E-Newsletter 2/2012, 01 March 2012 | Print |

 

AACC News & Reports

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AACC goes Facebook!



 

Since January of this year you can find the AACC on Facebook, both in English and Arabic. Our Facebook sites, in addition to our Website, provide you with the latest news, infos and pictures of the most recent AACC activities.

Visit us at our different sites:

English Site: www.facebook.com/AACC.Eng 

Arabic Site: www.facebook.com/AACC.Arab

 


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Visit of H.E. Dr. Salah Abdul RAZAQ, the Governor of Baghdad in Vienna



From 14th til 19th February 2012, the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce (AACC) had the great honour to welcome H.E. Dr. Salah Abdul RAZAQ, the Governor of Baghdad, and his delegation from Iraq in Vienna. On occasion of the high-ranking visit, the AACC and the City of Baghdad signed a Memorandum of Understanding.
On February 14th the delegation arrived from Stockholm in Vienna and was immediately brought to the Grand Hotel Vienna where it was accommodated during their visit. In the afternoon the delegation met at the hotel reception and was transferred to the AACC’s office at the Lobkowitzplatz where it was warmly welcomed by the AACC’s Secretary General Dipl.-Ing. Mouddar KHOUJA and received a presentation of the visit programme during their stay.
On Wednesday, February 15th, a meeting at the Austrian Parliament was planned where Senator Prof. Stefan SCHENNACH, member of Austria’s Federal Council, welcomed the delegation and showed them a technical presentation on renewable energy and a company presentation. After lunch, the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce led their delegation on to visit a waste management project by the City of Vienna at the incineration plant Pfaffenau in the Viennese district Simmering.

On Thursday, February 16th, the AACC prepared for the Iraqi delegation a trip to the model region Güssing (in Austria’s province of the Burgenland) which is well-known for its European Centre for Renewable Energy. H.E. Mr. Peter VADASZ, the Mayor of Güssing, welcomed the foreign guests at the City Hall. After lunch the AACC and the Baghdad delegation were guided through the Technology Centre Güssing where they got a great insight into the workings of this exemplary centre.

On Friday, February 17th, the next point up on the agenda was a meeting at the Regional Parliament of Vienna where the Iraqi delegation was welcomed by H.E. Prof. Harry KOPIETZ, president of the Regional Parliament of the State of Vienna. The lunch was hosted by the City of Vienna represented by Dipl.-Ing. Omar AL-RAWI, member of the Regional Parliament of the State of Vienna.


In the afternoon the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce and its delegation from Baghdad went to a meeting at the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs where they were welcomed by State Secretary Dr. Wolfgang WALDNER.

On Saturday, February 18th, the AACC invited the Baghdad delegation to a dinner in the Hotel Imperial Vienna in the evening.

In the course of this high-ranking visit of H.E. Dr. Salah Abdul RAZAQ, the Governor of Baghdad, and his delegation from Iraq, the AACC and the City of Baghdad signed a Memorandum of Understanding
 

 

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Agreement on the development of relations between the AACC and UNIDO


