UAE, Malaysia Launch Negotiations to Establish a CEPA

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani al-Zeyoudi and Malaysian Minister of Investment, Trade, and Industry Tengku Zafrul Aziz during the signing ceremony (WAM)
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani al-Zeyoudi and Malaysian Minister of Investment, Trade, and Industry Tengku Zafrul Aziz during the signing ceremony (WAM)
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UAE, Malaysia Launch Negotiations to Establish a CEPA

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani al-Zeyoudi and Malaysian Minister of Investment, Trade, and Industry Tengku Zafrul Aziz during the signing ceremony (WAM)
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani al-Zeyoudi and Malaysian Minister of Investment, Trade, and Industry Tengku Zafrul Aziz during the signing ceremony (WAM)

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani al-Zeyoudi and Malaysian Minister of Investment, Trade, and Industry Tengku Zafrul Aziz have signed a joint statement agreeing to launch negotiations to establish a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

Zeyoudi underlined on Tuesday the developing relations between the UAE and Malaysia, stating that the negotiations have built upon solid growth in bilateral trade and investment over recent years, which witnessed a positive development in various areas of cooperation.

Non-oil trade between the UAE and Malaysia continued its upward trajectory over the past five years, reaching $4.6 billion in 2022, a growth of five percent compared to 2021 and up 31 percent and 18 percent compared to 2020 and 2019, respectively.

The UAE is Malaysia's 17th trade partner globally and the second in the Middle East, accounting for 32 percent of Malaysia's trade with Arab countries.

"The UAE is also the first destination for Malaysian merchandise exports to Arab countries, accounting for 40 percent of its exports to the region. The other way, Malaysia ranks eighth globally for UAE exports and 19th in re-exports," said the Minister.

Zeyoudi highlighted that the value of Malaysian investments in the UAE amount to $150 million across sectors of industry, building and construction, real estate, trade, transport, storage, financial activities, insurance, and professional and technical activities.

UAE investments in Malaysia amount to more than $220 million, including more than $51 million in the industrial sector.

He stressed that the CEPA with Malaysia comes as part of the UAE's plans to expand its network of trade partners with strategically essential markets, noting that Malaysia is the fourth largest economy in the Southeast Asian region.

The CEPA agreement will contribute to the consolidation of trade and investment relations between the two countries, launching a new era of partnership that will accelerate opportunities for the business communities in the two countries, especially in priority sectors, said the Emirati Minister.

The Malaysian Minister indicated that with the start of negotiations for the Malaysia-UAE CEPA, Kuala Lumpur is committed to enhancing the longstanding economic partnership with the UAE.

He explained that the agreement would set the stage for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial economic framework to forge stronger strategic collaborations, foster innovation, spur economic growth, and create job opportunities for both nations.

The negotiations with Malaysia are the latest under the UAE's ambitious foreign trade agenda, which has seen the conclusion of four CEPAs with India, Israel, Indonesia, and Turkey.



Gold Slips from Record Levels as Dollar Holds Ground

A jeweller shows a gold bar at his shop in downtown Kuwait City on May 20, 2024. (Photo by YASSER AL-ZAYYAT / AFP)
A jeweller shows a gold bar at his shop in downtown Kuwait City on May 20, 2024. (Photo by YASSER AL-ZAYYAT / AFP)
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Gold Slips from Record Levels as Dollar Holds Ground

A jeweller shows a gold bar at his shop in downtown Kuwait City on May 20, 2024. (Photo by YASSER AL-ZAYYAT / AFP)
A jeweller shows a gold bar at his shop in downtown Kuwait City on May 20, 2024. (Photo by YASSER AL-ZAYYAT / AFP)

