Chinese leader Xi Jinping warns Davos forum against ‘new Cold War’

Chinese President Xi Jinping warned global leaders at an all-virtual Davos forum against starting a ‘new Cold War’ while he championed multilateralism. (World Economic Forum/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 26 January 2021

Chinese leader Xi Jinping warns Davos forum against ‘new Cold War’

  • Xi Jinping presents himself as the defender of multilateralism

PARIS: Chinese President Xi Jinping warned global leaders at an all-virtual Davos forum Monday against starting a “new Cold War” while he championed multilateralism.
Representing the only major economy to record economic growth last year, Xi presented himself as the defender of multilateralism, as he did at the same forum four years ago when Donald Trump was about to assume the US presidency.
Without naming the United States, Xi seemed to have a message for Trump’s successor Joe Biden, who entered the White House just a few days ago, but who is not addressing the annual World Economic Forum (WEF).
“To build small cliques or start a new Cold War, to reject, threaten or intimidate others... will only push the world into division,” Xi told the world’s political and economic elite as the Biden administration plans to revitalize global alliances to counter China’s growing influence.
Trump had chosen open confrontation and verbal attacks, without tangible results for the enormous US trade deficit with China.
Though Biden may be dismantling one by one the controversial measures of the Trump era, he has nonetheless signaled the United States will closely look out for its own interests.
An executive order is to give US companies and products priority in contracting with the federal government as part of an overall plan to save industrial jobs by increasing investments in factories and workers.
Meanwhile, European leaders presented agendas of their own at the WEF — normally held in the Swiss ski resort of Davos but taking place virtually this year because of the pandemic.
German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier defended a controversial accord signed by the European Union and China in late December to provide increased mutual market access.
The deal duplicates “a lot of the arrangements that the US already has with China,” Altmaier said.
Herbert Diess, head of the German auto giant Volkswagen, which has several plants in China, noted that the country represented a great opportunity for European companies.
But some members of the European Parliament and activist groups say the accord should be contingent on Beijing’s ratifying international conventions banning forced labor.
And Kenneth Roth, head of Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental organization, commented on Twitter that Xi “promotes global collaboration on Covid-19, so long as it doesn’t involve investigating his three-week cover-up of human-to-human transmission in Wuhan, which enabled the virus to go global.”
A year ago, the emergence of a mysterious flu-like disease in China prompted few comments at the forum when it took place at its usual site in Switzerland.
A year later, the world is still struggling to contain the coronavirus, which has killed more than two million people and cost 225 million jobs, according to the UN’s International Labour Organization.
The world’s richest people have barely been touched, the non-governmental organization Oxfam charged.
Meanwhile, “it could take more than a decade for the world’s poorest to recover,” Oxfam said in the study titled “The Inequality Virus.”
Optimism raised late last year by new vaccines has been tempered by production delays and new variants, and many countries are again mulling lockdowns to stem the spread of the virus.
But European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde nonetheless forecast that 2021 will be “the year of recovery.”
She said that while renewed economic activity “seems to be a little bit delayed,” it “should not be derailed.”
Other forum subjects broached on the first day was global taxation of digital giants, a priority for France that until recently has been opposed by the United States.
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire welcomed a more conciliatory tone from the new Biden administration on the subject.
He hoped that a multilateral accord under the auspices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development could be reached by the middle of this year.


World Bank approves $400m green plan for logistics and transportation in Egypt

Updated 05 October 2022

World Bank approves $400m green plan for logistics and transportation in Egypt

  • The project is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 965,000 tons over the next 30 years while increasing freight capacity

WASHINGTON: The World Bank has approved a $400 million development-financing agreement to help boost Egypt’s logistics and transportation sectors and facilitate the transition to low-carbon technology along the Alexandria–the 6th of October–Greater Cairo Area railway corridor.

The Egyptian railway system is one of the largest in Africa. Although the main focus along the Alexandria–the 6th of October–Greater Cairo Area corridor is on passenger services, there are also three freight trains in both directions each day.

The Cairo Alexandria Trade Logistics Development Project plans to build a railway bypass to circumvent the congested corridor. It will provide freight trains with an alternate route to the west of the Greater Cairo area, between the Alexandria Sea Port and the new 6th of October Dry Port. By 2030, the bypass is expected to allow 15 container trains a day to access the dry port, and 50 by 2060. More freight trains will run between Alexandria Port, Upper Egypt and the Red Sea.

The transportation sector is the second-largest contributor to Egypt’s greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for more than 19 percent of the total, but the carbon footprint of transporting containers and other freight by train is smaller than that of road transportation. The development initiative is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 965,000 tons over a 30-year period, according to the bank.

“Reforming the transportation and logistics sectors is vital to Egypt’s competitiveness and economic development,” said Egyptian Transport Minister Kamel El-Wazir.

“This new project introduces several improvements in those vital sectors. The improvements are aligned with Egypt’s pressing development priorities, which include decarbonization, trade facilitation, private-sector participation, and gender balance in the workplace.

