OPEC daily basket price stood at $61.14 a barrel Friday

VIENNA, The price of OPEC basket of thirteen crudes stood at US$61.14 a barrel on Friday, 9th April, compared with US$61.22 the previous day, according to OPEC Secretariat calculations.

The OPEC Reference Basket of Crudes is made up of the following: Saharan Blend (Algeria), Girassol (Angola), Djeno (Congo), Zafiro (Equatorial Guinea), Rabi Light (Gabon), Iran Heavy (Iran), Basra Light (Iraq), Kuwait Export (Kuwait), Es Sider (Libya), Bonny Light (Nigeria), Arab Light (Saudi Arabia), Murban (UAE) and Merey (Venezuela).

 

Source: Emirates News Agency

Central Bank appoints Head of UAE Financial Intelligence Unit

ABU DHABI, The Governor of the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) has appointed Ali Faisal Ba’Alawi as Head of the UAE Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

This appointment represents the next step in the implementation of the UAE’s National AML/CFT Strategy and National Action Plan, the programme of reforms designed to strengthen the UAE’s anti-financial crime system following the establishment of the Executive Office to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in February 2021.

Ba’Alawi has been acting head of the FIU since March 2018 and brings more than ten years specialist experience to the role.

Khaled Mohamed Balama, Governor of the Central Bank of the UAE, commented, “Over the last two years, Ali has drawn on his deep technical skills and front-line experience to set a clear mandate for the FIU’s structure, status, and all operational aspects of its administration. Each core aspect has been based on detailed, action-orientated priorities. He has also worked tirelessly to build effective relationships across both public and private entities based on mutual trust, fairness, and reciprocity. This includes broadening relationships with international partners, investing in developing the FIU’s skills and capabilities, and driving forward the adoption of technology to strengthen the UAE’s AML defences.”

Hamid Al Zaabi, Director-General of the Executive Office of the UAE, said, “The FIU plays a key role in the UAE’s efforts against financial crime. It receives reports of suspicious transactions, analyses them, and disseminates the resulting intelligence to local law enforcement agencies while also studying, tracking, and interpreting the evolution of existing and emerging typologies of financial crime in the jurisdiction across sectors. Establishing an effective FIU is an important step in combating financial crime and a cornerstone of the UAE’s National Action Plan. The UAE offers the FIU all political support necessary to ensure its enduring success.”

Ali Faisal Ba’Alawi, Head of the UAE FIU, added, “It is with great pride that I assume this important position. Investing in the ongoing development of our FIUs is a clear signal of our collective determination to intensify efforts to focus on research, analysis, and information exchange in order to combat money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes. The UAE takes its role in protecting the integrity of the global financial system extremely seriously and an effective FIU is a critical part of our efforts. I am committed to working across all actors in our economy and beyond to enable effective enforcement.”

Ba’Alawi currently serves as the main contact point for the UAE in a number of important regional and international fora, including the Egmont Group, which represents 166 FIUs globally and provides a platform for the secure exchange of expertise and financial intelligence to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

The Executive Office, which launched on 24th February 2021, works as the primary national coordinating body on AML/CFT efforts within the UAE, holding a wide-ranging mandate to assist UAE AML/CFT related entities in enhancing efficiency to better address the country’s NAP. Its overarching objective is to enable and better equip the UAE in building a strong and sustainable AML/CFT structure in the country.

 

Source: Emirates News Agency

Dubai Chamber members’ exports up by nearly 24% in March 2021

DUBAI, The value of exports and re-exports carried out by members of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry increased by nearly 24 percent to reach AED22.1 billion in March 2021, compared to the same month last year, the organisation has revealed.

During the first quarter of 2021, the value of members’ exports and re-exports grew by 6.5 percent year-over-year (y-o-y) to reach AED54.8 billion, reflecting growing momentum and increased trade activity in Dubai, said a statement issued by Dubai Chamber on Sunday.

A total of 166,759 certificates of origin were issued by the Chamber during the first quarter of this year and March saw a high of 62,235 certificates, reflecting signs of a recovery of the trade sector and enhanced economic competitiveness.

Over 6,000 new member companies joined Dubai Chamber in the first three months of 2021, marking a growth rate of 38.6 percent y-o-y. Membership growth comes after several new initiatives and measures were unveiled over the last year, which enhanced Dubai’s value proposition to foreign investors and companies.

In addition, 174,000 electronic transactions were processed by the Chamber in the first quarter 2021, while the number of ATA Carnets (an international customs document that permits duty-free and tax-free temporary importation of goods for up to one year) that were issued and received by the Chamber reached 965 over the same period, amounting to AED1.4 billion.

