Oct 02 -
OPEC rebuffs price pressure at historic summit
The OPEC oil cartel opened a landmark summit Wednesday,
pledging to work for market stability and to discuss consumer fears but snubbing
calls for concrete action to cut soaring prices.
The summit was meanwhile also urged to consider demanding the
end of UN sanctions against OPEC member Iraq, imposed after the 1991 Gulf War.
In a rabble-rousing speech opening the two-day gathering,
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez offered dialogue with consumer states — but
not without conditions.
"We are willing to talk with anybody, anywhere at any
time, but as equals," Chavez said, noting that he had recently received a
call from a president of a "powerful" industrialized country.
"It was good that we talked. But why don't we discuss
the foreign debt that crushes poor countries, why don't we discuss terms of
trade that are so unequal, and the savage imposition of economic systems?"
The gathering of sovereigns and presidents of the
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was only the second in the
cartel's 40-year history.
The assembled leaders include Iranian President Mohammad
Khatami, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, Indonesian Abdurrahman Wahid, Nigerian
President Olusegun Obasanjo and Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan.
OPEC has come under heavy pressure to help bring down crude
prices which have soared to 10-year highs in recent weeks, sparking consumer
protests notably in Europe and warnings of a global economic slowdown.
But OPEC leaders gathered for the summit, the first such
gathering in 25 years, rebuffed any immediate prospect of a new production hike,
following three increases already in the last 12 months.
Saudi bans imports of Firestone tyres
In a sign of how investors have begun warming back up to the
embattled Japanese parent of US tyre maker Firestone, shares in Bridgestone Corp
managed a small rise on Thursday despite Saudi Arabia's ban on Firestone tyres.
Saudi Arabia became the first country to ban Firestones since a global
controversy erupted last month over dozens of traffic deaths linked to 15-inch
Firestone tyres, mostly fitted on Ford Motor Co vehicles in the United States
Firestone called Saudi Arabia's action "uncalled for and
extreme" and contacted Washington to protest against the ban, which comes
about two months after its US recall of 6.5 million tyres linked to at least 101
US road deaths.
But despite the ban, shares in Bridgestone climbed for most
of Thursday as most other shares in the Tokyo stock market fell.
Bridgestone ended at 1,270 yen ($11.84), up 0.7 per cent on
the day. At one point it climbed by as much as 3.4 per cent.
Analysts said the impact of Saudi Arabia's ban on
Bridgestone's earnings was virtually insignificant. In the last business year,
the Middle Eastern country contributed less than one per cent to Bridgestone's
"The significance of this ban on the group as a whole is
not that large," said Stephen Usher, senior analyst at Jardine Fleming
Securities in Tokyo.
But the rise in the stock reflects a change in attitude
towards Bridgestone in the past three weeks.
A month ago, each piece of bad news fell like a stone on
Bridgestone's shares, halving the Japanese company's market value in just one
month and pushing the stock price to an eight-year low by September 8.
Sharon visit sparks clashes
A visit by Israeli party leader Ariel Sharon to a holy site
in Jerusalem on Thursday sparked violence between Palestinian protesters and
Israeli police, casting a fresh shadow over the peace process.
In another potential setback, an Israeli soldier died of
wounds received on Wednesday in a bomb attack on a convoy of Jewish settlers'
cars being escorted by the army in the Palestinian-ruled Gaza Strip.
Police, who fired at the stone-throwing protesters in
Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah, said 25 police had been hurt in
BG signs major Iran gas export joint-venture
BG International said it has signed a joint-venture agreement
to develop Iran's gas exports from its huge offshore South Pars field to the
The project, worth about $1 billion, is the largest energy
joint venture signed with a foreign company since the 1979 Islamic revolution,
according to the English language Iran Daily newspaper.
The deal was signed with Iran's Oil Industry and Engineering
Company (OIEC), an offshoot of the National Iranian Oil Company owned mainly by
NIOC's present or retired employees.
The project is looking at two potential export terminal sites
in southern Iran at Asaluyeh and Kish Island, BG said in a statement. The
initial two-train project could produce and export six to seven million tonnes
of LNG a year from 2006, BG said.
Turkey welcomes embargo-defying flights to Iraq
Turkey welcomed Thursday the organization of humanitarian
flights to its southeastern neighbour Iraq in defiance of the decade-old UN
embargo against Baghdad.
"We see the civil flights to Iraq primarily as an effort
to meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. We attach great importance
to this issue and view it positively," foreign ministry spokesman Huseyin
Dirioz said in a written statement.
Five planes, three Russian, one French and one Jordanian,
have landed in Baghdad since mid-August despite strong criticism from the United
A second French plane is planned to come to Baghdad from
Paris on Friday, while Iceland, India, Syria and Yemen have all voiced
intentions to send planes to Iraq.
Dirioz also recalled that Turkey had given permission to the
French and Russian planes, which landed in Baghdad last week, to use its
airspace without seeking approval from the UN sanctions committee.
Crude price heads lower
The price of crude oil was gently lower in London trading
Thursday, despite a warning from OPEC hardliners to the European Union not to
flood the market with oil from strategic reserves.
Brent crude futures for November delivery fell 41 cents to
$30.13, while members of the Organization of Oil Producing Countries continued
their two day meeting in Caracas, Venezuela.
Arafat launched drilling
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat officially launched drilling
operations Wednesday to tap a newly-discovered gas field off Palestinian
"It is a major event for the Palestinian economy. I
dedicate it to all Palestinians," Arafat said as he gave the signal to
Syria tells EU wants just peace
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad told a European Union envoy
on Wednesday that his country wanted a just and comprehensive peace with Israel.
