The End of the Age of Free Trade

The Russian government presented three days ago a draft law stipulating that selling the shares of any strategic company to the foreign investors is prohibited unless it is approved by a specialized governmental committee headed by the Prime Minister.
The American President signed on the 26th of July, 2007 the bill that grants the commission of monitoring of the foreign investments more authorities, and calls for asking the help of the intelligence services for supervising important deals signed with the foreign investors.
The European Commission for Trade said on the 24th of July that the commissionary proposed the revival of dealing by (The Golden Shares), which are the shares preserved by governments of the European countries for prohibiting the selling of important strategic companies to the foreign investors.
So has the age of free trade ended? The Russian expert “Mikhail Khazin” answers this question by saying that free trade is no longer exists, and that more restrictions on the freedom of investment should be imposed. He goes on to say that the reason is the volume of financial sources which are “wondering all over the world” is growing faster than the materialistic sources.

An Emirate Integration Process Produces a New Banking Giant in the Gulf

Emirates Bank Internationaland National Bank of Dubai have announced that they completed the conditions of their integration which would allow to create a new banking giant which is the biggest in the Gulf with a total market values and assets by more than 11 billion US$.

1 billion US$, the European Financial Aids to the Palestinians this Year

The European Commissionary said that the total European Financial Aids offered to the Palestinians since the beginning of this year is more than one billion US$, pointing out that the commissionary granted more than half of this some of money, whereas member states of the European Union granted the rest of the money through signing bilateral agreements with the Palestinian side.

Corruption Hinders Efforts of Reconstruction in Iraq

The American agency, supervising the efforts of reconstruction in Iraq , told B.B.C that the bad economic management and corruption in Iraq are considered as a second rebellion in this country.
US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart Bowen, said that the Iraqi government failed in shouldering responsibility of executing projects estimated by millions of US$, adding that the agency is investigating more than 50 fraud cases.

The Syrian Ministry of Transportation Signs an Agreement with the Iranian Amiran Company

The Syrian Ministry of Transportation decided to hold a meeting on the first of next August with the Iranian “Amiran” company with regard to a memorandum of understanding signed between the two sides on importing 1200 buses and operating them in Damascus governorate.
The Iranian company had already signed a memorandum of understanding with the General Company of the Syrian Interior Transportation in September 2006 for importing 1200 buses in addition to presenting an overall study for developing means of interior transportation and traffics systems in Damascus city. It is worth mentioning that the Iranian Company would operate the buses in Damascus streets for 30 years.

140 million US$, the Value of a Loan to Egypt to Face Pollution

The Egyptian government announced that it signed a number of agreements with international bodies and institutions for granting it a loan of 140 million US$ to face the different kinds of industrial pollution.

Iran Refuses the Increase of OPEC Production of Oil

The Iranian Minister of Oil Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh, said last Sunday that the increase of oil prices currently is due to political reasons and the continuous shortage of fuel in America. He added that the increase of the production of oil would not affect all prices in the current conditions; therefore there is no reason for OPEC to increase its production which is estimated now by 8.25 million barrels per day.

Dubai Seaports Company Offers 120 million dollar for Investment in Algeria

Well informed sources told Al-Khabar that negotiations are being held now between “Dubai Seaports” group and the Algerian authorities for granting the former share in the containers in “Jenjen” seaport.
The Emirati company expressed its readiness to invest 130-150 million US$ for modernizing the seaport and bringing new equipment.

Mauritanian Looks for a Trade Partnership with Countries of Western Africa

The Mauritani Foreign Minister said that his country is holding negotiations for establishing a partnership according to the formula of free trade exchange with the economic commonwealth of the countries of Western Africa after it left it in 2000.
The Mauritani minister added that his country is negotiating on a kind of partnership with the Commonwealth with the formula of free trade exchange zone.

Half a millions US$, the Profits of “The Arab Bank” during the First Half of 2007

The Arab Bank achieved profits of 495.4 million US$ during the first half of this year before collecting taxes and allocations, opposite to 427.9 million US$ of the same period of last year, according to Mr. Abdul Majeed Shoman, Chairman of the Board of the Arab Bank in a statement issued yesterday.

Companies Indexes

- The Algerian minister of Energy said that “Sonatrach” company has not received any suitable proposal for coalition with its French counterpart “Gaz De France”, which was offered as an alternative for the integration of the French utilities company with its competitor “Suez”.
- The Spanish “Repsol YPF” oil company has sold its share of 26% in the petro-chemicals factory (Polymed) in Algeria for the Algerian Governmental Oil and Gas Company “Sonatrach”.
- The Housing Bank for Trade and Financing celebrated the opening of new branch in Bethlehem, raising the number of the bank’s branches in the Palestinian territories to ten.
- The holding “Al-Mamlaka” company, owned by the Saudi billionaire Prince al Waleed Bin Talal, announced that one of its companies possessed “Four Seasons” hotel in Jakarta in return for 48 million US$.

Small Indexes

- King of Morocco has inaugurated the station of marine cargo on the Mediterranean in Tanger seaport with a total capacity of 3.4 million containers.
- The Moroccan minister of Finance said that 2007 will be characterized by a deficit in the budget estimated by 2% of the GDP.
- The Algerian minister of Telecommunications, Boudjemaa Haichour, said that 45 international telecommunications companies are expecting the privatization of “Algeria Telecoms” company.
- The syndicate of manufacturer in Israel announced that the industrial exports have declined (except diamond) with an average of 0.5% in the second quarter of this year compared to the first quarter reaching 8.2 billion US$.
- The Iranian Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Mohammad Jahromi, announced that 80.000 refugees have returned to their homeland voluntarily in 2006 and the beginning of this year, adding that there are 90.000 illegal refugees in Iran.

Bids & Contracts

- The net profits of the biggest private bank in Turkey in terms of market value have increased in the first half of this year by 35% reaching 1.2 billion lira (923) million dollars.
- The “Saudi Aramco” Company announced that it achieved the best standard in the field of producing crude oil for addressing the increasing demands, adding that the maximum production capacity reached 10.8 million barrels per day.

Exhibitions & Conferences

- The Second International Exhibition for Tourism and affiliated industries, was opened yesterday in the Iranian (Ardbel) governorate. Participants in the five-day exhibition companies of touristic services and secondary industries in Iran in addition to the Turkish cultural consulate and representatives of touristic establishments in Malaysia, Tanzania, and Sweden.

Indicators is a daily economic watch newsletter about the Near East, issued by New Orient News agency in Beirut, Lebanon. It is available on Voltairenet.org in Arabic and English. Also worth a read is Tendencies, the daily Near East political watch newsletter, available in Arabic, English and French languages.