Saudi Arabia Boosts Entrepreneurship in Industry, Logistics

Signing ceremony at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Signing ceremony at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi Arabia Boosts Entrepreneurship in Industry, Logistics

Signing ceremony at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Signing ceremony at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The Saudi National Industrial Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP) launched the "Thousand Miles" initiative for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the industrial and logistics fields.

The initiative seeks to facilitate material support, feasibility studies, and asset investment.

The launch came during the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC), organized by the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority (Monsha'at) in cooperation with the Global Entrepreneurship Network.

The conference witnessed the signing and launching of many programs and initiatives with a total value exceeding $1.6 billion.

NIDLP's new program is an opportunity to qualify entrepreneurs in industry and logistics in cooperation with the relevant authorities. It will also enable the qualification of skills in theory and practice, prepare preliminary and detailed feasibility studies, and provide qualitative incentives.

Technical Spending

Governor of the Saudi Digital Government Authority (DGA) Ahmed al-Suwaiyan said that 73 percent of the venture capital funding is going to technology and digital entrepreneurs.

Suwaiyan indicated during one of the panels at GEC that the Kingdom is the highest in the world in technical government spending out of national technical spending, reaching 21.7 percent last year with a value of $24 billion until 2025.

Several panels and sessions were held at GEC addressing young people and their interests, with the participation of several public and private officials aiming to develop entrepreneurs in all fields and provide them with the support needed to increase the most prominent issues of the emerging generation.

Saudi opportunities

CEO of Mohammed bin Salman Foundation (Misk) Badr al-Badr reviewed the trends that dominate entrepreneurship in 2022 and the sectors in high demand in the future.

Badr confirmed that 50 percent of Saudi youth are thinking about starting their own business, indicating that Misk programs are available to all ambitious people who need support.

He added that the most difficult challenges facing entrepreneurs are regulations, local and global expansion, and lack of talent.

"Misk's focus on supporting the entrepreneurship sector is driven by creating real opportunities for the youth to become entrepreneurs, lead successful businesses, and enable employment opportunities for others," he said.

Business setup

Meanwhile, a session entitled "Nurturing Youth Entrepreneurship" hosted Vice President of Nesma Noura al-Turki, Independent Consultant Khaled al-Zamel, and CEO of the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative Gary Schoeniger to discuss the need of current and future generations for a stimulating environment to develop new skills and ways of thinking.

The panel discussed how governments tap into this potential and empower young people to become future innovators, addressing the key sectors.

Turki stated that maintaining the entrepreneurial mindset within companies and within the youth who choose corporate careers, noting that it is vital to keep the spirit alive 40 years down the line in a company.

Zamil stated that entrepreneurship faces many difficulties and obstacles, noting that it is necessary to prepare for such possibilities always.

Entertainment

The speakers in the "Looking Ahead - Rise of The Film Industry" session discussed the challenges and opportunities of this sector. It was hosted by UTURN Chairman Kaswara al-Khatib and General Manager of MBC Studio Zainab Abu al-Samh.

Khatib stated they are enough stories to reflect the Saudi identity and be creative in highlighting its culture, adding that expectations are high and Saudi and Arab consumers have high energy and taste.

"Be authentic, focus on the storytelling itself. We have our own identity. We have a lot of stories to tell! Amazing stories!"

Samh indicated that the industry has all possibilities and opportunities, with creators capable of producing new materials. She explained that currently, there is a need to focus on young talents that will contribute to the continuation and development of the industry.

Speaking at the "Disrupting Entertainment: A future view" panel, Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph stressed that ideas must be revised to know that the product or service reaches the customer quickly and inexpensively, indicating that addressing the problem is better than creating ideas.

Programs and initiatives

On its third day, GEC witnessed the signing and launch of several programs and initiatives supporting the SME sector and entrepreneurship, with a total value exceeding $1.6 billion in support of the industry and providing financing solutions for SMEs.

The Small and Medium Enterprises Financing Guarantee Program (Kafalah) signed several agreements with the Ministries of Industry and Mineral Resources, Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing, and Sports, as well as several funds, including the Cultural Development Fund, the Tourism Development Fund, the National Industries Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP).

