. .

 5. TRADE  6. GULF



Oct 08 - 14, 2001

Iran-Russian military-defence cooperation

Iran-Russian military-defence cooperation enjoys great importance, a Russian industrialist told an Iranian defence ministry delegation here Thursday.

Iranian military delegation, led by Brigadier-General Hossein Alaei, general manager of the army air industries, made a visit to the Russian ship building companies.

Referring to the Iranian Defence Minister Rear-Admiral Ali Shamkhani's current visit to Russia and the deals which were signed between the two sides, Alaei said that the current achievements are the outcome of the last visit of Russian and Iranian presidents in Moscow.

Regarding the importance of the two countries' role on the regional affairs, Alaei continued that Iran and Russia have common viewpoints about the regional issues particularly the Caspian Sea.

Alaei expressed hope that the two nations' joint endeavours would lead to the solution of Afghanistan's crises as well as establishment of peace in the region.

The Russian industrialist stressed that there is no limitation for extension of cooperation between the two countries. Russia agreed in March to provide Tehran with estimated Dlrs 7 billion worth of arms over the next years. Moscow says it would only supply defensive weapons.

Ivanov said last month Russia's weapons supplies to Iran are currently small and fulfil contracts signed during the Soviet times, or the early 1990s.

Shamkhani's trip is part of an ongoing rapprochement between the two states. Sergeyev paid a visit to Tehran in December last year which was followed by a visit to Moscow by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami in March this year.

Oil price slips to $19.65

The basket oil price used by Opec to set its output slipped again to 19.65 dollars, below the 22-dollar floor of the organization's target range for a seventh trading day, its secretariat said on Thursday.

The basket price, an average of seven world crudes, was down from $20.30 the previous day, said Opec officials, who base the daily basket price on the previous working day's world crude prices. Under a price mechanism system aimed at keeping prices within a 22-28 dollar range, Opec could cut production by 500,000 barrels a day if the basket price remains below 22 dollars a barrel for 10 trading days in a row.

The 10th day will be reached on Friday if the price remains below 22 dollars. Opec ministers agreed at a meeting in Vienna last week to leave output unchanged, but signalled they would cut output in the coming weeks if oil prices remained weak.

Jordan's port of Aqaba keen on success

The rapid transformation of the Jordanian port of Aqaba into a regionally competitive hub for investment, trade and tourism is already taking shape with the adoption and implementation of key economic, social and legislative directives.

According to Mr Akel Biltaji, the Chief Commissioner for the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, the young King Abdullah II of Jordan was quick to build upon the vision of his father the late King Hussein who had foreseen the immense potential of the Red Sea coastal city.

This through developing upon the initial blue prints for this strategically important undertaking and setting into motion its relevant requirements.

For that purpose, the Jordanian parliament passed the Aqaba Special Economic Zone law in August of 2000 under which the Aqaba Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) was established.

In his briefing to reporters participating in a press forum under the name of "Economic Reform and Development..(ASEZA), a Model" Biltaji affirmed that Aqaba was not being detached from the rest of the country or sold off as some may have suggested.

A number of Jordanian economists, parliamentarians and ordinary citizens had voiced concerns that turning Aqaba into a special economic zone may allow Israel to buy lands and control businesses under the cover of foreign investments and thus undermining the sovereignty of the country. Others feared for the moral fabric of the sea port.

Biltaji went on to say that several new investors have expressed their interest in establishing new projects. This in addition to plans for the development of the sea port, the airport and a rail road.

It is hoped that (ASEZA) would bring in up to $6 billion in investments creating some 70,000 jobs over the next 20 years, in addition to a 6% growth level, Biltaji added.

Riyadh 'sure' US won't attack Arab country

Saudi Arabia is "sure" Washington will not strike at an Arab country in retaliation for the anti-US terror attacks, Defence Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz said Wednesday after talks with US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"We are sure that the United States is not thinking of undertaking such an action," Prince Sultan said when asked if Riyadh had obtained guarantees that Washington would not attack an Arab country.

But the kingdom "could not demand guarantees from the United States ... about any action it will undertake," he said at a news conference with Rumsfeld.

The Saudi defence minister said the United States made no requests to use bases in the kingdom in support of air strikes against Afghanistan's Taliban rulers.

"There were no such requests presented by the United States in the first place, and this matter was not a point of discussion between the two sides," he said, speaking through an interpreter.

Washington favours Palestinian statehood

The United States is getting ready to announce that it will recognize the creation of a Palestinian state and jumpstart the Middle East peace initiative in order to create a broader coalition against its war on terrorism.

