EU Summit Highlights Fair Jobs, Economic Growth

EU Summit Highlights Fair Jobs, Economic Growth
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EU Summit Highlights Fair Jobs, Economic Growth

EU Summit Highlights Fair Jobs, Economic Growth

More than 20 EU leaders met in the Swedish city of Gothenburg on Friday to discuss social issues, including jobs, economic growth, education and culture, for the first such summit in 20 years.

The summit, named the Social Summit, aims to provide EU member states with new impetus to ensure that citizens have access to jobs with fair working conditions and that the labor market can remain competitive in the face of global and demographic changes.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who co-chaired the meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, said the summit was timely and highly needed to refocus the energies of the EU and member states on social welfare.

"Our economies and the world of business have changed drastically, which means our challenges are also changing, and we need new solutions to tackle them," Leuven said.

"These changes in the labor market, especially after the 2008 financial crisis, have led citizens to have growing political distrust," he added. "It is time for us to put people at the top of our priorities."

EU leaders participating in the meeting are expected to endorse a set of key principles called the "European Pillar of Social Rights" aimed at providing guidance to countries on how to enhance their social systems.

Non-binding recommendations call for improved access to the labor market, fair working conditions including wages that can provide a "decent standard of living" and social protection such as child care, health care and housing assistance for the homeless.

Juncker said that the main task, after the Summit, will be to ensure that these recommendations have an impact on every State in the European Union.

He also hoped that the Social Pillar won't be just a list of ambitious wishes. He expressed his desire that legislative proposals be launched, noting that "some of them are on the way."



IMF: Lebanon's Reforms Insufficient for Recovery

Lebanese policeman stand outside the parliament building in downtown Beirut, Lebanon October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
Lebanese policeman stand outside the parliament building in downtown Beirut, Lebanon October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
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IMF: Lebanon's Reforms Insufficient for Recovery

Lebanese policeman stand outside the parliament building in downtown Beirut, Lebanon October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
Lebanese policeman stand outside the parliament building in downtown Beirut, Lebanon October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Lebanon's economic reforms are insufficient to help lift the country out of its economic crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Thursday.

Ernesto Ramirez Rigo, the head of the IMF mission visiting Lebanon, said in a statement that Lebanon's ongoing refugee crisis, fighting with Israel at its Southern border and the spillover from the war in Gaza are exacerbating an already dire economic situation.

Israeli forces and Lebanon's Hezbollah have traded fire across Lebanon's southern border since the war in Gaza broke out in October last year.

The conflict "has internally displaced a significant number of people and caused damage to infrastructure, agriculture, and trade in southern Lebanon. Together with a decline in tourism, the high risks associated with the conflict create significant uncertainty to the economic outlook," Rigo said, Reuters reported.
Fiscal and monetary reforms carried out by Lebanon's finance ministry and the central bank, including steps to unify multiple exchange rates for the Lebanese pound and contain a currency slump, have helped reduce inflationary pressure, according to Rigo.

However, he said more needs to be done if Lebanon is to alleviate its financial crisis.

"These policy measures fall short of what is needed to enable a recovery from the crisis. Bank deposits remain frozen, and the banking sector is unable to provide credit to the economy, as the government and parliament have been unable to find a solution to the banking crisis," he added.

"Addressing the banks' losses while protecting depositors to the maximum extent possible and limiting recourse to scarce public resources in a credible and financially viable manner is indispensable to lay the foundation for economic recovery."

Since Lebanon's economy began to unravel in 2019, its currency has lost around 95% of its value, banks have locked most depositors out of their savings and more than 80% of the population has sunk below the poverty line.

The crisis erupted after decades of profligate spending and corruption among the ruling elite, some of whom led banks that lent heavily to the state.

The government estimates losses in the financial system total more than $70 billion, the majority of which were accrued at the central bank.