Gold prices eased on Tuesday as the US dollar firmed, the metal backing away from a record peak hit in the previous session as a fusion of bullish factors including growing US rate cut bets and geopolitical risks drove safe-haven demand.
Spot gold was down 0.6% at $2,410.73 per ounce, as of 0335 GMT after hitting a record high of $2440.49 on Monday.
US gold futures fell 1% at $2,414.00, Reuters reported.
The dollar rose 0.1% making greenback-priced bullion less attractive to buyers holding other currencies.
Lower interest rates and geopolitical uncertainty make bullion a favorable investment.
"The market expectations of interest rate cuts starting this year has gone up a bit with the cooling inflation numbers that came in last week and on the other side, geopolitical risks played a major role in pushing gold prices to a fresh record high," said ANZ commodity strategist Soni Kumari.
"China buying has been exceptional in the first quarter with their bar and coin demand being very strong, recording its highest since 2017 and these factors are offsetting the investment outflows in ETFs (exchange traded funds) and pushing prices higher."
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was killed when his helicopter crashed in poor weather in mountains near the Azerbaijan border on Sunday.
Minutes of the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting due on Wednesday along with comments from a slew of Fed speakers will be keenly awaited this week.
Spot silver fell 1.5% to $31.35 an ounce after hitting a more than 11-year high in the last session.
"Silver is the beta for gold, investors are attracted to silver because fundamentals are very strong coupled with growing industrial demand and it's a cheaper alternative to gold," Kumari said.
Platinum lost 1.1% to $1,035.15, after hitting its highest since May 12, 2023 on Monday. Palladium dropped 1.8% to $1,008.91.


Oil Prices Fall on Fear of High US Interest Rates Depressing Demand

The sun is seen behind a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, US, November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Angus Mordant
The sun is seen behind a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, US, November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Angus Mordant
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Oil Prices Fall on Fear of High US Interest Rates Depressing Demand

The sun is seen behind a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, US, November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Angus Mordant
The sun is seen behind a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, US, November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Angus Mordant

Oil prices fell in early Asian trade on Tuesday, with investors anticipating higher-for-longer US inflation and interest rates will depress consumer and industrial demand.

Brent crude futures declined 12 cents, or 0.1%, to $83.34 a barrel by 0041 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) eased 8 cents, or 0.1%, to $79.72 a barrel.

Both benchmarks fell less than 1% on Monday as US Federal Reserve officials said they were awaiting more signs of slowing inflation before considering interest rate cuts, Reuters reported.

"Fears of weaker demand led to selling as the prospect of Fed rate cut became more distant," said analyst Toshitaka Tazawa at Fujitomi Securities.

Fed Vice Chair Philip Jefferson said on Monday it was too early to tell if the inflation slowdown is "long lasting," while Vice Chair Michael Barr said restrictive policy needs more time. Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic said it will "take a while" for the central bank to be confident that price growth slowdown is sustainable.

Lower interest rates reduce borrowing costs, freeing up funds which could boost economic growth and demand for oil.


Saudi Arabia’s National Carrier Orders More than 100 New Airbus Jets

Saudia said it is increasing flights and seat capacity across its existing 100-plus destinations to meet the country's goal of attracting more than 150 million tourists by 2030. (AFP file)
Saudia said it is increasing flights and seat capacity across its existing 100-plus destinations to meet the country's goal of attracting more than 150 million tourists by 2030. (AFP file)
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Saudi Arabia’s National Carrier Orders More than 100 New Airbus Jets

Saudia said it is increasing flights and seat capacity across its existing 100-plus destinations to meet the country's goal of attracting more than 150 million tourists by 2030. (AFP file)
Saudia said it is increasing flights and seat capacity across its existing 100-plus destinations to meet the country's goal of attracting more than 150 million tourists by 2030. (AFP file)

Saudi Arabia's national airline ordered more than 100 new Airbus jets, it said on Monday.

Saudia Group, which represents the Saudia airline and its budget carrier Flyadeal, said it ordered 105 aircraft from the French aerospace company's A320neo family of jets, including 12 A320neos and 93 A321neos. That brings Saudia Group's Airbus aircraft order backlog to 144 of the A320neo family planes.

Saudia said it is increasing flights and seat capacity across its existing 100-plus destinations to meet the country's goal of attracting more than 150 million tourists by 2030.

In February, Airbus reported healthy results for its commercial aircraft business in its latest annual earnings report and set a target of 800 commercial aircraft deliveries, 67 more than in 2023.

Airbus’s fortunes contrast with struggles at US rival Boeing, which seemed finally to be recovering from two crashes of Max jets in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people in Indonesia and Ethiopia. But on Jan. 5, a door plug blew out of an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9, and the company has been reeling ever since.

Airbus has benefitted from its decision to launch the A321neo, a single-aisle aircraft with 180 to 230 seats. “Neo” stands for new engine option, meaning highly fuel efficient engines that save airlines money on one of their biggest costs.

Boeing rushed to match it with the Max, a 737 equipped with new, more efficient engines, only to run into a myriad of technical issues.