Kafalah also signed an agreement with King Saud University, Jouf University, and Saudi Incubators and Accelerators.

Monsha'at signed several cooperation agreements with the Council of Health Insurance and the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority to support and empower entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises.

The Banque Saudi Fransi signed a cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia).

It also launched the fourth batch of influential mentoring for an ambitious program in cooperation with Endeavor Saudi Arabia to support fast-growing enterprises by facilitating access to the best mentors in local and global networks and linking with regional and international offices.

It aims to support more than 26 fast-growing firms represented by 35 Saudi entrepreneurs, with more than 400,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Over 20 fast-growing Saudi companies cooperated with the global Elite Network to launch the sixth batch of Elite's ambition, aiming to qualify four to six companies to be offered in Nomu, the parallel stock market.

Meanwhile, Chaizer Power signed a cooperation agreement with the European MegaTel Group to manufacture and supply electric vehicle chargers in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.



Aramco Signs $6 Billion Procurement Agreements

The agreements aim to strengthen Aramco's domestic supply chain ecosystem to meet customers' demands and provide suppliers with long-term visibility of expected future demand. (SPA)
The agreements aim to strengthen Aramco's domestic supply chain ecosystem to meet customers' demands and provide suppliers with long-term visibility of expected future demand. (SPA)
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Aramco Signs $6 Billion Procurement Agreements

The agreements aim to strengthen Aramco's domestic supply chain ecosystem to meet customers' demands and provide suppliers with long-term visibility of expected future demand. (SPA)
The agreements aim to strengthen Aramco's domestic supply chain ecosystem to meet customers' demands and provide suppliers with long-term visibility of expected future demand. (SPA)

Aramco, one of the world's leading integrated energy and chemicals companies, signed on Tuesday 40 corporate procurement agreements worth $6 billion with suppliers in Saudi Arabia.

The agreements aim to strengthen Aramco's domestic supply chain ecosystem to meet customers' demands and provide suppliers with long-term visibility of expected future demand.

They will contribute to achieving the objectives of Aramco's In-Kingdom Total Value Add (iktva) program, the company's pioneer initiative that aims to drive the growth of a vibrant economy and create new opportunities for Saudi people.

Aramco Executive Vice President of Technical Services Wail Al-Jaafari said: “The 40 new agreements signed today are expected to contribute to the domestic value chain and further enhance the ecosystem that Aramco is assisting to build.”

“These agreements move us towards a more prosperous, diverse, and resilient supply chain, which will help ensure business continuity. They also represent a key milestone on our iktva journey and provide our partners with an opportunity to benefit from a robust and diversified business environment,” he stated.

Additionally, Aramco signed two MoUs with strategic partners to collaborate on localization and supply chain development.


Aramco Adds Significant Volumes to Proven Gas, Condensate Reserves at Jafurah Field

Aramco Adds Significant Volumes to Proven Gas, Condensate Reserves at Jafurah Field
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Aramco Adds Significant Volumes to Proven Gas, Condensate Reserves at Jafurah Field

Aramco Adds Significant Volumes to Proven Gas, Condensate Reserves at Jafurah Field

Saudi Aramco, one of the world’s leading integrated energy and chemicals companies, has added significant volumes to the proven gas and condensate reserves at the Jafurah unconventional field in Saudi Arabia.

The Company has booked 15 trillion standard cubic feet (scf) of raw gas and two billion stock tank barrels (STB) of condensate as proven reserves at Jafurah. It is now estimated that Jafurah contains a total of 229 trillion scf of raw gas, alongside an estimated 75 billion STB of condensate.

These new estimates were calculated using a novel approach to shale reserve booking, which was applied to unconventional resources for the first time in the industry and has the potential to be deployed at a larger scale.

Reserve booking practices were assessed through establishing continuity of resources and consistency of performance. These new estimates were technically validated by respected industry reserves certification consultancy DeGolyer and MacNaughton, which reviewed the statistical booking mechanism and provided a fully independent assessment.

