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GULF STATES – ECONOMICS & FINANCE
GCC launches investigation to protect steel industry

The GCC has started a safeguard investigation on certain steel products to protect the region’s domestic steel industry, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has said. Oman, which is the president of the Cooperation Council for the GCC, submitted the application to the WTO on behalf of the member states. A safeguard investigation seeks to determine whether increased imports of a product are causing, or threatening to cause, serious injury to a domestic industry. During a safeguard investigation, importers, exporters, and other interested parties may present evidence and views and respond to the presentations of other parties.

The investigation covers the period from January 2014 to June 2019 and will focus on hot rolled flat products, various rebar and wire rods, sections, and welded and seamless.

“Interested parties willing to receive a questionnaire should request it no later than 10 days from the date of publication of the initiation notice of the investigation,” the WTO said in a statement.

The hearing will be held at the premises of the GCC-Bureau of Technical Secretariat for Anti Injurious Practices in International Trade (GCC-TSAIP) for all interested parties to present their views and arguments.

Projected sales boom lifts UAE business confidence

Business confidence in the UAE is on the upswing as preparations for Expo 2020 Dubai gain momentum, two surveys show.

While 83 percent of the UAE’s businesses anticipate sales growth over the next 12 months alone, at least 35 percent are looking to grow by 15 percent or more, according to HSB’s “Navigator: Now, next and how” survey report.

The survey of over 9,100 companies in 35 countries and territories, noted that with businesses, tourists and officials from 190 countries set to visit the UAE for Expo 2020, companies in the UAE are already assessing the medium to long-term international opportunities the global event will bring.

According to another survey published by the National Bank of Kuwait, the UAE’s economic outlook remains stable, despite a slowing global economy, trade disputes, softer energy demand and heightened geopolitical tensions. “Growth prospects in the medium term remain solid however further efforts towards diversification and continued progress in fiscal, private sector and regulatory reform will be required to weather the possibility of continued adverse external shocks,” NBK report said.

“The UAE’s significant diversification efforts has meant that the country is increasingly viewed as an innovative hub for trade – benefitting both domestic and international businesses. Vision 2021 combined with Expo’s international reach and connectivity are driving opportunities for export minded companies,” said Mike Davis, Head of Commercial Banking, HSBC UAE.

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GIES 2020 to be held under expo 2020 Dubai umbrella

The fifth edition of the Global Islamic Economy Summit (GIES 2020) is set to run from November 9-10, 2020, and will take place on the sidelines of Expo 2020 Dubai, the first World Expo ever to be hosted in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia region.

The announcement was made by the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC). GIES is organised every other year by the DIEDC in collaboration with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Dubai Chamber) and Refinitiv, and under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Through highlighting the role of Islamic economy in improving standards of living and promoting sustainable economic development, the summit aims to strengthen Dubai’s status as the global capital of Islamic economy.

As part of the GIES 2020 agenda, the Islamic Economy Award will honour the most innovative initiatives and projects that leverage the Islamic economy concept of ethical business and responsible economic practices to positively impact society. In addition, the summit will host a series of parallel discussions on a wide range of socio-economic issues. The list of distinguished speakers will feature international businessmen who have taken the halal industry to new heights through global expansion, thereby encouraging a new generation of Islamic economy entrepreneurs.

“Including the fifth edition of GIES alongside Expo 2020 Dubai supports the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to establish Dubai as the global capital of Islamic economy,” said Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai. “GIES 2020 will provide an ideal platform for a meaningful conversation about the Islamic economy and the global opportunities that can be leveraged to ensure its sustainability. Dubai has consolidated its leading position in the field due to the pioneering role it has played to date in the development of a viable Islamic economy framework.”

Payment delays biggest challenge for Dubai and UAE firms

Dubai – Payment delays and debt collections are the biggest challenges faced by the companies in Dubai and the UAE and the delays are both from the government, semi-government entities and private firms, a senior official of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on Monday.

