IMF Opens Regional Office in Riyadh to Strengthen Partnership with Middle Eastern Countries

The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning speaks at the conference organized by the IMF, in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning speaks at the conference organized by the IMF, in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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IMF Opens Regional Office in Riyadh to Strengthen Partnership with Middle Eastern Countries

The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning speaks at the conference organized by the IMF, in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning speaks at the conference organized by the IMF, in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has inaugurated its regional office in Riyadh with the aim to strengthen partnership with countries in the Middle East and beyond, engage with regional institutions, and improve relations with governments in countries of the region.

In October 2022, Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan, signed with the Fund’s Director General, Kristalina Georgieva, a memorandum of understanding to establish a regional IMF office in the Kingdom.

Wednesday’s inauguration came during the launch of a conference organized by the IMF, in cooperation with the Finance Ministry, under the title, “Industrial Policy to Promote Economic Diversification,” in the presence of Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Al-Ibrahim.

A statement issued by the IMF said that the new office “will scale up capacity building, regional surveillance, and outreach to promote stability, growth, and regional integration. It will strengthen the IMF’s engagement with regional institutions, governments, and other stakeholders.”

“The IMF is grateful for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s financial contribution to boost capacity development to IMF members—including fragile states,” it added.

According to the IMF, the first director of the regional office will be Abdoul Aziz Wane, from Senegal, who is “a seasoned IMF leader with deep knowledge of the institution and a vast network of policymakers and academics across the world.”

Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the opening of a regional office for the IMF in Saudi Arabia is evidence of the international institution’s recognition of the strength of the Saudi economy on the one hand, and of the position it enjoys regionally and internationally.

Addressing the conference on Wednesday, Al-Ibrahim said Saudi Arabia will witness a shift in economic diversification, pointing to a need to encourage openness to local and global competition in order to ensure that the country’s industry is able to flourish deservedly and as quickly as possible.

Since the launch of an integrated program within Saudi Vision 2030 to reduce dependence on oil and diversify other sources of income, the Kingdom has witnessed fundamental changes in the legislative and political system that have led to transforming the business environment, creating new sectors, and building huge projects such as NEOM and the Red Sea, the minister underlined.

To promote sustainable development in local industries, Al-Ibrahim stated that the focus remains on stimulating local and international competitiveness. He stressed that this exposure to the international market encourages companies to continuously improve and innovate to maintain their competitive advantage.

The IMF conference is held over two days, and aims to review the basic principles of industrial policy and draw lessons from its successes and failures in other regions.



Gold Subdued as US Dollar, Yields Firm; Traders Await Inflation Data

A view shows ingots of 99.99 percent pure gold in a workroom during production at Krastsvetmet precious metals plant in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia, May 23, 2024.  REUTERS/Alexander Manzyuk
A view shows ingots of 99.99 percent pure gold in a workroom during production at Krastsvetmet precious metals plant in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia, May 23, 2024. REUTERS/Alexander Manzyuk
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Gold Subdued as US Dollar, Yields Firm; Traders Await Inflation Data

A view shows ingots of 99.99 percent pure gold in a workroom during production at Krastsvetmet precious metals plant in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia, May 23, 2024.  REUTERS/Alexander Manzyuk
A view shows ingots of 99.99 percent pure gold in a workroom during production at Krastsvetmet precious metals plant in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia, May 23, 2024. REUTERS/Alexander Manzyuk

Gold prices edged lower on Wednesday as the US dollar and Treasury yields held firm ahead of key inflation data, which could offer more clarity on the Federal Reserve's interest rate trajectory.
Spot gold eased 0.2% to $2,354.76 per ounce by 0711 GMT. Prices had hit an all-time high of $2,449.89 on May 20, said Reuters.
US gold futures fell 0.1% to $2,355.10.
The dollar held steady against its rivals, making gold less attractive for other currency holders, while benchmark US 10-year bond yields rose to multi-week peaks.
"Investors will try to book profit and prices are trading near $2,350. So, prices have not corrected but it's a kind of a healthy consolidation after a very sharp rally last Monday," said ANZ commodity strategist Soni Kumari.
"Investors will try to position themselves in gold because overall long-term fundamentals are looking pretty strong for gold at the moment."
The US core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) data, the Fed's preferred measure for inflation, is due on Friday.
"A softer US core PCE release would make the job easier for gold to reclaim the $2,400 level, given the possible rate-cut timing implications," said Tim Waterer, chief market analyst at KCM Trade in a note.
Traders currently pricing in about a 59% chance of a rate cut by November, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.
While gold is used as a hedge against inflation, rate hikes raise the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.
Spot silver rose 0.3% to $32.19, platinum was down 0.4% to $1,058.95 and palladium was unchanged at $973.02.
Meanwhile, BHP Group said it needed more time to engage with Anglo American, a week after the London-listed miner rejected BHP's 38.6 billion pounds ($49.20 billion) offer ahead of a final bid deadline later in the day.
The International Monetary Fund upgraded China's GDP growth forecasts for 2024 and 2025 after a "strong" first quarter. China is a key consumer of bullion and other industrial metals.