 

 

 

 

 


Saudi Industry Minister Discusses Mining Cooperation with Jordanian Companies

Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef holding talks in Jordan with Arab Mining Company chairman of the board Mohammed Ahmed Al-Shehhi - SPA
Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef holding talks in Jordan with Arab Mining Company chairman of the board Mohammed Ahmed Al-Shehhi - SPA
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Saudi Industry Minister Discusses Mining Cooperation with Jordanian Companies

Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef holding talks in Jordan with Arab Mining Company chairman of the board Mohammed Ahmed Al-Shehhi - SPA
Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef holding talks in Jordan with Arab Mining Company chairman of the board Mohammed Ahmed Al-Shehhi - SPA

Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef met in Jordan with Arab Mining Company chairman of the board Mohammed Ahmed Al-Shehhi to discuss ways of enhancing cooperation in the mining sector.
Alkhorayef and Al-Shehhi explored opportunities to leverage the mining resources available in both Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Eng. Khalid bin Saleh Al-Mudaifer, the vice minister of mining affairs, also attended the meeting, according to SPA.
During his official visit to Jordan, Alkhorayef also held meetings with officials from Jordanian companies operating in the mining sector.
In his discussions with officials from Jordan Phosphate Mines Company, they explored avenues of cooperation in phosphate extraction and production in light of Saudi Arabia's substantial phosphate reserves.
Additionally, the minister discussed cooperation with officials from the Arab Potash Company, reviewing the progress made in implementing the memorandum of understanding signed between the company and the Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma'aden). The deal aims to enhance collaboration in specialized fertilizers and products in both countries.
Alkhorayef’s visit to Jordan reflects the Kingdom's commitment to strengthen Saudi-Jordanian economic cooperation, particularly in the industrial and mining fields, exchange expertise, attract investments, and create jobs. These efforts aim to deepen the economic integration between Saudi Arabia and Jordan on multiple levels.


King Abdulaziz International Airport Achieves Top Places in 2023 ACI Rankings

King Abdulaziz International Airport gets crowned as one of the most advanced airports in air connectivity in the Middle East - SPA
King Abdulaziz International Airport gets crowned as one of the most advanced airports in air connectivity in the Middle East - SPA
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King Abdulaziz International Airport Achieves Top Places in 2023 ACI Rankings

King Abdulaziz International Airport gets crowned as one of the most advanced airports in air connectivity in the Middle East - SPA
King Abdulaziz International Airport gets crowned as one of the most advanced airports in air connectivity in the Middle East - SPA

King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) was crowned one of the most advanced airports in air connectivity in the Middle East by the Airports Council International (ACI).
During ACI's annual General Assembly Conference and Exhibition in Riyadh, KAIA placed third as the best airport in the field of air connectivity in the Middle East for 2023, SPA reported.
These results are an extension of the ongoing efforts of the Jeddah Airports Company, which manages and operates KAIA in using the latest technology, developing the infrastructure of the Kingdom's founder’s airport, upgrading the quality of services, and expanding the network of local and international air destinations to more than 125.
As part of its endeavor to achieve the national strategic objectives of civil aviation emanating from the Saudi Vision 2030, the Jeddah Airports Company continues to strengthen the position of KAIA as a global hub airport, and to provide a unique travel experience for all travelers, including tourists and visitors to the Grand Mosque of Makkah from around the world, with the airport achieving a record growth in operations of over 36%.

The airport also aims to increase the number of destinations to 135 by the end of 2024, achieving a growth of 6% compared to 2023.
Jeddah Airports Company CEO Eng. Mazen Johar unveiled the company's intention to upgrade the level of services to realize the goals of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy, which aims to increase operational efficiency and raise the capacity of KAIA to reach 114 million passengers by 2030.