Saudi Arabia Crude Exports Rise to 6.413 Mln bpd in March

FILE PHOTO: A gas flame is seen in the desert near the Khurais oilfield, about 160 km from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 23, 2008. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A gas flame is seen in the desert near the Khurais oilfield, about 160 km from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 23, 2008. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji/File Photo
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Saudi Arabia Crude Exports Rise to 6.413 Mln bpd in March

FILE PHOTO: A gas flame is seen in the desert near the Khurais oilfield, about 160 km from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 23, 2008. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A gas flame is seen in the desert near the Khurais oilfield, about 160 km from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 23, 2008. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji/File Photo

Saudi Arabia's crude oil exports in March rose to 6.413 million barrels per day (bpd) from 6.317 million bpd in February, official data showed on Monday.
Monthly export figures are provided by Riyadh and other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to the Joint Organizations Data Initiative (JODI), which published them on its website, Reuters said.


ADNOC Buys Stake in NextDecade's Rio Grande LNG, Inks Supply Deal

FILE PHOTO: Logos of ADNOC are seen at Gastech, the world's biggest expo for the gas industry, in Chiba, Japan, April 4, 2017.    REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Logos of ADNOC are seen at Gastech, the world's biggest expo for the gas industry, in Chiba, Japan, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo
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ADNOC Buys Stake in NextDecade's Rio Grande LNG, Inks Supply Deal

FILE PHOTO: Logos of ADNOC are seen at Gastech, the world's biggest expo for the gas industry, in Chiba, Japan, April 4, 2017.    REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Logos of ADNOC are seen at Gastech, the world's biggest expo for the gas industry, in Chiba, Japan, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) on Monday said it has acquired an 11.7% stake in phase 1 of NextDecade's Rio Grande LNG export facility.

ADNOC and NextDecade have also entered into a 20-year supply agreement for 1.9 million tons per annum (mtpa) of LNG.


Aramco Signs Agreement with Pasqal to Deploy 1st Quantum Computer in Saudi Arabia

As per the agreement, Pasqal will install, maintain, and operate a 200-qubit quantum computer, which is scheduled for deployment in the second half of 2025. SPA
As per the agreement, Pasqal will install, maintain, and operate a 200-qubit quantum computer, which is scheduled for deployment in the second half of 2025. SPA
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Aramco Signs Agreement with Pasqal to Deploy 1st Quantum Computer in Saudi Arabia

As per the agreement, Pasqal will install, maintain, and operate a 200-qubit quantum computer, which is scheduled for deployment in the second half of 2025. SPA
As per the agreement, Pasqal will install, maintain, and operate a 200-qubit quantum computer, which is scheduled for deployment in the second half of 2025. SPA

Saudi Aramco announced on Monday that it has signed an agreement with Pasqal, a global leader in neutral atom quantum computing, to install the first quantum computer in the Kingdom.
As per the agreement, Pasqal will install, maintain, and operate a 200-qubit quantum computer, which is scheduled for deployment in the second half of 2025.
According to the statement, the quantum computer will initially use the "analog mode" approach. Within the following year, the system will be upgraded to the more advanced hybrid "analog-digital mode", which is more powerful and able to solve even more complex problems.

"Aramco is delighted to partner with Pasqal to bring cutting-edge, high-performance quantum computing capabilities to the Kingdom. In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, we believe it is crucial to seize opportunities presented by new, impactful technologies and we aim to pioneer the use of quantum computing in the energy sector,” said Aramco Executive Vice President of Technology and Innovation Ahmad Al-Khowaiter.

Pasqal CEO and Co-founder Georges-Olivier Reymond said that the era of quantum computing is no longer "confined to theory, it is transitioning to real-world applications, empowering organizations to solve previously intractable problems at scale.”

Through this agreement, he added, the commercial adoption of this transformative technology in Saudi Arabia will be accelerated.

According to the statement, Pasqal and Aramco intend to leverage the quantum computer to identify new use cases, and have the ambitious vision of establishing a powerhouse for quantum research in the Kingdom. This would involve leading academic institutions with the aim of fostering breakthroughs in quantum algorithm development — a crucial step for unlocking the true potential of quantum computing.

The agreement also increases Pasqal's activity in Saudi Arabia; it established an office in the Kingdom in 2023, and in 2022, Aramco and Pasqal signed an MoU to collaborate on quantum computing capabilities and applications in the energy sector. In 2023, Aramco's Wa'ed Ventures also participated in Pasqal's Series B fundraising round, said the statement.