Hamad Buamim, President & CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the statistics reflect improving business conditions in Dubai and the positive impact of various stimulus packages and business-friendly measures, as well as an advanced logistics infrastructure and increased efforts to boost and diversify the emirate’s foreign trade.

Buamim noted that Dubai Chamber’s 11 international offices play a crucial role in expanding Dubai’s trade links with promising markets around the world, by identifying bilateral business opportunities, promoting the emirate as a global business hub, and assisting foreign investors who are keen to enter the market.

 

Source: Emirates News Agency

Ministry of Economy extends deadline for registration of designated non-financial businesses & professions in anti-money laundering regulations until 30 April

ABU DHABI, The Ministry of Economy (MoE) announced the extension of the deadline granted to Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs) to register in the systems approved for countering money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism, until the end of April 2021. The extension has been granted due to a large number of companies in the sector coming forward to register in the last days of the previous deadline, which expired on March 31, 2021. Furthermore, the unusual circumstances faced by companies and the business sector in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic has also been taken into consideration.

The Ministry explained that it is mandatory for the targeted companies, which include brokers and real estate agents, auditors, dealers of precious metals and gemstones, and corporate service providers, to register in the goAML system and the Automatic Reporting System for Sanctions Lists before the end of the new deadline. The registration in these systems can be done free of cost. After the registration, they should also take the specified measures to ensure full compliance with the requirements of Federal Law No. 20 of 2018 on anti-money laundering, combating the financing of terrorism and illegal organizations, and their implementing regulations and relevant decisions.

The Ministry called on the concerned companies to take advantage of the new extended period for registration to avoid the penalties and fines stipulated in the law, which will be imposed starting from May 1, 2021. Fines start from AED 50,000 and go up to AED 5 million, while the penalties for companies that fail to register could even lead to the revocation of the license or closure of the facility itself.

Abdullah Sultan Al Fan Al Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary for the Monitoring and Following-up Sector at the Ministry of Economy, explained that due to an increased levels of response from the DNFBPs identified for compulsory registration, the Ministry of Economy, in coordination with its partners from the relevant government entities, decided to extend the grace period granted to the target companies and give them more time until the end of the current month to complete the registration process. Once the registration process is complete, they should start taking the necessary legal measures to ensure full compliance with the requirements of the law and its implementing regulations.

Al Shamsi continued: “The goal is not to impose violations, but to ensure compliance, and the decision was taken considering the conditions that various companies and business sectors are going through as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and its repercussions on a global scale.” He affirmed that the Ministry is keen to build a solid and positive relationship with the private sector based on the principle of partnership, cooperation and oversight, and is committed to its efforts to communicate and raise awareness. These efforts will form the foundations for enhancing the commitment of the concerned companies to the requirements of the law, and DNFBPs are major partners in the UAE’s efforts to counter money laundering, he noted. Therefore, they have a pivotal role in supporting government efforts to build a safe and stable economic environment free from money laundering and terrorism financing crimes.

Al Shamsi pointed out that many of the companies that belong to the sector’s four categories, which are agents, real estate brokers, auditors, dealers of precious metals and gemstones, and corporate service providers, showed a high level of awareness and commitment towards registration in the two systems. However, there is still a percentage of companies that have not registered in the two systems. The extension of the grace period is intended to give an additional opportunity for these companies to quickly register, avoid violations, and protect their business and investments from money laundering risks by complying with the requirements of government control.

Safeya Al Safi, Director of the Anti-Money Laundering Department at the Ministry of Economy, said that the extension of the grace period without penalizing for any violations before April 30, 2021, allows companies in the DNFBP sector subject to the Ministry’s control to fulfill their obligations and initiate registration in the goAML and the Automatic Reporting System for Sanctions Lists. In addition, it gives them enough time to initiate the adoption of the necessary measures, according to the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Financing of Illegal Organizations Law and its implementing regulations. She confirmed that the previous deadline witnessed wide interaction from the targeted companies, as the Ministry of Economy received more than 6,000 calls and inquiries during the month of March. She noted that the Ministry has provided, through its official website, all information and instructions for registration, through the following links: Link to the registration steps in the Automatic Reporting System for Sanctions Lists:
https://www.economy.gov.ae/English/aml/pages/circulars-notices.aspx.

Link to the measures required of companies according to the executive regulations:
https://www.economy.gov.ae/English/aml/pages/default.aspx Link to the guides provided by the Ministry on the requirements for combating money laundering:
https://www.economy.gov.ae/English/aml/pages/guides.aspx.