Aramco President and CEO Amin H. Nasser said: “This achievement enhances the Kingdom’s hydrocarbon wealth through proven gas reserves, which are a vital resource for the energy and chemicals industries.”

“Aramco’s upstream business is deploying state-of-the-art technologies including advanced modeling and artificial intelligence to make tangible progress in developing Jafurah, which is one of the company’s growth catalysts and an important economic empowerment for the Kingdom. The field represents a key element in our ambitious strategy to increase Aramco’s gas production,” he stressed.

Work is currently underway to deliver production at Jafurah, with plans to ramp up to reach a sustainable sales gas rate of two billion scf by 2030, in addition to significant volumes of ethane, Natural Gas Liquids (NGL), and condensate.


Red Sea Unrest Revives Djibouti Ports

Doraleh Port is designated to receive containers and has witnessed a revival due to the disturbances in the Red Sea (Photo by Turki Al-Aguili)
Doraleh Port is designated to receive containers and has witnessed a revival due to the disturbances in the Red Sea (Photo by Turki Al-Aguili)
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Red Sea Unrest Revives Djibouti Ports

Doraleh Port is designated to receive containers and has witnessed a revival due to the disturbances in the Red Sea (Photo by Turki Al-Aguili)
Doraleh Port is designated to receive containers and has witnessed a revival due to the disturbances in the Red Sea (Photo by Turki Al-Aguili)

The unrest in the Bab al-Mandab region, the Red Sea, and the Gulf of Aden has contributed to the recovery of container handling operations in Djiboutian ports in recent months, according to Djiboutian officials.

Container handling at Doraleh Port, Djibouti's largest port, increased by up to 10% compared to the previous months, officials told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Houthi attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea caused a sharp rise in marine shipping insurance, with fees imposed to cover risks associated with conflicts.

Since November 2023, the Iranian-backed Houthis have been carrying out attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea that they suspect are linked to Israel or heading to its ports.

They say that this comes in support of the Gaza Strip, which has been witnessing a war since Oct. 7, 2023.

Washington and London have also launched joint military strikes on Houthi positions inside Yemen several times since last Jan. 12.

Advisor of the CEO of Operations at Doraleh Port Ismail Hasan told Asharq Al-Awsat that the port served more than 100,000 containers with an average of 60-70 ships of various sizes last January, and it can receive the largest ships in the world.

All international shipping and navigation companies are in Doraliya Port, serving over 60 ports worldwide.

Last January, the port witnessed an increase in handling by a rate of 5-10% compared to previous months.

During Asharq Al-Awsat's visit to Doraleh Port, the Chinese ship Zhong An Xin Huayuan was anchoring for the first time, according to Hasan.

He explained that the tensions in the Red Sea led new shipping companies to enter as new clients of the Djiboutian ports.

Djibouti has about five specialized ports, including Doraleh Port, and others for various goods, commodities, and iron, some of which are dedicated to energy.

Several Chinese shipping lines have been redeploying their vessels to serve the Red Sea and the Suez Canal in what analysts have said is an effort to exploit China's perceived immunity from the Houthi attacks that have driven most other operators out of the area, according to the Financial Times.

The newspaper said two vessels were listed on the website of Qingdao-based Transfar Shipping, which describes itself as "an emerging player in the transpacific market" as part of its fleet list.

However, Transfar said on Friday that it had stopped operating the ships in February 2023 and needed to know which company was using them now.

The report stated that the move of Chinese lines to the Red Sea comes after most big container shipping lines — including China's Cosco, operator of the industry's fourth-biggest fleet —abandoned the southern Red Sea because of the security risks.

According to Hasan, Djibouti seeks to become a global hub that serves most of the markets, extending from China in the east through the Middle East and the Mediterranean all the way to Northern Europe.

According to official statistics, Djibouti ports witness daily transit of about 90 ships, 59% of which are coming from Asia, while vessels from Europe represent 21%, while other continents, including Africa, represent 16%.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), maritime transport through the Red Sea decreased by approximately 30% in one year.

