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

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GULF

June 24 - 30, 2002

GCC TO IMPOSE TOUGH ANTI-DUMPING LAW

Once the GCC uniform customs tariff comes into effect and the Gulf becomes one free market place only the fittest would survive although Gulf investors would be given protection through a strong anti-dumping law, according to a top Omani government official.

"We are determined to protect our industries with an anti-dumping law," said Ali bin Masoud Al Sunaidi, undersecretary at Oman's Ministry of Commerce and Industry. He spoke to Gulf News on the sidelines of a meeting of the Industries undersecretaries from GCC states at the Al Ghubra Guesthouse in Muscat.

"Some measures will be in place by the anti-dumping law whereby GCC companies are protected if there's an issue of dumping," he said.

"I think dumping is getting a serious problem in the region," he added. Al Sunaidi said they have been getting a lot of complaints in the consumer sector. However, "we are yet to prove that there's a problem of dumping."

He further clarified that some of the complaints were not exactly dumping issues. But, he added: "there are also problems of specifications and inferior products are floating around in the (GCC) market."

Al Sunaidi cautioned not to mix the issues of 'dumping' and flooding the market with inferior products.

But he assured that the anti-dumping law would look at a product manufactured and sold at a lower value than its production cost. Al Sunaidi insisted that products coming from outside the GCC would have to stick to the specifications laid out in the region. "Our markets are governed by good specification laws whereby any goods sold within the GCC countries here goes by the minimum standard we specify to our own industries to adhere to," he pointed out.

ARAB BANKS MAY LOSE RACE TO FUND OIL PROJECTS

Arab banks is likely to be overrun by giant international institutions launching a blitz to capture the main share of contracts to finance regional oil expansion projects given their limited resources and administrative restrictions, an official Arab institution said.

Arab states, mainly Gulf oil producers, will have to pump at least $84 billion into projects in five years to raise their oil, gas, refining and petrochemical production capacity and around $35 billion, or 42 per cent, will have to be raised through banks, said the Saudi Arabia-based Arab Petro-leum Investment Corp (Apicorp).

Arab banks are expected to contribute between $10-15 billion to those loans provided they demonstrate their ability to ensure liquidity, it said.

"The question is whether Arab banking institutions are capable of providing those funds and playing an acceptable role in such an activity in their current situation," said.

"Arab governments used to finance most of those projects from their own coffers, but the situation has changed and their coffers are drying up, giving way to regional financial institutions to play their part in financing. In the current circumstances, we are not very optimistic that Arab commercial and Islamic banks will play that role in the near future."

In a study on oil projects in the Arab world and funding potentials, Apicorp estimated regional states need to spend around $21 billion on crude oil output capacity expansions between 2002 and 2006 while nearly $36 billion would have to be invested in new gas projects and expansions, $20 billion in petrochemicals and $7 billion in refining.

Most of the projects would be carried out in Gulf states as well as in Egypt, Libya and Algeria, which make up Oapec along with Syria and Iraq.

Qatar and Oman have resorted to borrowing to finance their LNG projects but the bulk of the funds were provided by foreign banks.

ARAB NATIONS LAUNCH MEDIA CAMPAIGN

Arab nations have agreed to spend $22.5m on a media campaign aimed at correcting what they say are Western perceptions of Arabs as terrorists and redressing a perceived pro-Israeli bias in news coverage.

After two days of deliberations at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Arab information ministers agreed to set up a "media observatory", either in Europe or the US, to put forward the Palestinian view of the Middle East conflict.

In their final statement ministers denounced Israel's "racist" policy toward the Palestinians and said they rejected attempts in the West to equate Palestinian resistance to the 35-year-old Israeli occupation with "terrorism".

UAE, CHINA DISCUSS WAYS TO BOLSTER TIES

Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Economy and Commerce, discussed with Chairman of the Chinese International Trade Development Council, Yuo Chau Sung, economic, trade and investment relations between the UAE and China and means of bolstering them.

A memorandum of understanding between the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) and the Chinese council was also signed by the two officials.

Sheikh Fahim is on an official visit to China at the head of a delegation to explore avenues to broaden the scope of economic and trade ties with China and make use of Chinese know-how and technology in development projects in the UAE.

The two sides examined the possibility of setting up joint ventures in water technology, industry, telecommunications and other fields.

AJMAN REPORTS TRADE SURPLUS

The tiny emirate of Ajman has bucked the national trend in its non-oil foreign trade as its exports last year formed the largest component at more than 50 per cent of the total.

Other emirates in the UAE and especially the trading hub of Dubai generally have imports accounting for about 74 to 75 per cent of total non-oil foreign trade worth Dh1.92 billion.

In Ajman, exports and re-exports accounted for 54.53 per cent of trade in 2001, while imports accounted for 46.47 per cent leaving the emirate with a surplus balance of payments of Dh135.7 million.

Of the total trade of Dh1.92 billion, exports stood at Dh963 million, imports at Dh893.3 million and re-exports at Dh66 million.

