury Porsches and Audis.
“We’re keeping up our high pace, both operationally and strategically,” Chief Executive Herbert Diess said in a statement, published only hours after the carmaker, along with partners, launched a bid for French-listed Europcar.
“Our electric offensive is picking up momentum and we will keep on increasing its pace in the months to come,” said Diess, who aims for Volkswagen to overtake Tesla as the world’s largest electric vehicle player by 2025.
Porsche SE, Volkswagen’s largest shareholder, also raised it outlook following the carmaker’s result, now forecasting profit after tax of 3.4 billion to 4.9 billion euros in 2021.
Shares in Volkswagen were indicated to open 0.7 percent higher in pre-market trade.
The global car sector has been hit by a shortage of crucial semiconductors, with numerous rivals, including Daimler , BMW and GM, adjusting or halting production, and Volkswagen accounted for that in its deliveries forecast.
“The risk of bottlenecks and disruption in the supply of semiconductor components has intensified throughout the industry,” the company said, lowering the outlook for deliveries to customers.
It now expects deliveries to be up noticeably in 2021 from the 9.3 million last year, having previously expected them to rise “significantly.”


Shell profit soars to two-year high as oil and gas prices rebound

Updated 29 July 2021

Shell profit soars to two-year high as oil and gas prices rebound

  • Profits surge to $5.5 billion, highest since late 2018
  • Shell boosts dividend by 38 percent

LONDON: Royal Dutch Shell boosted its dividend and launched a $2 billion share buyback program on Thursday after a sharp rise in oil and gas prices drove second quarter profits to their highest in more than two years.
As profits across the industry recovered from last year’s pandemic-led collapse in energy demand, peers TotalEnergies and Norway’s Equinor also announced share buybacks.
The Anglo-Dutch company saw a surge in cash generation, boosted by higher commodity prices and a recovery in global energy demand, which also helped it to cut debt.
“We are stepping up our shareholder distributions today, increasing dividends and starting share buybacks, while we continue to invest for the future of energy,” Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said in a statement.
Adjusted earnings rose to $5.53 billion, the highest since the fourth quarter of 2018, exceeding an average analyst forecast provided by the company for a $5.07 billion profit.
That compares with earnings of $638 million a year earlier.
Apart from higher fuel prices, stronger profits from Shell’s marketing division, the world’s biggest network of petrol stations, also boosted the results.
Still, fuel sales in the quarter were well below pre-pandemic levels at 4.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in the second quarter, up 9 percent from 4.16 million bpd in the first quarter.


Ever Given, the ship that blocked the Suez Canal, arrives in Rotterdam

Updated 29 July 2021

Ever Given, the ship that blocked the Suez Canal, arrives in Rotterdam

  • Ship to unload until Aug. 3 before departing for Felixstowe, England
  • Ship carrying about 18,300 containers left Egypt on July 7

ROTTERDAM: The container ship Ever Given, which got stuck in the Suez Canal for six days in March, arrived in the Dutch port of Rotterdam on Thursday after being released by authorities in Egypt.
It was scheduled to dock at Rotterdam’s ECT Delta terminal for unloading until Aug. 3 before departing for Felixstowe, England, the port said.
The vessel, one of the world’s largest container ships, became jammed across the canal in high winds on March 23, halting traffic in both directions and disrupting global trade.
Roughly 15 percent of world shipping traffic transits the Suez Canal, the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.
The 400-meter (1,312-foot) vessel, which is carrying about 18,300 containers, left Egypt on July 7, 106 days after becoming wedged across a southern section of the waterway.