The International Chamber of Shipping says the Red Sea is a vital route that usually carries about 12% of global trade.

Doraleh Port, established in 2009, is about three kilometers from the gate to the edge of the sea, with a depth of 20 meters and a width of 1,050 meters, and it is considered one of the largest container ports in Africa.

Hasan told Asharq Al-Awsat that the port was equipped with the most advanced handling machines in the world, and it began operating only about three months ago.

The port ranked first in Africa for three consecutive years, and there are 30 mechanisms dedicated to distributing containers registered in a system with unique codes.

Some containers are destined for domestic and neighboring countries, and others are being re-exported to other international ports.

He explained that all the working crews are Djiboutian, with 800 full-timers and about 1,000 hired when needed.

Hasan addressed the establishment of a seaport for Ethiopia in Somaliland after announcing an initial agreement between the two sides, indicating that this would not affect the Djiboutian ports.

The advisor asserted that establishing an Ethiopian port in Somaliland would not affect the Djiboutian ports.

- Freight train to Ethiopia

Doraleh Port is directly connected to the main train terminal to transport goods from the port to Ethiopia.

Djibouti is the main gateway for Ethiopian imports and exports to and from the world.

According to the advisor, the train's journey from the port to Metu in Ethiopia takes 10 to 12 hours before continuing its way to Addis Ababa.

Hasan pointed out that three train lines can be operated simultaneously, while two trains run daily to Ethiopia, with an average of 106 containers for each train.

The Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway line is the first electric-powered railway line designed to Chinese specifications.

Djibouti and Ethiopia benefit from it by establishing industrial and logistical zones and constructing new cities and villages along this line, which passes through the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia, which exports and imports nearly 90% of goods through Djibouti ports, has plans to expand the train network to extend to Sudan, Kenya, and South Sudan.


Saudi National Transformation Program Achieves 34 Strategic Goals of Vision 2030

The National Transformation Program report shows remarkable progress towards Vision 2030 strategic goals (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The National Transformation Program report shows remarkable progress towards Vision 2030 strategic goals (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi National Transformation Program Achieves 34 Strategic Goals of Vision 2030