UAE GETS EC NOD TO EXPORT FISH PRODUCTS

The UAE received the European Commission's green light to export marine products to Eurozone countries.

The decision is to be published in the EC's official journal, and exports from the UAE can begin three days later, officials in Brussels confirmed.

A spokesperson for the health and consumer protection directorate general explained the UAE has been placed in Part II of the list of countries that are allowed to export marine products to Euroland.

"Since Part II is a temporary list which lasts until the end of next year, by January 1, 2004 at the latest, the UAE will have to move to Part I in order for imports to continue," the spokesperson said.

Listing in Part II allows bilateral trade with individual member states, rather than automatic trade with the full single market, the spokesperson added, while indicating this is a prior requirement to verify compliance with all rules before the country gets upgraded to Part I of the list.

CALL TO PROTEST AGAINST ISRAELI GENOCIDE

The Orthodox Church of Jerusalem has urged churches around the world to protest against Israeli atrocities committed against innocent women and children in the Holy Land.

Dr Fr Attallah Hanna, official spokesman of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, called upon the churches to break their silence over the Israeli genocide.

Delivering a lecture at the Zayed Centre for Coordination and Follow-Up, Dr Fr Hanna said: "We call upon world churches, especially the Vatican, to raise their voices against barbaric acts of Israel and play their role to help bring permanent peace in the region.

ARAFAT SAYS HALT BOMBINGS, ISRAEL LAUNCHES RAIDS

Yasser Arafat demanded an end to Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians and Israel called up some reserve soldiers to reinforce its incursions into Palestinian areas after two suicide bombings.

Palestinian militants immediately rebuffed the Palestinian president's appeal.

The suicide bombings, which killed 25 Israelis, prompted U.S. President George W. Bush to put off a speech charting a course towards Palestinian statehood, apparently concerned it could offend Israelis and seem to reward the bombers.

POPULAR BOYCOTT HITS U.S. EXPORTS

A boycott of U.S. goods by Saudis angered by Washington's Middle East policies has led to a sharp fall in U.S. exports to Saudi Arabia, diplomats and economists said.

Official U.S. figures show exports plunged 33 per cent to $2.8 billion between September, the month that suicide-bombers attacked U.S. cities, and March.

In the first quarter of 2002, exports fell 43 per cent to $986 million from $1.74 billion a year earlier. Many Saudi consumers have shifted to European and Japanese products, encouraged by campaigners wearing Palestinian chequered headscarves, residents said.

TOURIST ARRIVALS SET TO RISE AS DSS KICKS OFF

The Dh65 million Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) 2002 was opened by Sheikh Saeed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at a glittering ceremony which included a colourful parade of chefs at BurJuman Centre.

The event also marked the opening of Food Surprises week, the first among the ten theme-based weekly promotions.

EMNEX LOSES 8.96 POINTS

The Emnex suffered a moderate loss when the market performance indicator fell 8.96 points before closing at 1990.60.

'FOUR KILLED' IN IRAQ AIR STRIKES

Iraq says four people have been killed and 10 wounded in an air strike launched by US and British warplanes.

A US statement said the planes had launched an attack against an Iraqi military command and control centre in a no-fly zone south-east of Baghdad.

OIL PRICES UP

The price of oil edged higher in late trade on Wednesday as the release of supportive data on US inventories helped the markets claw back earlier losses.

A barrel of Brent North Sea crude for August delivery rose 29 cents to $25.08 by late afternoon.

In New York, light sweet crude July-dated futures gained 34 cents to $25.77.

EMIRATES AIRLINE

Emirates airline, which has announced an 11 per cent increase in its profits from $115 million to $127 million for the year ending March 31, against all odds, is set to emerge as one of the top five airlines globally in terms of profitability.

CONSORTIUM TO MARKET OMAN PROPERTY

An international consortium said it had been awarded a mandate by Oman to market seven kilometres of beach front property that could attract $1 billion of investment to the country.

The consortium, comprised if Lebanese real estate consultants Ramco, U.S. firm CB Richard Ellis and its British subsidiary Hillier Parker said the project was part of Oman's strategy of opening up to foreign investment.

FUJITSU SIEMENS

Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Europe's leading information technology company and one of the top four IT vendors in the UAE, will open its Middle East and Africa head office in Dubai Inter-net City by the end of the year.

EU CLEARS DSM

The European Commission has approved the takeover of DSM's petrochemical activities by an affiliate of Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Corp (Sabic). The transfer is expected to take place by the end of June.

IRAN SPEAKS UP FOR WATER RIGHTS

Iran is raising its voice in a long-running dispute with Afghanistan over water rights.

Four years of drought has left Lake Hamoun in eastern Iran completely dry.

UN officials said that the effects of the drought were exacerbated when the Taleban dammed the Helmand River in central Afghanistan, which waters the lake.

An Iranian official has now declared that greater precipitation in Afghanistan means that water can again be allowed to flow across the border.

The top environmental official in Iran's Sistan-Baluchistan Province, where the lake is situated, called on the Iranian Government to press Afghanistan to co-operate.