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January, 2016

US hardwood exports to Mena up 18pc

THE total exports of US hardwood lumber to the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region hit $66.25 million during the first three quarters of 2015, up 18 per cent in value over the same period last year, said a report.

The volume of the exported US hardwood lumber also increased by 13 per cent, up to 81,402 cubic meters, according to the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry.

In addition, direct exports of US hardwood veneers to the Mena reached a total value of $21.96 million during the January to September period of this year, falling by three per cent in comparison to the same period in 2014, stated AHEC.

“All signs point to a record year for exports of American hardwood lumber and veneer to the Mena region. Assuming a vibrant last quarter, exports to the Mena region are on track to reach a record high this year and to break the 100,000 cubic meter mark,” remarked Roderick Wiles, the director for Africa, Middle East, South Asia and Oceania.

“Overall growth in exports to the region was driven largely by shipments to the two biggest markets in the GCC – Saudi Arabia and the UAE – where construction and renovation activity is extremely buoyant,” he stated.

 

Abu Dhabi to invest in infrastructure

ABU DHABI has allocated more than $4.6 billion for major government projects with a lion’s share to be spent on housing and road and transport infrastructure, said a report.

The emirate’s executive council, which approved the allocation, said these projects will cover all key sectors including education and upgradation work at different governmental facilities, reported the Emirati News Agency Wam.

The council’s move comes as part of the Abu Dhabi government’s aim to fulfil the objectives and goals set in the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030.

Out of the allocated amount, about $2.77 billion will be pumped into housing and infrastructure development projects.

The Abu Dhabi Executive Council also agreed to award the contracts pertaining to infrastructure works in the “Emirati Neighborhood” project, located in Madinat Zayed, between Mohamed Bin Zayed City and Abu Dhabi International Airport.

The project is divided into three contracts including infrastructure work, roads and trails networks, in addition to 2,755 residential land plots, 37 mosques, 47 gardens and 13 schools for all education stages, said the report.

 

UAE ranked among world’s top traders

THE UAE has been ranked 16th among the world’s top exporters and 19th in terms of imports by a World Trade Organisation (WTO) report.

The organisation’s Report on International Trade Trends said that the UAE’s merchandise exports reached $359 billion in 2014, which was 1.89 per cent of the total world exports.

The same report revealed that the country’s imports amounted to $262 billion, which was 1.37 per cent of total global imports.

Breakdown in economy’s total activities by main commodity group (ITS) is agricultural products (2.2 per cent exported versus 6.8 per cent imported), fuels and mining products (31 per cent exported versus 4.5 per cent imported), and a significant percentage for manufactures (23.6 per cent exported versus 53.2 per cent imported).

According to the WTO report, the UAE exports breakdown by countries is India (9.6 per cent); Iran (5.6 per cent); the European Union (2.2 per cent); Switzerland (1.9 per cent); Iraq (1.3 per cent); and the rest of the world (26 per cent).

The imports breakdown by counties is the European Union (16.3 per cent); India (13.6 per cent); China (7.1 per cent); the United States (6.9 per cent); Japan (3.9 per cent); and the rest of the world (23.9 per cent).

The merchandise exports of the Middle East region dropped by 4 per cent during 2014 compared to 2013 while imports increased by 1 per cent for the same period. The services exports from the region increased by 6 per cent in 2014 compared to 2013 while services imports grew by 9 per cent.

The UAE accounted for 28 per cent of the Middle East merchandise exports and 33 per cent of imports during 2014.

 

GCC firms optimistic for future

SENIOR business leaders in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are optimistic about the economic outlook despite historically low oil prices and anticipated government spending cuts that could contribute to tougher market conditions next year, according to a study.

The report, by professional services firm Heidrick & Struggles, found that close to 40 per cent of respondents said that their company sales have increased more than 10 per cent.

The leaders have maintained optimistic outlook as government-led initiatives continue. In fact, up to 70 per cent of respondents are expecting sales to increase.

Key factors that contribute to the positive outlook include the developing infrastructure (39.5 per cent), the GCC’s robust economic growth forecasts (37.2 per cent), spending ahead of Expo 2020 Dubai (37.2 per cent), as well as confidence in the GCC political leadership (32.5 per cent).

However, nearly nine in ten respondents agreed that the business environment in the region has become more volatile over the last 18 months and more challenging than in 2014.

Top challenges faced by businesses were: reduced customer spending (34.6 per cent); more intense market competition (33.6 per cent); talent recruitment (31.6 per cent); and the need for increased productivity (31.6 per cent), respondents said. 

The reduced oil price (79.2 per cent), government spending cuts (51.4 per cent) and wider regional conflicts (38.6 per cent) were cited as some of the factors that may contribute to tougher market conditions and could indicate a similar business environment outlook for next year.

Companies in general have a neutral-to-positive outlook on economic conditions over the next three years (neutral 37.6 per cent; positive 42.5 per cent). In fact, up to 70 per cent of respondents are expecting sales to increase.

Government-led initiatives are the key factors that contribute to the positive outlook, including the developing infrastructure (39.5 per cent), the GCC’s robust economic growth forecasts (37.2 per cent), spending ahead of Expo 2020 Dubai (37.2 per cent), as well as confidence in the GCC political leadership (32.5 per cent), especially for respondents in conglomerates and the Industrial and Consumer sectors.

Compared to 2014, more than half of the respondents had increased their investments in the GCC so far in 2015. Of these, 23.7 per cent are aiming to expand their business in other geographies and 17.8 per cent are looking for M&A opportunities, with around 3 per cent considering closing their offices within or outside the GCC. In addition, more than half of the respondents said they will increase their headcount in 2016.




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