The National Transformation Program report shows remarkable progress towards Vision 2030 strategic goals (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The National Transformation Program report shows remarkable progress towards Vision 2030 strategic goals (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The National Transformation Program (NTP), one of the Saudi Vision 2030 programs, accomplished 34 strategic goals out of 96 goals set to be achieved by 2030.
Since the launch of Vision 2030, the tremendous positive transformations witnessed in the Kingdom’s cities and regions have contributed to shaping a new, higher-quality life and providing better livelihoods, driven by the National Transformation Program.
The Program includes government digital services that save effort and time, and enhance the role of the private sector.
According to a recent report issued by the Program, a copy of which Asharq Al-Awsat viewed, the digital experience maturity index for government services during 2023 reached 80.68%, and 97% of government services in the same period were digitized.
The volume of savings from digital government initiatives last year amounted to $1.6 billion.
- Advancing globally
The Kingdom achieved its highest historical result in the E-Government Development Index 2022, issued by the United Nations, in which it advanced 12 places to 31st rank globally.
Saudi Arabia is also one of the best countries in the world in providing information on government services, making open government data available, and sharing it with citizens and business sectors.
According to the report, the average Internet speeds for download in the Kingdom for fixed and mobile internet reached 153.1 Mbps and 214.6 Mbps, respectively, while the fifth-generation mobile reached about 327.49 Mbps.
- Judicial transformation
The Program focused on activating digital transformation in judicial services and raised the percentage of services provided electronically from 30% in 2015 to 86.9% by the end of the previous year.
The Ministry’s Najiz platform contributed to reducing the case duration by 79% and supported beneficiaries of digital judicial services in more than 100 countries.
The Ministry digitized 180 million real estate documents, including records, controls, and transactions, and sorted and merged more than 100,000 deeds within minutes for each request.
It also completed 17,000 transactions worth $5.4 billion in the first week of launching the real estate stock exchange platform.
The report stated that the “Tawakkalna Services” application, with its new identity, witnessed an expansion in its integrated and harmonious services that enrich the experience of citizens, residents, and visitors through 240 services provided and 31 million users, supported by seven languages, and operating in more than 75 countries.
- Environment protection
Regarding environmental issues, the Program’s initiatives contributed to the rehabilitation of more than 192,000 hectares of natural vegetation and increased the percentage of natural reserves compared to Saudi Arabia’s total area from 4.3% in 2016 to more than 18.8% in 2023
The accuracy rate of forecasting and early warning of meteorological hazards three days prior increased from 60% to 81.14%.
The Kingdom launched the most extended irrigation network in the world, utilizing treated water to irrigate 7.5 million trees in its capital.
The network supports the Green Riyadh initiative, which aims to increase the use of treated water for irrigation by 100%.
- Promoting food security
To combat any food crisis, NTP’s initiatives strengthened the Kingdom’s grain storage under the General Food Security Authority, increasing from 2.5 million tons in 2016 to 3.5 million tons in 2023.
The report shows the self-sufficiency rate for the most important agricultural products: dates at 124%, table eggs at 117%, dairy products at 118 %, and poultry and red meat at 68% and 60%, respectively.
- Investment licenses
The Kingdom ranked 1st in the MENA region for Venture Capital Investment in 2023, capturing 52% of the total capital deployed with a value of $1.4 billion.
Riyadh became a valuable investment destination for global investors, whereby more than 180 companies obtained permits in 2023 to open a regional office.
In 2023, more than 8,500 foreign investment licenses were issued, an increase of more than 96% compared to the previous year.
The Kingdom continues comprehensive economic reforms to empower the private sector and attract local and foreign investments, continuing its progress in the World Competitiveness Booklet by achieving 17th place globally among 64 countries and 3rd among the G20.
The “Investment Saudi” platform, affiliated with the Ministry of Investment, offered about 1,283 opportunities ranging from tourism and entertainment, communications and information technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, advanced industries, metals and mining, energy, financial and environmental services, and others.
- Labor market
The Saudi Business Center has provided 2.5 million services to the private sector since March 2020, in addition to 160 initiatives, including legislative, procedural, and technical reforms and 66 partnership agreements to facilitate starting business.
The report also touched on the decline in unemployment rate during the third quarter of last year to 8.6%, and the improvement of working conditions for expatriates increased to 73%.

 

 


UN Tourism and WTTC Laud Saudi Arabia for Receiving over 100 Million Tourists in 2023

The Kingdom has achieved this milestone seven years ahead of the initial goal, the Saudi Ministry of Tourism said
The Kingdom has achieved this milestone seven years ahead of the initial goal, the Saudi Ministry of Tourism said
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UN Tourism and WTTC Laud Saudi Arabia for Receiving over 100 Million Tourists in 2023

The Kingdom has achieved this milestone seven years ahead of the initial goal, the Saudi Ministry of Tourism said
The Kingdom has achieved this milestone seven years ahead of the initial goal, the Saudi Ministry of Tourism said