Hamad Buamim, president and CEO of Dubai Chamber, said if both public and private entities start making payment on time it will be easier to speed up economic recovery as

“We conduct survey every quarter and this has consistently been the biggest issue recently. We don’t want to be in a situation we were back in 2008-09 so we are trying to address this issue ahead of time and encouraging government and private entities to take steps,” Buamim said during Dubai Dialogue 2019 conference held on Monday.

He blamed economic slowdown for the payment delay issue being faced in Dubai, the UAE and even in the GCC region.

Buamim stressed that the timely payment by the government and private sector will speed up the economic recovery.

The UAE economy, even the wider GCC economy as well, is experiencing slowdown mainly due to lower oil prices and fall in property prices. On October 15, the International Monetary Fund slashed UAE’s 2019 growth forecast from 2.8 percent in April 2019 to 1.6 percent. In addition, next year’s growth was also cut by 0.8 percent to 2.5 percent.

 

How visa reforms boost UAE economy

The UAE is led by a vision to build a knowledge-based economy and this is affirmed by a slew of measures it has undertaken to facilitate entrepreneurs in the country as well as foreign investors. The series of visa reforms initiated by the government will enhance the UAE’s attractiveness among expats, encouraging knowledge workers to pursue longer stints in the country. The presence of rich expat talent will persuade foreign companies to enter and operate from the UAE.

Typing centres in Dubai are seeing an unusual rush for investors applying for five- and 10-year visas.

“We have lot of enquiries for five- and 10-year visas, which are being issued from immigration and land departments only. Investors are showing more confidence and they are willing to invest more in the UAE, which will assure surge in the cash flow,” Firose Khan, manager of Arabian Business Centre, said.

The UAE government has opened up visas to welcome foreign investments and boost trade ties as it serves the Mena region as the gateway for the same. The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship issued the first Golden Residence Permit in Abu Dhabi, as part of the Investors Permanent Residence System implemented under a UAE Cabinet resolution, which aims to help investors, entrepreneurs and qualified individuals who meet its criteria.

4,000 more products to be added to UAE’S excise tax list

The Federal Tax Authority has said that the prices of 4,000 more products will be affected by the new excise tax, set to be implemented on December 1, 2019.

Khalid Ali Al Bustani, Director-General of the Federal Tax Authority, said that the total number of products included in the selective tax will reach 13,000, including the previous 9,000 products added before, Arabic daily Emarat Al Youm said.

Additionally, he reiterated that the minimum cost for tobacco products is 40 fils per cigarette, which makes it Dh8 for a pack of 20.

He added that for shisha tobacco, the excise cost will be10 fils for one gram, which makes it Dh25 for a 250g pack.

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Good news: no excise tax on these products in UAE

Curbing harmful consumption patterns and enhancing the standard of living are the leading objectives behind the Cabinet decision to expand the scope of excise tax, asserted Khalid Ali Al Bustani, Director-General of the Federal Tax Authority, FTA, at a media workshop organised by the authority on Tuesday, October 29, 2019.

Al Bustani explained that the expansion of excise tax answers directives from the UAE’s wise leadership to enhance the country’s competitiveness and expedite plans to build a safe, healthy community, by curbing the consumption of harmful products, diversifying sources of income, and expanding the public services offered by the government.

FTA officials attended the workshop, giving a detailed presentation about Cabinet Decision No. (52) of 2019 on excise goods, excise tax rates, and the methods of calculating the excise price. The decision goes into effect on December 1, 2019, expanding the list of goods subject to excise tax to include sweetened drinks, electronic smoking devices and tools, and the liquids used in these devices, which will be added to the items that have carried the tax since it first went into effect on October 1, 2017, namely, tobacco and tobacco products, energy drinks, and carbonated beverages.

Al Bustani said the products that would be exempt from the new decision include ready-to-drink beverages containing at least 75 percent milk or milk substitutes, baby formula, follow-up formula, or baby food, beverages consumed for special dietary needs, and beverages consumed for medical uses.

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