Al Safi further explained that the Ministry of Economy is uploading all the workshops on anti-money laundering and combating terrorism financing onto its official YouTube channel to enable all DNFBP companies, stakeholders and interested parties to view their content, on the link:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChqcRa_X-2nIOSzrZ8rNZVw The Ministry of Economy called on all targeted establishments to contact it through the Ministry’s call center at 8001222 or via other official channels in case there are any inquiries related to registering in the two systems and fulfilling the required measures.

 

Source: Emirates News Agency

UAE records world’s 2nd highest hotel occupancy rate in 2020

ABU DHABI, The UAE tourism sector performed outstandingly in 2020 despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, revealed by the Ministry of Economy, noting that the sector was among the least affected and fastest to recover around the world.

The UAE recorded a 54.7 percent hotel occupancy rate in 2020 – the second highest in the world behind only China – while the global rate dropped to 37 percent under the weight of the pandemic, and hotels in the Middle East region recorded just 43 percent occupancy. This is in parallel to the significant decline in tourist activity, which fell by 74 percent around the world and 76 percent in the region.

Hospitality establishments welcomed 14.8 million guests in 2020, who spent 54.2 million nights in 1,089 different establishments that provided approximately 180,000 rooms, according to official statistics issued by the World Tourism Organisation and the Emirates Tourism Council – established by the Council of Ministers in January 2021 and chaired by Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs. This brings the average stay to 3.7 nights per guest, with returns of AED318.5 per room. Meanwhile, domestic tourism contributed AED41 billion to the national economy last year – a figure that is expected to double in the upcoming few years.

“The global tourism industry bore the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic,” noted Al Falasi. “Guided by the directives of its wise leadership, the UAE was able to quickly contain the outbreak’s impact on the local tourism sector, relying on innovation and agility in its efforts to provide incentives, launch initiatives, and create opportunities to accelerate the recovery of the tourism sector and boost its contribution to GDP.”

“Despite the tremendous challenges it brought onto the industry, the pandemic also created new opportunities for domestic tourism, with a surge in demand recorded over the past year, especially during the holidays and vacation season, and some establishments even reporting full occupancy. This reflects the high quality of the services the sector provides, which rank among the best in the world,” he explained. “Strengthening domestic tourism is essential for ensuring the tourism sector’s full recovery and driving faster economic recuperation. The UAE can benefit from its advanced infrastructure, modern facilities, and wide range of services and activities to promote itself as a tourist destination with a lot to offer visitors – be they UAE residents or travellers from abroad.”

Al Falasi asserted that the next stage will include further initiatives aiming to maintain the sector’s outstanding performance and boost chances for recovery: “The UAE Strategy for Domestic Tourism, the Unified Tourism Identity Strategy, and ‘The Most Beautiful Winter in the World’ campaign, all launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, were key to achieving these positive results locally, at a time when the global tourism sector still reels from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with tight restrictions on movement still in place around the world.”

“The tourism sector’s accomplishments over the past year are a result of the notable efforts made by all relevant parties to promote the sector at the federal and local levels,” he added. “This is in addition to the proactive measures the UAE implemented to deal with the outbreak and minimise its impact on public health. UAE authorities actively encouraged widespread testing for infections, leading the world in the number of tests performed as a percentage of the total population. The preventive measures established a sense of reassurance and helped create a safe environment to welcome tourists.”

According to global statistics on tourism, China ranked first in the world in occupancy rates at hotel establishments with a rate of 58 percent, followed by the UAE in second place with 54.7 percent, and the United States in third with 37 percent. The top three were followed by Mexico (32 percent), Turkey (30 percent), Thailand (27 percent), the United Kingdom (26 percent), Spain (23 percent), Italy (16 percent), and Germany (12 percent).

Statistics also revealed that the UAE suffered the least in terms of tourist traffic in 2020, where activity fell by just 45.2 percent – the lowest drop in the world. The UAE was followed by Mexico, where tourist traffic decreased by 52 percent, then Italy (63 percent), Germany (69 percent), Turkey (73 percent), Saudi Arabia (76 percent), the USA (77 percent), Spain (78 percent), the UK (82 percent), and Thailand (83 percent).

 

Source: Emirates News Agency

Dubai’s non-oil external trade reaches AED1.182 trillion in 2020

DUBAI, Dubai’s non-oil foreign trade strongly rebounded from the challenges posed by the global economic repercussions of COVID-19 and the suspension of business activity by countries across the world in the first half of last year to record high growth in 2020.