Saudi Arabia has received international recognition and praise from UN Tourism and the World Travel & Tourism Council for the "remarkable achievement" of receiving over 100 million tourists in 2023, according to a statement issued today by the Saudi Ministry of Tourism.
This accomplishment, the statement said, significantly surpassed the target set for 2030, positioning Saudi Arabia as "an emerging global tourism powerhouse.”
According to the ministry, the Kingdom has achieved this milestone seven years ahead of the initial goal, according to the latest data. Motivated by this success, the Kingdom has now set a new ambitious target of welcoming 150 million tourists by 2030.
Tourism has proved to be a significant contributor to the nation’s economy, with domestic and international tourists spending over SAR250 billion in 2023. This expenditure represents over 4% of GDP and 7% of the non-oil GDP, and reflects the crucial role played by tourism in diversifying Saudi Arabia's economy.
Tourism Minister Ahmed Al Khateeb said that this announcement demonstrates the scale of the Kingdom's transformation since the National Tourism Strategy was launched five years ago.
"Tourism is a key pillar in the nation’s economic transformation under Vision 2030, creating jobs and revenue for the Kingdom," he said. "We thank both UN Tourism and WTTC as valued partners in our journey for their shared commitment to a sustainable and prosperous tourism sector.”
Al Khateeb said the tourism sector operates in line with the national tourism strategy, developing diverse tourist destinations. The aim, he said, is to enrich the tourists’ experience, diversify options for both local and international visitors, and improve hospitality facilities along with other services provided.
"We are committed to aligning with top-tier international experiences and practices. This approach contributes to shaping a prosperous future for our tourism industry, improving the quality of life, and bolstering the Kingdom's position on the global tourism map," said the minister.
According to the statement, the tourism sector in the Kingdom has made significant leaps, with the total number of tourists, both domestic and international, reaching 106.2 million in 2023. This represents a remarkable 56% increase over 2019 and a substantial 12% surge over 2022.
International tourists numbered 27.4 million, a substantial 56% increase over 2019 and an impressive 65% rise compared to 2022.


Oil Prices Rise amid Concerns about Red Sea Attacks on Shipping

Oil rig pumpjacks, also known as thirsty birds, extract crude from the Wilmington Field oil deposits area near Long Beach, California July 30, 2013. REUTERS/David McNew//File Photo
Oil rig pumpjacks, also known as thirsty birds, extract crude from the Wilmington Field oil deposits area near Long Beach, California July 30, 2013. REUTERS/David McNew//File Photo
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Oil Prices Rise amid Concerns about Red Sea Attacks on Shipping

Oil rig pumpjacks, also known as thirsty birds, extract crude from the Wilmington Field oil deposits area near Long Beach, California July 30, 2013. REUTERS/David McNew//File Photo
Oil rig pumpjacks, also known as thirsty birds, extract crude from the Wilmington Field oil deposits area near Long Beach, California July 30, 2013. REUTERS/David McNew//File Photo

Oil prices on Tuesday built on gains made a day earlier amid attacks on shipping in the Red Sea that have exacerbated supply worries.
Brent crude futures rose 36 cents, or 0.44%, to $82.89 a barrel by 0745 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures (WTI) were up 31 cents, or 0.40%, to $77.89 a barrel, Reuters said.
"Concerns around shipping disruptions in the Red Sea have supported a rebound in the price of crude oil overnight, offsetting a more hawkish Fed currently weighing on the demand side of the equation," said Tony Sycamore, an analyst at IG in Sydney.
The attacks by Iran-aligned Houthis in support of Palestinians have increased freight rates and shipping times. On Monday, US Central Command said that the Houthis had unsuccessfully fired a missile at the US flagged oil tanker Torm Thor in the Gulf of Aden on Feb. 24.
On Tuesday, US President Biden said Israel has agreed to halt military activities in Gaza for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as Hamas studied a draft proposal for a truce which includes a pause in fighting and a prisoner-hostage exchange.
Oil prices were also supported on Tuesday by indications of improved demand in China.
"Concerns over Chinese demand are abating, as refineries continue brisk buying in the physical market after a boom in Lunar New Year travel. This is despite them having planned more maintenance halts than usual," analysts from ANZ Bank said in a note.
Also on Tuesday, Russian authorities announced a six-month ban on gasoline exports from March 1 to compensate for rising demand from consumers and farmers and to allow for planned maintenance of refineries.
Both oil benchmarks settled more than 1% higher on Monday which followed declines of 2%-3% over the previous week as markets factored in a greater likelihood that rate cuts might take longer to come.
Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Jeffrey Schmid on Monday used a debut speech on policy to signal that he, like most of his central banking colleagues, is in no rush to cut interest rates. High borrowing costs typically reduce economic growth and oil demand.
A market focus for the day will be the American Petroleum Institute industry group's weekly data on US crude inventories which is due to be released at 4:30 p.m. EST (2130 GMT).
Analysts polled by Reuters on Monday estimated on average that crude inventories rose by about 1.8 million barrels in the week to Feb. 23.