Presidential spokesman Koubran Kourieh said Bashar also told
Miguel Angel Moratinos, the EU's Middle East envoy, that Syria welcomed any
European effort to revive Syrian-Israeli peace talks which broke off in January.
Cohen: Saddam could disrupt oil markets
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could cause short-term
disruptions in international energy markets by halting oil production for a
limited time, US Defense Secretary William Cohen warned Tuesday in a speech to
Cohen also acknowledged that, despite a costly US effort to
contain Baghdad militarily, the decade-old UN sanctions have been undercut by an
international "erosion of will power."
Crack-down on corporate piracy
Companies that ignore Oman's strict copyright laws could find
themselves raided and prosecuted by authorities. The sale of pirated software in
Muscat is declining, but the act of sharing software among hundreds of users is
still rife in the capital's corporate sector.
The Ministry of National Heritage and Culture (MNHC) is
spearheading the crack-down and has recently conducted a second set of raids on
corporations suspected of using pirated software in Muscat.
UAE corporate e-banking service
ABN Amro Bank has become the first major bank in the UAE to
offer corporate customers an electronic banking tool, which allows them to check
their financial status on a regular basis.
The UAE-developed BankOnline service allows customers to view
data directly on screen, and download it instantly for offline viewing. In
addition to providing instant access to account information.
Saudi E-Commerce Forum
Osama Faqeeh, Minister Of Commerce, Saudi Arabia will give
the opening address at the 2nd Saudi E-Commerce Forum in Riyadh.
The Forum, which is sponsored by Arabian Business.com, runs
from 4-6 November at the Al Faisaliah Conference Centre, Riyadh, is expecting to
attract a capacity audience of over 750 sponsors, guests, delegates and
The Forum aims at creating a platform for constructive debate
and interaction by bringing together government representatives, domestic and
multinational companies from all major industrial sectors and the world's
leading specialists in the field of e-commerce technology and expertise.
Iraqi dinar surges
The Iraqi dinar, battered by 10 years of UN trade sanctions,
rose against the US dollar on Wednesday after a government decision to stop
using the dollar in its foreign trade dealing, Iraqi officials and money
changers said. The dinar surged to 1,930 dinars to the dollar on Wednesday
morning from 1,950 on Tuesday when the government said it would replace the
dollar with the euro or another currency because of "hostile American
Algeria awards contract
Algerian state-run Air Navigation National Company (ENNA) on
Tuesday signed a 30 million euros ($26.4 million) agreement with French defence
electronics group Thomson-CSF, the ENNA chairman said.
"This accord is part of our plans to upgrade our air
control system with sophisticated equipment to meet rising air traffic in
Algerian main airports," Mouloud Ait Si-Ali said after signing the accord
with Thomson representative Jean Christophe Esculier.
Kuwait hopes for no delay in $16 b compensation
Kuwait said Tuesday it hoped there would be no further delay
in a 16-billion-dollar oil compensation claim for the 1990-1991 Iraqi occupation
despite reservations within the UN Security Council.
"We hope the issue will pass through either by voting or
consensus," Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah told Al-Rai Al-Aam
newspaper. "I believe there will be no delay." Kuwait's claim for
compensation for losses and damage to its oil sector has been put off twice
already, and the UN Compensation Commission (UNCC) has cut the emirate's
original 21-billion-dollar demand to 15.9 billion dollars.
Doha to host OIC summit
Qatar is to host a summit of the Organization of the Islamic
Conference (OIC) from Nov 12 to 14, the OIC said on Wednesday.
Foreign ministers of the 56-member organization are to meet
in Doha on Nov 10 and 11 to set the agenda. Qatar is taking over the OIC
presidency from Iran.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is expected to take part in
Emirates, the award-winning international airline of the UAE,
has launched a revamped website which gives visitors some innovative new
features as well as details of the airline's latest product launches and
promotional offers, according to a press release.
The site went live on Wed September 20th and can be accessed
Arab trade union group mulls flight to Iraq
The International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions (ICATU)
said Sunday it hoped to organize a flight into Iraq, following Russian and
French missions that flown into Baghdad despite the sanctions in force since
The group said it was contacting airlines to lease a plane
and that the flight would bring representatives of Arab unions, lawyers and
youth groups into Iraq.
"We will bring Iraq's workers and people technical, food
and medical help to try to diminish their suffering, and we will launch press
campaigns and support meetings to denounce American and British practices and
aggression against Iraq, which violate human rights," the ICATU said in a
UAE sees oil at above $25 a barrel
The United Arab Emirates oil minister, Obaid bin Said Al-Nasseri,
said Sunday he expected oil prices to remain at above 25 dollars a barrel in the
"The years 2000 and 2001 will see a good level of oil
prices which could remain above 25 dollars a barrel," Nasseri said, cited
by the official WAM news agency.
Jordan's economy is receiving welcome help from the hundreds
of thousands of Jordanians working abroad, a report from the country's central
bank said Sunday.
The amount of money sent home by Jordanians working overseas
rose by more than 8.7 per cent in the first quarter of the year over the same
period last year, the bank report said.
The transfers rose from almost 370 million dollars in the
first quarter of 1999 to 400 million in the same period this year, it said.
Expatriates' input, like tourism receipts, make up a major
source of foreign currency for the country, accounting for 1.6 billion dollars
in 1999, up 7.9 per cent over the previous year, the bank report said.