Saudi E-commerce Set to Reach $44 Bln by 2030

The BIBAN e-commerce gathering in Saudi Arabia (SPA)
The BIBAN e-commerce gathering in Saudi Arabia (SPA)
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Saudi E-commerce Set to Reach $44 Bln by 2030

The BIBAN e-commerce gathering in Saudi Arabia (SPA)
The BIBAN e-commerce gathering in Saudi Arabia (SPA)

Saudi Arabia is working to improve its investment climate for e-commerce, aiming to attract more local and international companies to tap into this rapidly growing market, projected to reach $44 billion by 2030.

Enhancing the e-commerce sector is a key goal of the National Transformation Program, supporting Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030.”

This move is vital for boosting the national economy, as the Kingdom ranks among the top 10 fastest-growing countries in e-commerce.

The program plays a crucial role in empowering the private sector and improving government efficiency to drive the country's transformation and meet the vision's targets.

Experts emphasize the importance of e-commerce for large companies, both locally and globally, as they increasingly turn to online platforms to expand their businesses.

Saudi Arabia is creating a competitive environment for both local and foreign companies by adopting new technologies, which is energizing the Saudi market.

Dr. Mohammed bin Duleim Al-Qahtani, an economic analyst and academic at King Faisal University, predicts a 13.5% annual growth in Saudi Arabia's e-commerce sector, surpassing the global average of 11.2%.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, he expected the sector, currently valued at $21 billion, to exceed $30 billion by 2027 and reach around $44 billion by 2030.

Al-Qahtani highlighted Saudi Arabia’s focus on digital infrastructure and e-commerce, leveraging its strategic location.

He stressed the importance of expanding e-commerce and digital banking, suggesting internationalizing branches of major local banks.

Al-Qahtani also emphasized global efforts, led by G20 nations like Saudi Arabia, to address e-commerce challenges and ensure cyber and financial security.


ECB Pressures Banks to Speed Up Russia Exits

The logo of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) is seen on their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 14, 2023. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
The logo of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) is seen on their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 14, 2023. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
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ECB Pressures Banks to Speed Up Russia Exits

The logo of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) is seen on their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 14, 2023. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
The logo of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) is seen on their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 14, 2023. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

The European Central Bank has told all Eurozone lenders with operations in Russia to speed up their withdrawal plans because of fears they could be hit by US punitive measures.

The ECB has written to lenders in recent weeks asking for detailed plans on their exit strategies, according to several people with knowledge of the communication, the Financial Times wrote.

Lenders need to provide the regulator with an “action plan” for their Russian business as early as June, some of the people said.

Last week, Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International was forced to abandon a deal to swap assets in Russia for ones in Europe after pressure from US authorities.

The US intervention has led to concern at the ECB that RBI and other lenders could be targeted in future crackdowns.

“This could lead to serious damage to the banking system if the US authorities take sanctions,” said a person briefed on the ECB’s position.

The letters underline the increasing pressure from Washington over European groups that might support Russia’s war in Ukraine more than two years after the invasion.

“The ECB’s response to the US interventions shows the big dependency of Europe on the US,” said an adviser to the banks with Russian subsidiaries.

“We are more followers than leaders on judgments involving European companies.”

The US Treasury did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The person briefed on the ECB’s position said supervisors there wanted to avoid European banks facing a similar fate as ABLV, a Latvian bank that was shut down after the US Treasury department accused it of “institutionalized money laundering” as well as breaches of North Korean sanctions and cut off its access to the US financial system in 2018.

The central bank has been calling on Eurozone banks to look for an exit from Russia since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

At one extreme, RBI, which has the biggest exposure to Russia among the European lenders, has been told to reduce its lending in the country by two-thirds from its current level by 2026.

The bank, which faces potential fines by the ECB if it fails to comply, has already shrunk its Russian loan book by 56% since the war began.

Meanwhile, other banks including Italy’s UniCredit — the lender with the second-biggest exposure — have been asked to provide the ECB with a detailed breakdown of their plans for their operations. UniCredit has been given a deadline of June 1 to respond.

Last Thursday, a Russian court ordered that UniCredit's assets, accounts and property, as well as shares in two subsidiaries, be seized as part of a lawsuit over an aborted gas project involving the Italian bank, court documents showed.
UniCredit and OTP — the Hungarian bank that is not under direct supervision of the ECB — have in the past year started to repatriate profits from their Russian subsidiaries in the form of quarterly dividend payments.