Saudi EXIM Bank Signs Two Cooperation Agreements with Japan's SMBC, MUFG Banks

Two agreements were signed separately by Eng. Saad bin Abdulaziz Al-Khalab, CEO of Saudi EXIM Bank, along with Mr. Akihiro Fukudom, CEO of SMBC Bank and Hironori Kamizawa, CEO of MUFG Bank. - SPA
Two agreements were signed separately by Eng. Saad bin Abdulaziz Al-Khalab, CEO of Saudi EXIM Bank, along with Mr. Akihiro Fukudom, CEO of SMBC Bank and Hironori Kamizawa, CEO of MUFG Bank. - SPA
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Saudi EXIM Bank Signs Two Cooperation Agreements with Japan's SMBC, MUFG Banks

Two agreements were signed separately by Eng. Saad bin Abdulaziz Al-Khalab, CEO of Saudi EXIM Bank, along with Mr. Akihiro Fukudom, CEO of SMBC Bank and Hironori Kamizawa, CEO of MUFG Bank. - SPA
Two agreements were signed separately by Eng. Saad bin Abdulaziz Al-Khalab, CEO of Saudi EXIM Bank, along with Mr. Akihiro Fukudom, CEO of SMBC Bank and Hironori Kamizawa, CEO of MUFG Bank. - SPA

Saudi EXIM Bank signed two cooperation agreements with SMBC Business Banking and MUFG Bank, fostering cooperation and creating co-financing opportunities to promote non-oil exports in target markets, the Saudi EXIM Bank revealed in statement. This came on the sidelines of the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum in Tokyo.

According to the statement, the two agreements were signed separately by Eng. Saad bin Abdulaziz Al-Khalab, CEO of Saudi EXIM Bank, along with Mr. Akihiro Fukudom, CEO of SMBC Bank and Hironori Kamizawa, CEO of MUFG Bank.
Commenting on the partnerships, Eng. Saad Al-Khalab stated: "This collaboration with Japanese entities is part of our joint efforts to strengthen economic relations between both countries and achieve the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030. The acceleration of commercial projects between our nations toward broader horizons comes as a result of the strength, advanced economic status, and promising investment opportunities."
During the roundtable meeting, which brought together several ministers from both sides, Eng. Saad Al-Khalab reviewed Saudi EXIM Bank's activities with Japanese financial institutions and commercial companies to enhance economic and trade relations and identify projects of mutual interest, SPA reported.
During the financial sector's roundtable meeting, Al-Khalab emphasized the critical importance of collaborative efforts between all financial institutions and business sectors. This is to ensure the provision of comprehensive, incentivizing credit solutions that can accelerate the pace of trade and mutual and global investment activities.
The Saudi EXIM Bank aims to empower the Kingdom's non-oil national economy in accordance with Vision 2030. The bank is focused on enabling Saudi non-oil exports to expand and penetrate global markets by bridging financing gaps and reducing export risks.


Saudi Arabia, Spain Discuss Ways of Boosting Cooperation in Air Transportation

Photo by SPA
Photo by SPA
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Saudi Arabia, Spain Discuss Ways of Boosting Cooperation in Air Transportation

Photo by SPA
Photo by SPA

The Saudi Minister of Transport and Logistics, Eng. Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, met with the Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility of the Kingdom of Spain, Oscar Puente, on the sidelines of the International Transport Forum.

During the meeting, they discussed ways to enhance cooperation between the two countries in the fields of air transportation, the Haramain High Speed Railway, and modern technologies in the transportation and logistics sector

 

 


S&P: SoftBank Group Upgraded to 'BB+'

The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at SoftBank World 2017 conference in Tokyo, Japan, July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo
The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at SoftBank World 2017 conference in Tokyo, Japan, July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo
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S&P: SoftBank Group Upgraded to 'BB+'

The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at SoftBank World 2017 conference in Tokyo, Japan, July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo
The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at SoftBank World 2017 conference in Tokyo, Japan, July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

Credit ratings agency S&P said SoftBank Group was upgraded to 'BB+' and subordinated debt to 'B+' on improvement in asset Quality. According to the agency, the outlook is stable for the next one to two years.

SoftBank Group is likely to continue to stabilize its investment income and improve the quality of its investment portfolio to a greater degree than we had forecast, S&P said.

"We expect the company to maintain investment portfolio quality and steady key financial metrics at around their current range over the next one to two years by managing with a degree of discipline, even as it increases risky new growth investments."

