Inter-Arab trade at $700bn: Union of Arab Chambers

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Secretary-general of the Union of Arab Chambers Khaled Hanafy, 2nd right, at the 13th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi. (Supplied)
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Secretary-general of the Union of Arab Chambers Khaled Hanafy. (Supplied)
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Updated 29 February 2024
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Inter-Arab trade at $700bn: Union of Arab Chambers

  • Secretary-general attends World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi
  • ‘The Arab region’s presence in such events aids in shaping policies for freer global trade’

SAO PAULO: Inter-Arab trade stands at $700 billion, constituting 10-11 percent of global trade, the secretary-general of the Union of Arab Chambers said on Thursday during the 13th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi.

In an interview with Emirates News Agency on the sidelines of the event, Khaled Hanafy highlighted the potential for increased trade, expanded business opportunities, job creation and economic growth across the Arab world through standardization, improved logistics and private sector engagement.

The UAE’s strategic positioning and robust infrastructure make it a preferred hub for international businesses seeking access to international markets, Hanafy said.

Its hosting of prestigious events such as COP28 and the WTO Ministerial Conference underscores its global leadership, communication prowess and influence in international forums, he added.

“The Arab region’s presence in such events aids in shaping policies for freer global trade,” Hanafy said, adding that the conference strengthens the UAC’s position as a representative of the Arab private sector within the WTO, potentially leading to observer status in key technical committees.

This, he said, would empower the UAC to exert greater influence on decisions shaping international trade flows.

The Arab world’s private sector contributes over 75 percent of the region’s gross domestic product, roughly equivalent to $3 trillion. This sector also plays a vital role in employment generation.

Hanafy emphasized the need for even greater private sector involvement in trade to foster business growth and achieve sustainable development across Arab nations.

He championed the UAC’s role in fostering trade cooperation within the Arab world, encompassing both commercial and investment activities.

Hanafy also advocated for the establishment of the Arab Common Market, outlining essential principles for achieving economic unity across the region.

This was the official debut of the Arab private sector at a WTO Ministerial Conference.

With unprecedented access granted to businesses at the event, representatives from regional chambers of commerce seized the opportunity to voice their concerns and aspirations.

Hanafy emphasized the significance of this inclusion at a roundtable event on the sidelines, saying: “This is the first time the Arab private sector is welcomed. The Arab private sector must be here.

“This is a great opportunity. There’s an objective: We want to see the Arab private sector have a larger role.”

Promoting economic cooperation and integration across the Arab world, the UAC unites chambers of commerce, industry and agriculture from the 22 Arab League member states.

It supports governmental and civil society initiatives to strengthen regional economic ties in commerce, industry, agriculture, finance, investment and services.


Zain KSA introduces first 100% Saudi-made fleet tracking solution for businesses 

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Zain KSA introduces first 100% Saudi-made fleet tracking solution for businesses 

RIYADH: Saudi telecom provider Zain KSA has become the first operator in the Kingdom to offer a 100 percent domestically-made fleet tracking system for businesses.   

The new system is expected to empower businesses in Saudi Arabia to make informed decisions through comprehensive reports generated from precise data collection. 

The launch of the system, entirely made in the Kingdom for the business sector, integrates cutting-edge tracking devices that are locally designed, manufactured, and assembled under the country’s “Saudi Made” program, the company said in a statement. 

The telecom company further explained that the monitoring solution is a comprehensive cloud-based platform, providing businesses of all sizes with tools to optimize logistics operations, enhance travel routes, and minimize fuel consumption. This, in turn, reduces carbon emissions, preserves the environment, and fosters sustainability. 


Saudi Arabia and Spain strengthen collaboration in urban infrastructure and renewable energy sector

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Saudi Arabia and Spain strengthen collaboration in urban infrastructure and renewable energy sector

RIYADH: Saudi-Spanish collaboration is set to flourish in the fields of urban infrastructure development, renewable energy, and engineering technology after a high-level meeting in Madrid. 