Kuwait to Buy 500MW of Power Through GCC Interconnection Authority

Kuwaiti Electricity Ministry's acting undersecretary, Haitham Al-Ali, and CEO of the GCC Interconnection Authority, Engineer Ahmed Al-Ebrahim, sign the contracts on Sunday (KUNA)
Kuwaiti Electricity Ministry's acting undersecretary, Haitham Al-Ali, and CEO of the GCC Interconnection Authority, Engineer Ahmed Al-Ebrahim, sign the contracts on Sunday (KUNA)
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Kuwait to Buy 500MW of Power Through GCC Interconnection Authority

Kuwaiti Electricity Ministry's acting undersecretary, Haitham Al-Ali, and CEO of the GCC Interconnection Authority, Engineer Ahmed Al-Ebrahim, sign the contracts on Sunday (KUNA)
Kuwaiti Electricity Ministry's acting undersecretary, Haitham Al-Ali, and CEO of the GCC Interconnection Authority, Engineer Ahmed Al-Ebrahim, sign the contracts on Sunday (KUNA)

Kuwait on Sunday signed contracts to buy 500 megawatts (MW) of electricity through the Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) to avoid summer blackouts.
The contracts are for 300 MW from Oman and 200 MW from Qatar, the electricity ministry's acting undersecretary, Haitham Al-Ali, told reporters at the signing event, adding that the contracts would last from June 1 to Aug. 31.
Al-Ali explained that the contracts were signed directly with the Gulf Interconnection Authority, which coordinates these transactions with Oman and Qatar on behalf of Kuwait.
He said this brings technical and economic benefits to Kuwait, especially with the proximity of the offers submitted for energy purchase prices to the cost of production.
The GCC Electricity Interconnection Authority oversees the management of a transmission system that integrates the power grids of all six member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The CEO of the GCC Interconnection Authority, Engineer Ahmed Al-Ebrahim, said in a similar statement that the energy market is one of the most efficient markets in the region.
He noted that the Gulf Electricity Market enables GCC countries to enter into bilateral agreements through a platform, which is responsible for the settlement and billing system that covers the needs of traders.
El-Ebrahim pointed out that the Ministry and the Gulf Interconnection Authority have agreed on the offers submitted for the supply of electric energy to Kuwait during the coming June so that they can be renewed during the coming July and August according to the conditions and needs of interconnected networks from member states.
The State of Kuwait owns 26.7% of the founding shares of the Gulf Interconnection Authority, a joint stock company registered by GCC member states to create an interconnection of power grids between its members, ensure energy supply to the networks of GCC member states, invest and achieve economic benefits in the areas of energy exchange and to diversify the sources of their energy imports.


Aljadaan Heads Kingdom's Delegation to Saudi-Chinese Meetings in Beijing

Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Aljadaan. SPA
Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Aljadaan. SPA
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Aljadaan Heads Kingdom's Delegation to Saudi-Chinese Meetings in Beijing

Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Aljadaan. SPA
Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Aljadaan. SPA

The Saudi Minister of Finance, Mohammed Aljadaan, heads the Kingdom's delegation participating in the two-day Saudi-Chinese meetings to be held on Monday in Beijing.

The Saudi delegation includes the Vice Minister of Finance Abdulmuhsen Alkhalaf, as well as officials from the Ministry of Finance; the National Center For Privatization (NCP); the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA); the Saudi Capital Market Authority (CMA); the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority (ZATCA); the National Development Fund (NDF); the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD); and the National Infrastructure Fund.

Aljadaan and the Chinese Minister of Finance, Lan Fo'an, will co-chair the third meeting of the Financial Sub-Committee for the High-level Chinese-Saudi Joint Committee.

Aljadaan will also participate in a roundtable meeting organized by the Saudi National Center for Privatization in cooperation with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

Alkhalaf and the Chinese Vice Minister of Finance, Liao Min, will co-chair a roundtable meeting hosted by the Chinese Ministry of Finance, and organized by China Development Bank (CDB) and China Investment Corporation (CIC).

Aljadaan will also meet with several Chinese ministers, officials, and investors to discuss the latest economic and financial developments, topics of common interest, as well as investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia in light of Saudi Vision 2030.

These meetings come as an extension of efforts to strengthen cooperation and enhance relations between Saudi Arabia and China in various fields to promote global economic growth.