S&P also raised the long-term issuer credit rating on Softbank Group to 'BB+' from 'BB'. It also raised to 'B+' from 'B' their rating on the company's subordinated debt.

"The outlook is stable, reflecting our expectation that the company can maintain a relatively stable financial position over the next year or so."


UK Inflation Slows to Near Three-year Low

A general view shows Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, and the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known by the name of the bell "Big Ben", in London on June 15, 2023. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)
A general view shows Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, and the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known by the name of the bell "Big Ben", in London on June 15, 2023. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)
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UK Inflation Slows to Near Three-year Low

A general view shows Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, and the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known by the name of the bell "Big Ben", in London on June 15, 2023. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)
A general view shows Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, and the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known by the name of the bell "Big Ben", in London on June 15, 2023. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

Britain's annual inflation rate slowed to a near three-year low in April as energy prices cooled further, official data showed Wednesday, boosting the governing Conservatives before this year's general election.

The Consumer Prices Index slowed to 2.3 percent from 3.2 percent in March, the Office for National Statistics revealed in a statement, though it was still faster than the 2.1 percent analysts were expecting.

April marked the lowest level since July 2021, when inflation had stood at the Bank of England's 2.0-percent target.

The news comes after the British central bank this month signalled a summer interest rate cut, as it held borrowing costs at a 16-year peak of 5.25 percent to further dampen price rises.

Following the inflation data, most analysts said a rate reduction was unlikely to occur as soon as June, when the European Central Bank is forecast to decrease eurozone borrowing costs, AFP reported.

The Federal Reserve is also expected to cut US interest rates this year as global inflationary pressures subside.

Sharply lower inflation sets the scene for this year's general election, as beleaguered Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Conservatives trail the main opposition Labor Party in opinion polls.

"Today marks a major moment for the economy, with inflation back to normal. This is proof that the plan is working and that the difficult decisions we have taken are paying off," insisted Sunak, who has made cutting inflation a top priority.

However, Labor finance spokesperson Rachel Reeves slammed the Tories' stewardship of the economy, which emerged in the first quarter from a shallow recession.

"Inflation has fallen but now is not the time for Conservative ministers to be popping champagne corks. Prices have soared, mortgages bills have risen and taxes are at a seventy year high," Reeves argued.

Prices are still rising on top of the sharp increases seen in recent years but at a far slower rate, with businesses and households weathering a cost-of-living crisis.

That has been worsened by elevated BoE interest rates which ramp up the cost of loans, denting disposable incomes and company investment, thereby crimping economic activity.

 


Saudi Arabia's Railway Network Sees 27% Surge in Q1 2024

Over eight million passengers traveled by train during this period, exceeding previous records - SPA
Over eight million passengers traveled by train during this period, exceeding previous records - SPA
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Saudi Arabia's Railway Network Sees 27% Surge in Q1 2024

Over eight million passengers traveled by train during this period, exceeding previous records - SPA
Over eight million passengers traveled by train during this period, exceeding previous records - SPA

Saudi Arabia's railway network is witnessing a surge in activity, with passenger and cargo figures reaching new highs in the first quarter of 2024.
Over eight million passengers traveled by train during this period, exceeding previous records. This growth was registered by both urban and intercity services, SPA reported.
Over two million passengers commuted by train within cities, representing a 1.7% increase compared to Q1 2023. Intercity travel saw even more significant growth, with over six million passengers opting for train travel – a remarkable 25.41% jump year-over-year.
The positive trend extends to the cargo sector as well. More than six million tons of goods and equipment were transported by rail in Q1 2024, representing a 10.7% increase over the same period in 2023.
These figures highlight the growing importance of railways in the Kingdom's infrastructure. Efficient and reliable train services support various sectors, including industry and tourism.

Train services also contribute to environmental preservation by reducing carbon emissions. Furthermore, railways are a safer and more secure means of transportation, contributing to the overall improvement in the quality of life.