Boosted by its resilience to global headwinds, as well as its rapid economic recovery and revitalised growth in the second half of the year, Dubai’s foreign trade in 2020 touched AED1.182 trillion. Total trade volume in 2020 reached 100 million tonnes, driven by a 6% year-on-year volume growth in the second half of the year. Overall value of exports in 2020 grew 8% to AED167 billion while imports accounted for AED686 billion and re-exports totalled AED329 billion.

H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, said, “The exceptional growth performance of Dubai’s external trade sector reflects the emirate’s impressive resilience and its ability to recover and grow amidst international crises. Dubai has set an example for the world in dealing with both the economic and health repercussions of the pandemic. We were able to quickly renew our momentum of growth and reestablish our global leadership in various sectors.”

“This growth has been made possible by robust governance and the stimulus packages the Dubai Government launched under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The stimulus packages included a number of initiatives to support the foreign trade sector and enable it to continue playing its important role in national economic growth. The strong trade performance signals a positive start to the ‘Year of the 50th’’ and the efforts to achieve the goals of the UAE Centennial Plan 2071,” noted Sheikh Hamdan.

“The external trade sector’s distinctive growth in 2020 will boost the implementation of Dubai’s five-year plan to expand its external trade to AED2 trillion, consolidating the emirate’s position as a leading regional and global trade and investment hib. Dubai’s new international trade map will see an expansion in air and sea navigation routes, with 200 new cities set to be added to the emirate’s existing network of 400 cities, His Highness added. The Crown Prince further said Dubai will continue its efforts to generate new practical and creative solutions to tide over challenges and turn them into new opportunities.

Sultan bin Sulayem, DP World Group Chairman & CEO and Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation said, “Dubai’s external trade sector impressively overcame the impact of a global trade downturn in 2020. With the gradual opening of borders, Dubai’s trade volumes started recovering and growing quickly in the second half of 2020. In the third quarter, Dubai’s trade surged 34% compared to Q2, and in Q4, trade grew by 7% to AED326 billion compared to Q3.

“Trade volumes in the second half of 2020 expanded by 6% compared to the corresponding period in 2019. Overall, 100 million tonnes of goods were traded in 2020, which reflects the rapid recovery of this sector. This rebound is now spurring greater growth in 2021. The resumption of trade with Qatar, the start of trade engagement with Israel, the positive spin-offs from hosting EXPO 2020 and the launch of the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan will all contribute to accelerating the emirate’s growth momentum.”

Bin Sulayem added, “To develop the external trade sector and play a greater role in maintaining Dubai’s leading position in global trade, the Dubai Chamber has been restructured by creating three new chambers of commerce. The new chambers will enhance support for the trade sector by creating new solutions for the needs of investors and companies as part of a strategy to grow the emirate’s global trade in line with the vision of Dubai’s leadership for the next 50 years.”

The DP World Group Chairman & CEO and Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation said all government departments and organisations will work in tandem to achieve the goal of boosting Dubai’s external trade and helping the emirate continue its pivotal role in facilitating global trade and tourism.

“Dubai Customs has launched its five-year strategy for the period 2021-2026, which outlines nine goals and four main objectives in developing customs operations. Dubai Customs received the Agile Organization Certification from the American Business Agility Institute (BAI), thereby becoming the first agile government organisation in the world. As part of enhancing cooperation with export funding entities, Dubai Customs signed an MoU with Etihad Export Credit Insurance Company (ECI) to facilitate greater export performance in the emirate. Meanwhile, the Department is set to host the 5th WCO Global AEO Conference in cooperation with the Federal Customs Authority and the World Customs Organisation in May in Dubai.”

Dubai’s direct trade in 2020 totalled AED711 billion, while trade through free zones reached AED464 billion and customs warehouse trade weighed in at AED7 billion. Airborne trade accounted for AED559 billion. Sea trade reached AED421 billion while land trade touched AED203 billion.

China maintained its position as Dubai’s largest trading partner in 2020 with AED142 billion worth of trade. India came in second with AED89 billion, followed by the USA in third place with AED61 billion. Saudi Arabia continued to be Dubai’s largest Gulf and Arab trade partner and its fourth largest global trade partner with AED54 billion worth of trade, followed by Iraq in the fifth place with AED41 billion.

Gold topped the list of commodities in Dubai’s 2020 external trade at AED213 billion, followed by telecoms at AED153 billion. Diamonds came third with AED64 billion, followed by petroleum oils with AED57 billion and jewellery with AED47 billion.

 

Source: Emirates News Agency