“Increasing the number of containers moved by rail from zero to 184,000 per year is one of the project’s key objectives. This flow of containers is primarily between the Alexandria Sea Port and the 6th of October Dry Port, both privately operated and railway oriented.”

Officials said the project will help Egypt integrate into global value networks and become a regional economic powerhouse. Given the predicted reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, it is also expected make a substantial contribution to the country’s 2050 National Climate Change Strategy.

“This operation is part of a wider set of efforts dedicated to offer timely and comprehensive support to Egypt’s economic development and climate change plans,” said Marina Wes, the World Bank’s country director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti.

“We hope that through supporting more job creation, including for women, a cleaner environment, and providing safer mobility, the operation will contribute toward a brighter and more prosperous future for all Egyptians.”


Global alliance on green economy launched in Dubai

Updated 04 October 2022

Global alliance on green economy launched in Dubai

  • UAE’s Economy Ministry is setting up shop inside the immersive virtual world

DUBAI: A “Global Alliance on Green Economy” was launched at the 8th World Green Economy Summit, which concluded in Dubai.

The summit was held under the theme “Climate action leadership through collaboration: The roadmap to net-zero.” A large number of ministers, experts, decision-makers, officials, representatives of institutions, and the academic community from around the world took part in the summit.

The alliance aims to build a coalition of countries, prioritizing a green economy in the context of climate action and sustainable development, to enhance the capacity of developing countries, provide support for their green economy transition projects and exchange knowledge on implementation.

“If we want to fast-track our transition to a green economy, we must all work together, and to do so, we need one platform with one common objective. The UAE Global Alliance on Green Economy seeks to provide such a platform,” said Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE minister of climate change and environment.

Bet on tech

The UAE, which already boasts the world’s tallest skyscraper and has launched a bold Mars mission, now hopes to become a pioneer in the depths of the metaverse.

In a project launched at Dubai’s gleaming Museum of the Future, it announced that the UAE’s Economy Ministry was setting up shop inside the immersive virtual world that is now taking shape. 

If we want to fast-track our transition to a green economy, we must all work together.

Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE minister of climate change and environment

Those who don their virtual reality goggles or use other means to venture within will find a ministry open for business with companies and even ready to sign bilateral agreements with foreign governments, officials said.

The metaverse is an online world where users will eventually be able to game, work and study, its proponents say — although it is still in a “test” phase, the UAE’s economy minister conceded.

Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri was speaking at the inaugural Dubai Metaverse Assembly, held at the museum whose innovative ring shape decorated with Arabic calligraphy flanks the city’s main thoroughfare.

Representatives of tech giants mingled with entrepreneurs and developers exploring the potential of the metaverse, a network of digital spaces intended as an extension of the physical world.

DFM adopts new methodology

Dubai Financial Market said on Monday it planned to adopt a new methodology for its main equities indices, which will come into effect in the fourth quarter, according to Reuters.

The Dubai bourse’s general index, Shariah index and sector indices, will be calculated by S&P Dow Jones Indices, it said in a statement.

A key improvement among the changes is a limit on the weighting of a listed company to 10 percent from 20 percent, which should result in a larger representation of companies on the DFM’s benchmarks, it said.

The Dubai bourse said the index calculation will be based on actual free float adjusted market capitalization, and that the indices will be rebalanced on a quarterly basis, from semi-annually currently.

The bourse plans to align its sectors with an industry classification standard which is followed by institutional clients, it said.

DFM will have seven sectors: Financials, industrials, real estate, utilities, communication services, materials and consumer staples.

The bourse has invited market participants for consultations on the index methodology ahead of possible changes, with the revised indexes to be launched in Q4, it said.

Related


Egyptian pound weakens the most in four months

Updated 03 October 2022

Egyptian pound weakens the most in four months

  • Foreign currency has dried up in Egypt over the last six months, forcing banks and importers to scramble to find dollars to pay for imports and putting pressure on the central bank to let its value weaken

CAIRO: Egypt weakened its currency on Monday by the most in more than four months, with the Egyptian pound falling by more than 0.10 pounds to the dollar, according to Refinitiv data.

The pound was trading at 19.62 to the dollar at 1337 GMT, down from 19.49 at the open.

Foreign currency has dried up in Egypt over the last six months, forcing banks and importers to scramble to find dollars to pay for imports and putting pressure on the central bank to let its value weaken.

Dollars have disappeared in part because of the higher cost of imported commodities, a drop in Russian and Ukrainian tourists and a flight of dollars from Egyptian treasury markets.

The last time the central bank allowed the currency to weaken so quickly was from May 22 to May 25, when it fell by 0.34 pounds against the dollar in three days.

The pound weakened to a record low on Dec. 21, 2016, when it traded at 19.80 pounds per dollar during intraday trade, according to Refinitiv. But in subsequent years it rebounded.

Egypt since March has been negotiating a financial support package from the IMF, which has long been urging it to allow greater exchange rate variability.


OPEC+ may consider output cut of more than 1 million bpd

Updated 02 October 2022

OPEC+ may consider output cut of more than 1 million bpd

  • The figure is slightly above estimates for a cut given last week

RIYADH:  The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies led by Russia, also known as OPEC+, will consider an oil output cut of more than a million barrels per day when it meets on Oct. 5, OPEC sources told Reuters on Sunday.