China’s COMAC Seeks to Enter Saudi Aviation Market

A model of a Chinese-made COMAC (C919) aircraft at the company’s pavilion at the Future Aviation Forum in Riyadh. (Photo: Turky Al-Agili)
A model of a Chinese-made COMAC (C919) aircraft at the company’s pavilion at the Future Aviation Forum in Riyadh. (Photo: Turky Al-Agili)
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China’s COMAC Seeks to Enter Saudi Aviation Market

A model of a Chinese-made COMAC (C919) aircraft at the company’s pavilion at the Future Aviation Forum in Riyadh. (Photo: Turky Al-Agili)
A model of a Chinese-made COMAC (C919) aircraft at the company’s pavilion at the Future Aviation Forum in Riyadh. (Photo: Turky Al-Agili)

Chinese aircraft manufacturer COMAC, which launched its first international flights in February, expressed its desire to enter the Saudi aviation market and contribute to supporting the country’s ambition to be a global aviation hub.

COMAC Chairman He Dongfeng stressed that the COMAC cargo aircraft can connect Saudi Arabia with markets in the region, as well as in North Africa and neighboring Asian countries.

Speaking during a panel discussion, “A special conversation with the Commercial Aircraft Company about future growth plans and current trends,” on the second day of the Future Aviation Forum, he said that the Chinese government-owned company is working according to a comprehensive three-year strategy that aims to reduce carbon emissions.

COMAC, which was established in 2008, launched its first ever commercial flights during the month of May 2023, and then announced its intention to produce 150 C919 aircraft annually within five years, adding that it has already obtained more than 1,200 orders from local companies.

The C919 aircraft carries less than 200 passengers, and is the first locally manufactured passenger aircraft of this size. The Chinese company said that it began developing the airplane 15 years ago, to compete with the narrow-body Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 aircraft.

COMAC began its first production lines at a time when the two giants of the aircraft industry, Boeing and Airbus, are facing challenges related to meeting the delivery of aircraft on time, and others related to the shortage of supplies of engines and semiconductors.


IATA to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Will Open Regional Headquarters in Riyadh Soon

People attend the Future Aviation Forum in the Saudi capital Riyadh on May 20, 2024. (AFP)
People attend the Future Aviation Forum in the Saudi capital Riyadh on May 20, 2024. (AFP)
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IATA to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Will Open Regional Headquarters in Riyadh Soon

People attend the Future Aviation Forum in the Saudi capital Riyadh on May 20, 2024. (AFP)
People attend the Future Aviation Forum in the Saudi capital Riyadh on May 20, 2024. (AFP)

Kamil Al-Awadhi, Vice President of Africa and Middle East at International Air Transport Association (IATA), revealed that the association intends to open a regional headquarters in Riyadh to keep pace with the Kingdom’s “exceptional” transformation in the aviation sector.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) was founded in 1945 and is headquartered in Canada. The association aims to represent the aviation industry, develop commercial standards, and assist airlines by simplifying operations and increasing passenger comfort, while reducing costs and improving efficiency.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the sidelines of the Future Aviation Forum 2024, Al-Awadhi said IATA expects air traffic and the number of passengers in the Middle East region to increase this year by around 4 to 6 percent, compared to 2023.

Previous data issued by IATA revealed that airlines in the Middle East achieved the strongest performance in January 2024 by 29.5 percent - with an increase of 25.9 percent year-on-year in freight volumes, as a result of growth in the Middle East and Asian markets - and Middle East and Europe by 46 percent.

Al-Awadhi pointed to challenges facing the aviation sector in the Middle East, which include geopolitical developments, underlining the importance of cooperation among the civil aviation authorities in Gulf countries to guarantee the safety of passengers and aircraft and avoid the cancellation of flights.

The Future Aviation Forum is being held in Riyadh under the patronage of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and concludes on Thursday.

Organized by the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), the event is attended by more than 30 ministers, 77 presidents of civil aviation authorities and heads of airlines from around the world, as well as 5,000 aviation industry experts and stakeholders from more than 120 countries.