Gold Prices Gain on Softer Dollar; Focus on US Inflation Data

Gold jewelry is seen displayed for sale at a Chow Tai Fook jewelry store in Shanghai, China November 27, 2023. REUTERS/Nicoco Chan
Gold jewelry is seen displayed for sale at a Chow Tai Fook jewelry store in Shanghai, China November 27, 2023. REUTERS/Nicoco Chan
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Gold Prices Gain on Softer Dollar; Focus on US Inflation Data

Gold jewelry is seen displayed for sale at a Chow Tai Fook jewelry store in Shanghai, China November 27, 2023. REUTERS/Nicoco Chan
Gold jewelry is seen displayed for sale at a Chow Tai Fook jewelry store in Shanghai, China November 27, 2023. REUTERS/Nicoco Chan

Gold prices rose on Tuesday as the dollar softened, while investors awaited a key US inflation report and speeches from Federal Reserve officials for cues into the central bank's potential rate-cut timings.
Spot gold was up 0.4% at $2,038.19 per ounce, as of 0840 GMT. US gold futures rose 0.5% to $2,047.90 per ounce.
The dollar traded weaker, making greenback-priced bullion relatively less expensive for other currency holders.
"Ahead of inflation number we expect some kind of consolidation. We expect gold to trade in a very narrow range ... bias will be 'sell' on jump," said Ajay Kedia, director at Kedia Commodities in Mumbai.
The support for gold follows Japan and the UK entering into a technical recession, a trend reflected in the gold-silver ratio, which is currently at 90 <XAU-XAG>, Kedia said. "But, there is no change in war premium, everything has been already priced in."
Recent remarks from Fed policymakers suggested that the US central bank was in no hurry to cut interest rates, largely cementing bets against any rate cuts before June.
Markets are currently pricing in about 81 basis points of rate cuts for 2024, with a 64% chance of the first quarter-point cut occurring in June, according to LSEG's interest rate probability app, IRPR.
Lower interest rates boost the appeal of holding non-yielding bullion.
At least 10 Fed officials are due to speak this week, while investors are focused on the core personal consumption expenditures price index, the Fed's preferred inflation gauge, due on Thursday.
Investors are also monitoring the risk of US government agency shutdowns if Congress fails to reach an agreement on a borrowing extension by Friday.
Spot platinum climbed 0.8% to $887.04 per ounce, palladium jumped 0.9% to $963.50, and silver rose 0.7% to $22.67 per ounce.


WTO Hopes to Restore Confidence in Multilateral Trading System

Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks during the opening ceremony of the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of WTO in Abu Dhabi. (Reuters)
Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks during the opening ceremony of the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of WTO in Abu Dhabi. (Reuters)
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WTO Hopes to Restore Confidence in Multilateral Trading System

Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks during the opening ceremony of the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of WTO in Abu Dhabi. (Reuters)
Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks during the opening ceremony of the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of WTO in Abu Dhabi. (Reuters)

Trade ministers from World Trade Organization (WTO) member nations convened in Abu Dhabi on Monday for the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) with a shared aspiration: to forge a path toward revitalizing confidence in the global commercial framework.

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala lauded the remarkable adaptability of the multilateral trading system, asserting that it has demonstrated resilience in the face of formidable global obstacles.

“I'm delighted to say that we are kicking off this meeting with some excellent news. Here at MC13, the WTO is welcoming its first new members in almost eight years: Timor-Leste and Comoros,” adding, “Twenty-two more countries are seeking to follow in their footsteps.”

“The multilateral trading system, which I term a global public good since it was created 75 years ago, continues to be misconstrued some quarters and undermined,” she said.

The four-day MC13 kicked off in Abu Dhabi on Monday with ministers of economy, trade, and development from various countries, as well as representatives from global economic and trade organizations attending the event.

“Looking around, uncertainty and instability are everywhere. Geopolitical tensions have worsened.”