On Monday, 23 January 2012, the Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), H.E. Mr. Kandeh K. YUMKELLA, welcomed the Vice President of the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce, Commercial Advisor Mr. Nabil KUZBARI and AACC’s Secretary General, Engineer Mr. Mouddar KHOUJA, at the VIC in Vienna.
There they discussed ways and methods to develop and strengthen relations between the UN Organisations and the AACC, as well as the possibilities of cooperation in several subjects such as the fight against unemployment in the Arab world, the environmental protection and the subjects of energy and in particular renewable energy. The AACC made a presentation of its mission to build bridges of positive relations between the Arabs and Austrians. The briefing also highlighted the vast network of relationships between the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce and the General Union of Arab Chambers.
Moreover the AACC highlighted its efforts in promoting economic and trade relations between Austria and the Arab countries, as well as their contributions to upgrading the Austro-Arab relations in all fields.
During the meeting Mr. KUZBARI reviewed the model of the Qatari social enterprise “Silatech” which by developing different programs seeks to support and create the necessary expertise and set up development projects contributing to fight unemployment among the youth in the Arab world. The Qatari institution “Silatech” includes internationally renowned personalities and experts from many Arab countries in its board of directors.
Mr. KUZBARI explained that “Silatech” – founded by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Misnad – launched a global initiative in 2008 in Qatar to improve the economic and social situation of young people by creating jobs and promoting economic feasibility of several projects in progress.  “Silatech” was able to actually accomplish its goals by creating around 49.000 jobs throughout the Arab world. Mr. KUZBARI also mentioned that the participation of the private sector in the economies within the Arab world is only 67 per cent, which emphasizes the need for more private sector participation in the effort to reduce unemployment among the Arab youth.
The Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce expressed its desire to cooperate closely with UNIDO, establish joint activities and discuss the role of the private sector providing more employment opportunities. The Secretary General of the AACC, Mr. KHOUJA, pointed out to the efforts undertaken by the AACC in the field of environmental conservation and by the consultation with the Parliamentary Commission for the Mediterranean in the areas of energy, renewable energy, environmental protection and water resources. He expressed his strong belief in new prospects that will be opened up in this area through collaboration between the Chamber and UNIDO.
Director-General YUMKELLA expressed his satisfaction in developing relations between the UN organization and the Chamber and the follow-up of activities that focus on reducing unemployment and creating job opportunities for young people. The effective step taken by the joint organization with Silatech and Qatar Charity is expected to be discussed in partnership.
It was also suggested to enable effective participation of the heads of Arab Chambers in order to discuss the role of the private sector and the possibilities of providing expertise in the field of employment, methods of financing and ways to address unemployment.
In this regard Mr. YUMKELLA stressed that the Arab spring was able to change political systems, but at the same time was not able to overcome the problems which caused the revolutions, especially the high unemployment and poverty rates in their countries. YUMKELLA draw the attention to the industrial development in the Arab region and Africa. The Director-General also pointed out that there is a considerable rise in the levels of education in North Africa; on the other hand the southern countries of Africa face a decline, which requires another “spring” in those countries.
The Secretary General of the AACC Mr. KHOUJA, and the Director of Investment and Technical Services at UNIDO, Dr. Muhammad al-AMIN, were asked to follow-up the results reached during the meeting and to work together to implement the outcome recommendations.
KHOUJA expressed his appreciation and gratitude for the efforts of UNIDO, and his pleasure to fulfil the invitation he received by UNIDO to attend and participate in a seminar organized on unemployment and youth issues in the Arab world.
The AACC was highly grateful to the UNIDO staff including Dr. Mohamed AMIN, Mr. Sarwar HOBOHM and Dr. Azza MORSSY for their cooperation. 
 

AACC Vice-President KUZBARI proposed strengthening the economic relations between Tunisia and Austria



On January 16th 2012, the Vice-President of the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce Commercial Advisor Mr. Nabil KUZBARI went to Tunis for a business trip where he was welcomed by the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation H.E. Mr. Riad BELTAIB. 
During the meeting Mr. KUZBARI proposed opening the prospects for future cooperation between Tunisia and Austria, including the benefits from Austrian expertise in the areas of  e-government, technical documents and identity security, health care and construction of medical facilities, water treatment, sanitation, energy and renewable energy.
Mr. BELTAIB expressed that he very much welcomed the cooperation with Austria and recommended communicating with the AACC in this regard by a representative of Tunisian investment in Cologne, Germany. It is expected that the Minister of Investment will visit Europe including a visit to Austria too. Moreover an Austrian trade and economic delegation will probably visit Tunisia to discuss the possibilities of investment here.
The Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce is interested in strengthening the network between institutions, economic organisations and stakeholders from both Austria and Tunisia in order to deepen economic and trade relations between the two countries.
In this context, the AACC set up a forum with representatives of Austrian companies and others interested in trading with Tunisia as well as with representatives from the Tunisian side last year; there they exchanged ideas and views on the relations between the two countries and the available opportunities of investment in Tunisia after the glorious revolution.
During his visit Mr. KUZBARI also participated in a meeting of Silatech chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser AL MISSNED, where discussions were held on providing support for the new Tunisia, particularly in the field of micro-finance.
 

 

AACC President Dr. Richard SCHENZ awarded '20 Years of Kazakhstan Independence' medal


On Wednesday, 22 February 2012, The Diplomatic Academy of Vienna held a conference dedicated to the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and Austria. During the high-ranking conference Dr. Richard SCHENZ, President of the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce and Vice-President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ), was awarded the anniversary medal "20 Years of Kazakhstan Independence."

 

The Kazakh Ambassador to Austria Mr. Kairat ABDRAKHMANOV, while awarding Dr. Richard SCHENZ, emphasised his great efforts and his contribution to developing economic interaction between Austria and Kazakhstan.
Dr. Richard SCHENZ said he was proud to be awarded that medal from Kazakhstan, a country playing an important role in Central Asia.

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Following are recent news from selected Arab countries:

 ALGERIA

Promising reform - Algeria boosting capital markets

Early results from a capital markets reform programme initiated in May 2011 have been promising, and Algeria is now looking to increase the number of initial public offerings (IPOs) on the Bourse d’Alger, Algeria’s stock exchange, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.