The initiative was to have been detailed last month in a speech by Secretary of State Colin Powell at the UN General Assembly and would have represented the first time a Republican administration has backed a Palestinian state, said an exclusive report in Tuesday's New York Times. But the plan was shelved after the Sept 11 disaster.

In the aftermath of the attacks, as Secretary Powell organized the international coalition, he signalled to friendly Arab countries that the administration would follow through on its desire for a more visible US role in the ME. But the Israeli-Palestinian initiative was postponed.

Now Arab leaders are urging Mr Bush to go ahead with the initiative because it would help them build support in their countries for the fight against terrorism, which is likely to involve military action against Muslim populations, the paper said.

At the State Department, some officials argue that Mr Powell should make the planned speech sooner rather than later, and certainly before military operations begin inside Afghanistan, the NYT said.

Israelis kill 7 Palestinians in Gaza

Israeli forces killed seven Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday in retaliation for a deadly raid on a Jewish settlement as a shaky Middle East ceasefire agreement threatened to collapse.

Violence also spread to the West Bank, where unknown men fired into a crowd of thousands of Jewish worshippers in Al Khalil, wounding two Israeli women, one seriously, the army said. The latest bloodshed left an already shaky truce in tatters, dealing another blow to Washington's efforts to end the fighting as it tries to draw Arab nations into the anti-terror alliance.

Iran's wool and mohair exports triple

Iranian exports of wool and mohair during the first five months of the current Iranian year (started March 21) reached 1,770 tons and valued at dlrs 5.76 million, the Persian daily Abrar-e Eqtesadi reported on Thursday, quoting information released by the Exports Promotion Center of Iran on Wednesday.

"The figure shows increases of 189.7 per cent and 76 per cent in terms of weight and value, respectively, compared to the figures of the same period of the previous year (started March 20, 2000)," it added.

In the year 2000 the country exported some 611 tons of wool and mohair valued at dlrs 3.27 million to various countries abroad, the report further said.

Turkey seeks large heating oil cargoes

Turkey is looking for large volumes of diesel and heating oil on the European spot market after a halt to cross-border smuggling from Iraq, traders said. Iraq halted the supplies, which contravene United Nations sanctions, after the September 11 attacks on the United States, in an effort to build up domestic stocks in the event of military action by the U.S.-led coalition, traders say.

Traders say smuggled imports from Iraq fell to 1.5 million tonnes last year, compared with three million tonnes in the previous year.

Jordan woos Tirupur knitwear investors

Jordan Investment Board (JIB) intends to encourage investors form Tirupur garment industry to set up knitwear factories in its qualified industrial zones (QIZ). A three-member team from JIB has met the members of the Tirupur hosiery industry to explain the investment opportunities in Jordan. JIB provides capital subsidies of 25-75 per cent to the textile and apparel ventures.

The QIZs also provide access to the European Union (EU) and the US markets through the Jordan accord. Presently, industrial parks in Jordan have 3,000 production facilities with investment of nearly $150 million.

Syrian, Egyptian, Saudi co-ordination

The Egyptian foreign minister Ahmad Maher has stressed the importance of the Syrian, Egyptian and Saudi coordination in dealing with regional and international developments and for serving unwavering Arab stances towards the need of fighting terrorism in the framework of the UN and to make a distinction between it and the legitimate resistance against occupation, as guaranteed by international legitimacy.

In statements he made in Cairo on Wednesday, Maher stressed that the elimination of tension in the Middle East requires Israel's complete withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories in Jerusalem, the Golan, and the Palestinian territories until June 4, 1967 border line in implementation of UN security council resolutions concerned.

Arab free trade zone

The economic unity council of the Arab League said in a report it issued on Monday (October 1st) that Doha's meeting (the fourth ministerial meeting of the world Trade Organization to be held on November 9-13) necessitates rapid implementation of the Greater Arab free zone area and making the set reduction in the provisional customs tariff especially in regard to agricultural items and expanding the scale of the said agreement so as to include services and intellectual property rights.

Emirates cargo

Flights on which every single shipment was booked via the Internet using SkyChain have been achieved by Emirates Skycargo at two of its stations Lahore in Pakistan and Bangkok in Thailand.

Arms export deal signed with Turkey

Pakistan has signed a deal with Turkey to export arms and ammunition, said Pakistan Ordnance Factories Chairman Lt-Gen Abdul Qayyum on Wednesday. He said the deal included supply of 20 million cartridges of 5.56mm bore of Nato standards and around 30,000 spares of 7.62mm G3 rifle.

The contract was signed during the world defence exhibition in Ankara by POF on behalf of Pakistan and MKEK on behalf of the Turkish Republic. A delegation led Defence Production Division Secretary Zahid Anis, participating in the exhibition, held talks with their counterparts of the host country.

