By Yousef Saba
DUBAI (Reuters) – Bahrain is in advanced talks for investment deals with cloud computing companies from the United States, China and the United Arab Emirates, an Economic Development Board executive said, as the country seeks to diversify its oil-based economy.
Cloud computing and foreign direct investment are key planks of Bahrain’s economic recovery programme that aims to grow non-oil gross domestic product by 5% this year and includes $30 billion in strategic projects.
The plans come as regional economic heavyweights Saudi Arabia and the UAE are also banking on technology to diversify their oil-dependent economies.
Saudi Aramco (TADAWUL:) Development Co, a subsidiary of oil behemoth Aramco, has teamed up with Google (NASDAQ:) Cloud to offer cloud services to customers in Saudi Arabia. The UAE is opening three Amazon (NASDAQ:) Web Services (AWS) centres this year.
Bahrain, which since 2018 has hosted a large AWS centre – the first in the Middle East, has introduced a “data embassy law”, the first of its kind in the region. It allows countries to store data in the country but under their jurisdiction, Ali AlMudaifa, chief investment officer of Bahrain’s Economic Development Board, told Reuters.
EDB is also in talks for a sugar refinery, management consultancy and UK insurance firms to set up shop in the small kingdom. It is also in talks for FDI deals with Israel, which are expected to be announced “soon”, he said.
Bahrain aims to achieve fiscal balance by 2024, a target delayed by two years due to the pandemic.
The medium-term fiscal plan is tied to a 2018 $10 billion aid package from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE that helped it avert a credit crunch.
“We’re willing to compete for big projects,” AlMudaifa said. “We think our value proposition stands on its own two feet, and we are also looking for synergistic opportunities between the countries.”
“We have very strong momentum and traction, a very diversified pipeline,” he said.
The recovery programme includes plans for the tourism, logistics, industrial, telecom and oil and gas sectors.
EDB alone aims to attract $1 billion in FDI and create around 4,500 jobs this year after drawing $893 million in 2021 and creating 4,861 jobs.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait comprise roughly half of Bahrain’s aggregate FDI stock, AlMudaifa said, adding he expected Gulf FDI to Bahrain to increase further. Saudi Arabia’s powerful Public Investment Fund has said it would invest $5 billion in Bahrain.
“A lot of these big strategic development projects, in due time and incrementally and gradually, will be open for private sector investment,” AlMudaifa said.
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Non-work related loss of life
NEW YORK, June 25, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Mercer International Inc. (“Mercer” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: MERC) is deeply saddened to announce that an employee has passed away at its Rosenthal mill in Germany on June 25, 2022. Mercer and local authorities conducted an investigation and so far determined that the tragic loss was not work related. Mercer’s emergency procedures were immediately activated, local authorities were notified and industrial safety and occupational health personnel were involved for support.
“We are saddened about the loss of life of one of our employees and our thoughts are with the individual’s family and colleagues,” stated Christian Soergel, Managing Director of Mercer Rosenthal. “Given the nature of the incident, we will be respecting the privacy of our employee’s family and will continue providing support to them and to all our affected employees.”
Mercer International Inc. is a global forest products company with operations in Germany, USA and Canada with a consolidated annual production capacity of 2.3 million tonnes of pulp, 550 million board feet of lumber, and 140 thousand cubic meters of CLT. To obtain further information on the company, please visit its website at www.mercerint.com.
The preceding includes forward looking statements which involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties which may cause our actual results in future periods to differ materially from forecasted results. Words such as “expects”, “anticipates”, “are optimistic that”, “projects”, “intends”, “designed”, “will”, “believes”, “estimates”, “may”, “could” and variations of such words and similar expressions are intended to identify such forward‐looking statements. Among those factors which could cause actual results to differ materially are the following: the highly cyclical nature of our business, raw material costs, our level of indebtedness, competition, foreign exchange and interest rate fluctuations, our use of derivatives, expenditures for capital projects, environmental regulation and compliance, disruptions to our production, market conditions and other risk factors listed from time to time in our SEC reports.
Jimmy S.H. Lee
Executive Chairman of the Board
Juan Carlos Bueno
President & Chief Executive Officer
Iran-U.S. nuclear talks to resume ‘in coming days’, Tehran and EU say By Reuters
© Reuters. Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell attend a joint news conference, in Tehran, Iran June 25, 2022. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agenc
By Parisa Hafezi
DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s indirect talks with the United States on reviving the 2015 nuclear pact will resume soon, the Iranian foreign minister said on Saturday amid a push by the European Union’s top diplomat to break a months-long impasse in the negotiations.
“We are prepared to resume talks in the coming days. What is important for Iran is to fully receive the economic benefits of the 2015 accord,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said, adding that he had held a “long but positive meeting” with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby (NYSE:) said he could not speak on the status of the negotiations.
“But there’s nothing changed about our position that a nuclear deal is the best way to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons status,” Kirby told reporters traveling aboard Air Force One. “We want to get them back into compliance.”
The pact appeared close to being revived in March when the EU – which is coordinating negotiations – invited foreign ministers representing the accord’s parties to Vienna to finalise an agreement after 11 months of indirect talks between Tehran and President Joe Biden’s administration.
But the talks have since been bogged down, chiefly over Tehran’s insistence that Washington remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), its elite security force, from the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization list.
“We are expected to resume talks in the coming days and break the impasse. It has been three months and we need to accelerate the work. I am very happy about the decision that has been made in Tehran and Washington,” Borrell told a televised news conference in Tehran.
Two officials, one Iranian and one European, told Reuters ahead of Borrell’s trip that “two issues including one on sanctions remained to be resolved”, comments that Iran’s Foreign Ministry has neither confirmed nor denied.
“We agreed on resumption of negotiations between Iran and U.S. in the coming days, facilitated by my team, to solve the last outstanding issues,” Borrell said.
“And the coming days mean coming days. I mean, quickly, immediately.”
In 2018, then-U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal, under which Iran agreed to curbs on its nuclear programme in return for relief from economic sanctions.
The U.S. withdrawal and its reimposition of crippling sanctions prompted Iran to begin violating its core nuclear limits about a year later.
Western powers fear Iran is getting closer to being able to produce a nuclear bomb if it decided to, though Iran says its intentions are entirely peaceful.
Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, which makes the decisions in the nuclear talks, told Borrell that Iran will further develop its nuclear programme until the West changes its “illegal behaviour”.
“Iran’s retaliatory actions in the nuclear sector are merely legal and rational responses to U.S. unilateralism and European inaction and will continue as long as the West’s illegal practices are not changed,” Shamkhani said, without elaborating.
And despite the imminent resumption of talks, Borrell appeared to play down the possibility of a quick deal.
“I cannot predict … We are pushing for it. I appreciate the goodwill from the Iranian side. There is also goodwill from the American side,” Borrell said in a news conference on an EU website.
“Talks between Iran, the U.S. and the EU will not take place in Vienna because they will not be in the 4+1 format… they will probably take place somewhere closer to the Persian Gulf and more specifically in a Persian Gulf state,” Iranian media quoted Borrell as saying.
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