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 1. INTERNATIONAL   2. INDUSTRY
 3. FINANCE  4. POLICY
 5. TRADE  6. GULF

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GULF

April 01 - 07, 2002

IRAQ, KUWAIT IN LANDMARK RECONCILIATION AGREEMENT

The first breakthrough at the 14th Arab League Summit came, when heads of the Saudi and Iraq delegations, Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abulaziz and Iraq's Izzat Ibrahim, vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council hugged and kissed each other, the first such high-level public contact between the two countries since the 1990 Gulf war.

Meanwhile, Iraq and Kuwait reached a landmark agreement that could pave the way for a rapprochement for the first time since the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

"The Arab leaders welcome the Iraqi declaration to respect the independence, sovereignty and security of the state of Kuwait and guarantee its safety and unity to avoid anything that might cause a repetition of what happened in 1990. They also call for developing the relations between the two brotherly countries," said the final communique of the summit, known as the Beirut Declaration.

Kuwait is "100 per cent satisfied" with the agreement reached with Iraq, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah said on his return to Kuwait from the summit.

"Of course I'm 100 per cent satisfied," Sheikh Sabah said. "Who wrote these clauses? I wrote them," he said when asked if he was satisfied with all the provisions of the Beirut summit's non-aggression agreement in which Iraq pledged to respect Kuwait's independence and sovereignty.

Sheikh Sabah hinted that Kuwait no longer demanded an apology from Iraq for invading the country in 1990.

"What is more (important) than that is that it doesn't happen again," Sheikh Sabah said when asked if reconciliation would be followed by an official apology from Iraq for invading the country.

Arab leaders also called for stopping all kinds of media campaigns by the two countries against each other, and asked Iraq to put an end to the issue of Kuwaiti prisoners of war, and return all Kuwaiti property taken by the Iraqis during the Gulf War. They also urged Kuwait to cooperate with Iraq in this regard.

GCC INDUSTRIAL INVESTMENTS TRIPLE

Industrial investments in the GCC nearly tripled over the past decade to approach $100 billion as the countries pushed ahead with a drive to boost revenue and immunise their economies against volatile oil sales.

From around $33 billion in 1990, the cumulative capital pumped in the GCC's manufacturing sector leapt to nearly $98 billion by end-2001, according to Doha-based Gulf Organisation for Industrial Consulting (Goic).

Saudi Arabia emerged as the biggest industrial power, accounting for nearly 68 per cent of the total. The UAE was second with more than 10 per cent. The massive investments also sharply boosted the number of industrial units in the region from around 4,380 to 7,680.

A breakdown showed industrial capital in Saudi Arabia jumped from $17.5 billion to $60.7 billion while factories surged by 56 per cent to 3,270. Investment in manufacturing in the UAE soared from $5.5 billion to nearly $9.2 billion, pushing up industrial establishments by 168 per cent to 2,147.

In Kuwait, investment in this sector shot up from around $4 billion to $8.5 billion and industrial units by 23 per cent to around 705. In Qatar, such investments surged from $1.1 billion to around $3.2 billion and the number of manufacturing units by 41 per cent to 403.

Capital pumped into Bahrain's industry grew from $3.6 billion to $5.3 billion and industrial units by 43 per cent to 348. In Oman, such industrial capital increased from 989 million to $2.1 billion and industrial units by around 106 per cent to 769, according to the report.

Experts said combined GCC industrial investments covered mainly petrochemicals, cement, aluminium, paper, home appliances, furniture, machinery, equipment, spare parts and electrical products.

ARAB SUMMIT ADOPTS SAUDI PEACE PLAN

The Arab summit ended on Thursday with a ground-breaking plan offering Israel peace and security in return for its pullout from territory occupied since 1967, amid warnings of a new Israeli offensive on the Palestinian headquarters in the West Bank.

The offer was contained in a final statement called the Beirut Declaration read to the closing session of a summit full of dramatic incidents, including no-shows by heavyweight leaders, a Palestinian walk-out and the beginning of a reconciliation between Iraq and Kuwait.