Islamic banks deny financing terrorism

Islamic banks are not involved in financing terrorism, the Bahrain-based General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions insisted Thursday.

In a statement, the council's secretary general Ezzedin Khuja said none of its 34 members in Bangladesh, Bahrain, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan "are involved in any way in financing terrorist operations or illegal acts." "The institutions operate under precise norms and rules under the control of the central authorities of a sovereign state ... and in total transparency," he said.

He condemned all forms of terrorism and complained of a "tendentious campaign" in the West to link Islamic banks to the US terror attacks of September 11.

In Manama, the banking capital of the oil-rich Gulf, Information Minister Nabil Al-Hamr told AFP last week that no financial institutions or charities on the archipelago were involved in shady dealings.

Global glut slashes Uganda's coffee exports

The value of Uganda's coffee exports, vital to the economy, has plummeted by almost a third year-on-year this season because of falling prices and a failed stock retention scheme, officials said Wednesday.

Exports for the season ending September 30 were worth about 105 million dollars, against 165 million dollars for the preceding year, according to William Naggaga, the board secretary of the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA).

By weight, exports of coffee long the backbone of the east African country's economy actually rose from 2.9 million 60-kilo bags to 3.1 million bags.

"This is all self-inflicted damage because as producers we have failed to control supply. We have too much coffee on the market," Naggaga lamented.

Palestinian kids want to die throwing stones

Osama Al Kalban, 14, writhing in bed from a bullet wound to his upper right leg, dreams about Kung Fu legend Bruce Lee one minute and becoming a martyr the next.

"I will someday," he says, expressing his wish to die hurling stones at Israeli soldiers, the activity he and hundreds of others joined last Friday and Saturday in demonstrations marking the one year anniversary of the Palestinian Intifada, uprising against Israeli occupation of Arab land.

Arab leaders warn no end to terrorism without Mideast solution

Ever since last month's hijacked jetliner attacks on the United States, Arab leaders have warned there will be no end to terrorism without solving the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Central to their reasoning is the US administration of President George W. Bush, blatantly shunning its commitments to the peace process and blindly backing Israel.

Saudi Arabia has branded the US policy in the Middle East "unfair" and is pressing Washington to revise its position if it wants to wipe out terrorism.

"If they do not review their position toward the Palestinian cause, problems will continue even in those countries. Danger signals are clear and they must face reality," Interior Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdel Aziz warned.

Qatari emir donates three million dollars to US

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has donated three million dollars to the United States in solidarity with the victims of last month's terror attacks, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

Sheikh Hamad donated one million dollars to the World Trade Center relief fund, one million to the families of firemen killed when the center's towers collapsed and one million to the Cornell University hospital, "which has played a great role in the aftermath of the attacks," Al-Raya said.

Kuwait Airways cuts flights

Kuwait Airways Corporation (KAC) announced Wednesday it was reducing flights to some Arab destinations throughout October due to the international situation.

Kuwait stock market

The Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) lost 0.8 per cent in the week closing Wednesday, taking the index below the 1,600-point psychological barrier. The KSE index closed at 1,597.7 points, up 18.5 per cent on the year but still down 43.6 per cent on its all-time high of November 1997.

Saudi Prince

Billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdul Aziz, who has major investments in the United States, is seeking to contain the damage there to the kingdom's image following the September 11 attacks, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.

Interviewed in his Riyadh office, Prince Alwaleed said the attacks had not affected his own investment relationship with US companies, but that things are no longer the same.

Russian companies win Iraq contracts worth $40 bln

Russian companies have won contracts worth 40 billion dollars to help develop Iraq's oil and gas, petrochemical and industrial sectors, Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammad Mehdi Saleh said Sunday.

"We agreed a long-term programme of economic cooperation, under which Russian firms will implement projects in Iraq worth 40 billion dollars," Saleh said, quoted by the official INA news agency.

The programme covers more than 70 projects, 17 of them in the oil and gas sector, six in the petrochemical field and 15 in industry, Saleh said, without elaborating.

Exports from Russia to Iraq have reached 4.3 billion dollars since the UN oil-for-food programme was introduced at the end of 1996, Saleh said.

Bush signs Jordan trade deal

President George W. Bush signed a US-Jordan free trade agreement into law Friday, hours before welcoming Jordan's King Abdullah II to the White House for talks on combating terrorism, the White House said.

"The president signed privately the free trade agreement," Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters. "The president looks forward to discussing various areas of cooperation with the king." The commercial accord negotiated under Bush's predecessor, Bill Clinton cleared the US Senate just four days ago, after languishing in the US Congress for nearly one year.