“Higher prices for food, energy, fertilizer, and other essentials continue to weigh on people's purchasing power, fueling political frustration.”

“People everywhere are feeling anxious about the future – and this will be felt at the ballot box this year.”

She added, “If we thought the world looked tough in mid-2022, when we were slowly emerging from the pandemic, and the war in Ukraine had shaken food and energy security, we are in an even tougher place today.”

Athaliah Lesiba Molokomme, chairperson of the WTO's general council, said the work facing trade ministers at MC13 "is more important than ever" in light of global challenges.

"Amid growing economic uncertainties and geopolitical tensions, we must collectively ensure that the WTO is fit to respond to the challenges of today," she said.

Saudi Minister of Commerce Dr. Majid al-Qasabi reiterated his nation's commitment to active engagement within the WTO, emphasizing the imperative of generating favorable outcomes to bolster confidence in the multilateral trading arena.

Against a backdrop of formidable challenges, al-Qasabi underscored the pivotal role of the WTO in navigating complexities and amplifying the significance of the global trade agenda.

He outlined key priorities including discussions on food security, bolstering the capabilities of developing nations, fostering strategic partnerships, and advancing a trading framework that is both efficient and sustainable.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi emphasized that his country will continue to support the multilateral trading system overseen by the WTO, believing it to be a driver for sustainable growth of the global economy and beneficial to improving the lives of people around the world.


GCC Secretary General, EU Trade Chief Discuss Ways to Enhance Trade, Economic Relations

Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi. (GCC)
Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi. (GCC)
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GCC Secretary General, EU Trade Chief Discuss Ways to Enhance Trade, Economic Relations

Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi. (GCC)
Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi. (GCC)

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary General Jassim Mohammed Al-Budaiwi and European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis met in the Emirati capital, Abu Dhabi, on the sidelines of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO's) 13th Ministerial Conference, SPA said on Monday.
The two sides reviewed economic and trade relations and discussed ways to enhance them, building on their historical partnership.
They also expressed aspiration to build stronger relations and expand the scope of economic and trade cooperation between the GCC countries and the European Union to achieve common objectives and enhance the interests of both parties.


Over SAR6 Bln to Be Invested in Environmental Compliance Projects in Saudi Arabia until 2030

Saudi Vice Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Eng. Mansour Al Mushaiti speaks at the event in Riyadh. (SPA)
Saudi Vice Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Eng. Mansour Al Mushaiti speaks at the event in Riyadh. (SPA)
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Over SAR6 Bln to Be Invested in Environmental Compliance Projects in Saudi Arabia until 2030

Saudi Vice Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Eng. Mansour Al Mushaiti speaks at the event in Riyadh. (SPA)
Saudi Vice Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Eng. Mansour Al Mushaiti speaks at the event in Riyadh. (SPA)

Saudi Vice Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Eng. Mansour Al Mushaiti said on Monday over SAR6 billion will have been invested in environmental compliance projects in Saudi Arabia by the end of 2030.

He made his remarks at the inaugural two-day Environmental Compliance Forum in Riyadh that ended on Monday.

Al Mushaiti stressed that the environment is closely related to the economy, community health and quality of life, and as such, it is one of the priority areas of the wise leadership, whose support contributed to an “unprecedented development of the environment, water and agriculture sectors” in line with the Kingdom's Vision 2030.

He said the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture started to draw up the National Environment Strategy in 2016, and “through practical steps and practices, provided sustainable solutions, with the participation of the private sector, which played a crucial part in achieving many environment-friendly development goals”.

He added that the current forum sought to stress the importance of cooperation to create a sustainable environment that contributes to preserving natural resources, boosting the quality of life and improving the services provided to individuals.

According to a 2014 study by the World Bank, the cost of environmental degradation exceeded SAR86 billion, he noted.

Protecting the environment, he stressed, is crucial to ensuring environment, food and water security, and to progressing and achieving economic prosperity.

Al Mushaiti also highlighted Saudi Arabia’s “remarkable strides” in protecting the environment, preserving natural resources and achieving progress in global indicators.