The declaration said a committee would be set up to pursue the Saudi peace initiative, which was unanimously adopted by the summit, including with the United Nations Security Council. The declaration also "categorically rejects" any military strike against Iraq, which had earlier pledged never to invade Kuwait again.

Iraqi number two Ezzat Ibrahim earlier embraced Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and greeted Kuwaiti First Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah.

GCAA REPORTS DH14.8M PROFIT FOR 2001

The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has reported a profit of Dh14.8 million on revenues of Dh67.4 million for 2001.

The results were achieved despite the uncertainty cast on the aviation industry by the September 11 events. The authority held a board meeting to discuss and set future targets.

The meeting was attended by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman of Emirates Group, and Ahmed Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of Communications and chairman GCAA.

Ghanim Al Ghaith, director general of GCAA said: "The profits will be added to the GCAA capital of Dh300 million, and will be capitalised for the development of equipment and training."

JAPAN NON-OIL TRADE WITH UAE SET TO RISE

Japan is stepping up its non-oil trade with the UAE to increase total bilateral volumes. As a first step, a Japan Today exhibition is being organised in Abu Dhabi next month, top Japanese officials confirmed.

Although Japan's trade with the UAE has been growing, there are areas in the non-oil sector where Japan can increase its exports.

Oil and gas constitutes some 85 per cent of trade between Japan and UAE.

Japan's trade with the UAE grew 0.26 per cent to $8.3 billion during the first half of 2001, compared to $8.2 billion during the corresponding period in 2000, as per the latest figures available.

OMAN, CHINA SIGN OIL DEAL

Oman signed a one-year agreement on Saturday to supply crude oil to China's state-run Unipec and Sinochem as from July 2002.

Under the agreement, the Chinese traders together will buy a total of 34,000 barrels a day of Omani crude oil. Officials did not specify how much the deal was worth.

"China has shown interest in buying more oil than the quantity signed on Saturday and we are looking at the oil availability to see what we can offer in the future," Salim bin Mohammed Shaaban, Oman's Oil Ministry under-secretary, told reporters at the signing ceremony in Muscat.

Oman, an independent oil producer, has reduced its output by 40,000 barrels per day (bpd) as from January in collaboration with Opec to boost crude oil prices.

Omani Oil Minister Mohammed al-Rumhy has said enforcement of its cut left Oman pumping 915,000 bpd of crude oil and condensates during February and exporting roughly 830,000 bpd.

ARABS SEE ISRAEL BIGGEST ECONOMIC CHALLENGE

Arab finance and economy ministers on Saturday kicked off preparations for Arab summit with a call for greater efforts to face the economic challenge posed by Israel.

Lebanese Economy Minister Basil Fuleihan told envoys from the 22-member political grouping that the region faced renewed global challenges and increased competition since the events of September 11.

"Our biggest challenge is in our continued struggle with our Israeli enemy," Fuleihan said. "Our struggle with Israel is not just a military, political, ideological struggle, but an economic struggle to reach European and world markets and to draw in international investment," Fuleihan said.

Israel boasts one of the highest annual per capita incomes in the region, reaching $16,310 in 1999, compared with $360 in Yemen, the poorest Arab state, according to the latest World Bank figures.

MOVE TO LIFT IMPORT BAN ON LIVESTOCK

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is to consider lifting a ban imposed on imports of live animals from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan last year.

The UAE banned imports from seven countries following the outbreak of foot and mouth disease as a precautionary measure to protect local livestock from the disease.

Engineer Saif Al Shraa, Acting Director of the Animal Wealth Department, explained that the Ministry intends to lift the ban on live animal imports from these two countries, in consultation with the GCC Secretary General, and the international organisations concerned such as the Paris-based Epidemic Diseases Office, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and the Arab Organisation for Agricultural Organisation.