During a three-day visit from April 15-17, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Municipal, Rural Affairs, and Housing, Majed Al-Hogail, met with executives from leading Spanish companies to explore collaboration opportunities. 

The tour is part of the Kingdom’s broader initiative to foster international partnerships that enhance its urban and infrastructure capabilities, the Saudi Press Agency reported.   

Al-Hogail’s engagements included a discussion with Pablo Bueno, CEO of TYPSA, focusing on potential collaboration in the fields of infrastructure solutions, energy efficiency, and sustainable urban development.   

They discussed activating a circular economy in buildings and infrastructure and creating new asset management platforms and engineering value solutions.  

Additionally, the minister met with José Vicente, CEO of Indra, one of the leading engineering technology and consulting firms, to discuss digital transformation in municipal services.   

This collaboration aims to enhance the quality of services provided to Saudi citizens and residents and foster innovation.  


New air route strengthening Saudi-China connectivity has inaugural flight

Updated 17 April 2024
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New air route strengthening Saudi-China connectivity has inaugural flight

RIYADH: With the inaugural flight of China Southern Airlines landing in Riyadh on April 16, Saudi Arabia and Beijing are further enhancing air connectivity.

The Chinese airplane arrived at the King Khalid International Airport at night, carrying approximately 247 passengers, achieving a load factor of 86 percent, according to Al-Ekhbariya Channel.

The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation previously announced the licensing of China Southern Airlines to conduct regular weekly passenger and freight flights from Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen to Riyadh during the summer season of 2024. 

This includes four passenger and commercial flights and three cargo flights commencing on April 16.


Turkiye will take steps to strengthen economic program, Erdogan says 

Updated 17 April 2024
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Turkiye will take steps to strengthen economic program, Erdogan says 

ANKARA: Turkiye will take steps to strengthen its medium-term economic program and the three main priorities are to increase public savings, prioritize investments and accelerate structural reforms, President Tayyip Erdogan said. 

Speaking on Tuesday evening after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan said his economic team had made preparations for such steps to strengthen the program, MTP, and, “hopefully we will share them with the public very soon.” 

“We have three main priorities in strengthening the MTP. These are to increase public sector savings, prioritize investments, and accelerate structural reforms.” 

Speaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting, Vice President Cevdet Yilmaz said both the finance ministry and the budget authority were carrying out studies on public sector savings, with more than 15 articles being worked upon. 

“We mean not only reducing expenditures, but making existing expenditures more efficient, prioritizing them, and making them contribute more to the economy’s competitiveness, efficiency and social welfare,” state broadcaster TRT reported him as saying. 

Erdogan also said on Tuesday evening that economic growth will approach 4 percent this year with a positive impact from exports, and forecast that the current account deficit will be 2.5 percent of gross domestic product at the end of the year. 

Official data on Wednesday showed that Turkiye’s current account deficit stood at $3.265 billion in February, less than a Reuters forecast for a deficit of $3.7 billion. 

Central Bank Governor Fatih Karahan told a panel in Washington on Tuesday that Turkiye is on track to reach its 36 percent inflation target by the end of the year after peaking at around 75 percent in the coming months. 


Saudi Arabia launches new program to boost wheat, barley productivity 

Updated 17 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia launches new program to boost wheat, barley productivity 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s wheat and barley production is set to strengthen, thanks to a new program aimed at inventorying 903 plant genetic resources from fruit trees.

The process of PGR entails collecting and documenting the genetic material of plants valuable for both present and future generations. 

It is integral to agro-biodiversity, covering crops, livestock, and related species, and serves as the cornerstone of food, agriculture, and nutritional security.

Launched by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, the implementation of the new program is based on three axes, according to a statement.

The first includes inventory, purification, and evaluation of local varieties, while the second entails cooperation with international bodies. Meanwhile, the third axis includes implementing a regional breeding program.

This move falls in line with the ministry’s vision to achieve sustainability of the environment and natural resources, ensuring water security, contributing to food protection, and improving the quality of life in the Kingdom.