The figure is slightly above estimates for a cut given last week, which ranged between 500,000 bpd and 1 million bpd.

OPEC+ is meeting in person in Vienna for the first time since March 2020. “It is a meeting that is taking place at a very interesting global time,” one of the sources said.

The output cuts are being considered on the back of a slide in oil prices from multiyear highs reached in March and market volatility. Saudi Arabia first flagged the possibility of cuts to correct the market in August.

Earlier this week, a source familiar with Russian thinking said Moscow could suggest a cut of up to 1 million bpd, while an OPEC source put the likely figure closer to 500,000 bpd. Talks are expected to continue ahead of the meeting.

FASTFACTS

OPEC+ is meeting in person in Vienna for the first time since March 2020.

Saudi Arabia first flagged the possibility of cuts to correct the market in August.

The output cuts are being considered on the back of a slide in oil prices from multiyear highs reached in March and market volatility.

India cuts tax

The Indian government has cut a windfall tax on domestically produced crude oil to 8,000 ($97.99) rupees per ton from 10,500 rupees per ton from Sunday, after a decline in global oil prices.

India has also scrapped an export tax on jet fuel and halved export duties on diesel to 5 rupees per liter from Sunday, a government notification said.

NNPC transaction

Nigeria’s state-owned oil company NNPC Ltd. has bought the marketing business of unlisted OVH Energy, giving it access to 380 fuel stations in Africa’s largest oil producer and Togo, among other assets, the two companies said on Saturday.

OVH Energy Marketing, the owner and operator of Oando branded retail service stations, said the outlets would be rebranded NNPC and full integration is expected by the end of 2023.

The deal also gives NNPC access to eight liquefied petroleum gas plants, three aviation depots and 12 warehouses.

NNPC, which became a commercial entity in July, already owns more than 500 fuel stations across Nigeria and said it would be ready for an initial public offering by mid-next year.

Related


Saudi real GDP expected to rise by nearly 8 percent, say analysts

Updated 02 October 2022

Saudi real GDP expected to rise by nearly 8 percent, say analysts

  • Inflation is predicted to be 2.6 percent and 2.1 percent in 2022 and 2023 respectively: Al Rajhi Capital

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s budgeted revenues for 2023 are likely to be based on the Brent price at $76 per barrel, said Al Rajhi Capital in its assessment of the Kingdom’s budget figures.  

“For 2023, we believe oil revenues could reach SR754 billion ($200.7 billion) and non-oil revenue at SR417 billion,” said the head of research at Al Rajhi Capital Mazen Al Sudairi.

“Based on our assessment, the government’s 2023 budgeted revenues are likely based on an assumption of brent at around $76 a barrel.” 

Real gross domestic product growth is forecast to increase by nearly 8 percent year-on-year in 2022 and 3.1 percent year-on-year in 2023, according to Al-Rajhi Capital.

Inflation is expected to be 2.6 percent and 2.1 percent in 2022 and 2023 respectively, Al-Rajhi said.

Revised 2022 revenues are mostly in line with estimates, however, the expenditure budget is much higher than from an earlier announcement, it said.

The Kingdom’s Finance Ministry’s preliminary budget statement projected spending to reach SR1.11 trillion next year, with revenue of SR1.12 trillion. 

The 2023 spending budget was raised by 18 percent, with a slight fiscal surplus of SR9 billion expected for 2023.

The world’s largest oil exporter is expected to balance the books in the coming year, having emerged with a quickly developing balance sheet due to the rebound in crude. 

Saudi officials expressed intention to change the heavy reliance on petrodollars and “decouple” the Kingdom’s spending from oil volatility as it puts the country’s economy at the mercy of uncertainty in the oil market. 

Its budget surplus was recorded at SR78 billion in the second quarter of 2022, an almost 50 percent rise from the same time last year. 

Its revenue reached SR370.4 billion whereas expenditure totaled SR292.5 billion in the second quarter of this year, according to the ministry. 

The ministry’s estimates showed that oil revenue stood at SR250.4 billion, signaling an 89 percent year-on-year rise in the second quarter. 

However, the Kingdom’s non-oil revenues only rose by 3 percent to SR120 billion in the second quarter. 

Domestic debt reached SR604.8 billion at the end of June, up from SR558.8 billion in the previous half, showed the ministry data. 

The Finance Ministry’s data showed that the Kingdom’s external debt fell from SR379.3 billion to SR361.8 billion in the same period. 

The objectives of the state’s general budget for the fiscal year 2023 come as a continuation of the process of work to strengthen and develop the financial position of the Kingdom, Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said.

“The government attaches great importance to enhancing the support and social protection system and accelerating the pace of strategic spending on Vision (2030) programs and major projects to support economic growth,” Al-Jadaan added.

The Kingdom’s economy has demonstrated its strength and durability by achieving high growth rates, after taking many policies and measures with the aim of protecting the economy from the repercussions of inflation and supply chain challenges, the minister said.