SHARJAH STAKE IN NBS COMES DOWN TO 27PC

The Sharjah Government's holding in National Bank of Sharjah (NBS) has come down by around 36 per cent following the issue of 10 per cent new shares to Kuwait Finance House (KFH) during 2001.

The bank also sold a big chunk of its holding, which is equivalent to 10 per cent of total share capital, to KFH.

These two developments have brought down the government stake in NBS from 42 per cent as of end-2000, to 27 per cent as of end-2001 a 36 per cent effective drop.

BAHRAIN TO STRENGTHEN TIES WITH IRAN AND IRAQ

Bahrain is to strengthen its economic relations with Iraq and Iran by offering their businessmen and investors "major procedural concessions", a senior Bahraini official announced.

He also said the maritime line between the island and both countries will be reinstated "very soon".

HYUNDAI MOBIS SEES $40M REVENUE

Part of the diversified South Korean industrial conglomerate, Hyundai Mobis, the spare parts company, forecasts revenues from the Middle East and East Africa to fetch around $40 million this year.

Projections for 2003 and 2004 are for $45 million and $60 million respectively. The region represents one of the stronger growth markets for the company, according to its chairman, Park Jeong In.

DUBAI FIRM, AL FUTTAIM INK MEGA DEAL

Dubai Transport Corp has singed a multi-million dirham contract with Al Futtaim Motors for 473 Toyota Camry units, as part of a strategy to update the level of services of its fleet.

ISRAEL ATTACKS ARAFAT COMPOUND

Israeli tanks last moved into Ramallah two weeks ago. About 30 Israeli tanks moved into the West Bank town of Ramallah early on Friday, surrounding the offices of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Army bulldozers have started to demolish a wall of the compound, where the Palestinian leader remains confined.

Gun battles have broken out between Israeli troops and Mr Arafat's bodyguards and four Palestinians were reported wounded during heavy exchanges of fire as the tanks entered the town.

The move came after the Israeli cabinet decided to "completely isolate" Mr Arafat and mobilise army reservists.

OMANI LAW TO FIGHT MONEY LAUNDERING

The Sultanate of Oman enacted a much-awaited money laundering law in the wake of growing white-collar crimes worldwide.

A Royal Decree issued by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos said that the new law will be effective from the date it is published in the official gazette.

"Article 2 cancels all that contravenes the attached law or contravenes its provisions."

The law has come into force after a series of debates and deliberations involving foreign experts trained in the subject of money laundering and other financial and monetary irregularities rampant worldwide.

UAE-CHINA INVESTMENT, TRADE TO SOAR

Trade and investment between the UAE and China is tipped to increase because of the opening of the latter's markets, said Madam Wu Yi, State Councilor, China.

The petrochemical and manufacturing sectors are set to get the biggest boost, said Yi while visiting the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI).

Accompanied by 20 senior Chinese business people, Yi said that China "offers a lot of potential scope for investment in the future.

Currently, Iran is China's largest trading partner in the Middle East, while the UAE is ranked second.

In 1999, China was the second largest exporter of goods to Dubai. Exports from China to Dubai reached Dh5.4 billion while in the same year Dubai's exports to China came to Dh50 million.

SAUDIS IN BID TO SORT OUT UNEMPLOYMENT PROBLEM

Saudi Arabia is considering further action to bar foreigners from some jobs as part of a drive to tackle a festering unemployment problem caused by heavy reliance on foreigners and slow economic growth.

But experts believe such measures would be doomed without strict implementation as an employment drive launched a decade ago has made no tangible progress and hundreds of thousands of Saudis remain jobless.

TEL AVIV REJECTS RIYADH PEACE PLAN

An Israeli official said the Saudi peace plan adopted at the Arab summit Thursday was "unacceptable" in its current form, warning that Palestinian refugees' right of return would destroy the Jewish state.

"We cannot accept the right of return. It would mean a situation where there are two Palestinian states," foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon told AFP.

He said the proposal to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as the return of millions of Palestinian refugees into Israel would lead to the decimation of the Jewish state.