With the sixth-largest reserves of gas in the world, the country already supplies up to 30% of Europe’s natural gas needs. Algeria’s economy also emerged relatively unscathed from the 2008 global financial downturn and the regional instability of 2011, achieving an estimated 2.5% GDP growth last year, according to the International Monetary Fund. The country has the highest GDP per capita ($4495) among its North African neighbours, World Bank statistics show.

Thus, policymakers in Algiers are mindful that with a wealth of natural resources at their disposal and growing foreign interest in the country, a more active stock exchange would likely boost economic growth, particularly as Algeria looks to unlock new sources of capital for the country’s relatively small private sector, in addition to bringing in new funds for the larger state-owned enterprises.

“We have identified areas of the industrial sector from where we plan to float public firms on the bourse as joint stock companies,” said Nouredine Smail, the president of the Bourse Supervisory Commission.

Smail was delivering the initial conclusions of a capital markets reform programme, a $5.1m scheme aimed at revitalising the bourse with help from the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

The capital markets reform panel, made up of government officials and international advisors, has established four recommendations to do this. The first option calls for IPOs of shares in some of the large state-run industrial firms on the exchange, with a percentage of the shares to be retained by the state directly or through an investment vehicle.

A second option under consideration is to foster the creation of specific strategic partners for the state, whereby the state will hold 50-60% of the shares in the new firms and between 20% and 30% of the shares will be made available to the public in an IPO.

A third recommendation of the capital markets reform panel is to set out growth projects for specific sectors and allow private firms wanting to list on the bourse to boost their capital through the exchange ahead of such plans. Finally, the panel recommends that stakes in banks and financial institutions should also be made available to foreign and public investors under the supervision of the Money & Credit Council.

The bourse’s market capitalisation remains extremely modest by international standards. The vast majority, around 98% or so, of activity is focused on the debt market, primarily corporate bonds for public enterprises. Since insurance firm Alliance Assurances listed on the bourse in November 2010, market capitalisation rose by 62% from AD7.7bn (€77.64m) to AD12.5bn (€126m) in early January 2012.

Still relatively nascent, at 11 years old, the bourse does not yet reflect the range of economic activity in the country. Alliance was the first Algerian private firm to list on the bourse, and the other four public firms on the exchange are state energy giant Sonelgaz, pharmaceutical group Saidal, real estate firm Spa Dahli and tourist company L’Hotel El Aurassi d’Alger.

Aurassi and Saidal have been the only traded stocks since 2000. The corporate bond market remains the centre of activity, mainly due to debt instruments offering higher earnings than savings accounts, as their interest rates are in the range of 5% to 6%, compared to 1.5% to 3%. (OBG)


 


  KUWAIT

 Top priority – Kuwait investing billions in health sector

Development of the health care sector remains a priority for Kuwait, with the government recently signing two agreements with foreign educational institutions that aim to improve training for the country’s medical professionals. While the goal of this type of international collaboration is to enhance the skills of local physicians who work at state-run facilities, the government is also taking steps to create private investment opportunities in the country’s health care sector, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.

In late December, Kuwait’s Ministry of Health signed a five-year agreement with Johns Hopkins Medicine International (JHI) that calls for JHI to help Kuwait improve health care delivery at four of the country’s five secondary care public hospitals.

Beginning in early 2012, JHI experts in clinical care, hospital administration and hospital management will work with health care professionals at the Ministry of Health and four local hospitals that, combined, account for more than 40% of public sector hospital beds in Kuwait. The collaboration will focus on medical issues in the fields of trauma, orthopedics, rehabilitation, diabetes, obstetrics, pediatrics and telemedicine.

The Ministry of Health is taking other steps to ensure that its physicians are well trained, including signing an agreement in December with the Faculty of Medicine at the King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia to provide emergency medical training to doctors in Kuwait. According to Dr Khalid Al Sahlawi, the assistant undersecretary for technical affairs at the Ministry of Health, the purpose of this collaboration is to qualify a number of Kuwaiti staff who can train other local medical professionals.

While these two recently signed agreements pertain to the training of staff in the public health care system, Kuwait is also planning to expand the role of the private sector in the provision of medical services, according to Waleed Al Falah, the assistant undersecretary for planning and quality at the Ministry of Health.

The government’s efforts to this end have thus far been focused on the establishment of the Kuwait Health Assurance Company (KHAC), a public-private partnership (PPP) that will be responsible for managing the health care needs of the majority of expatriates living in Kuwait. At present, all expatriates who reside in Kuwait are required to purchase health insurance from the government, and then can seek medical attention at one of the state-owned medical facilities.

According to a presentation prepared by The Advisory Group, a consulting firm currently engaged in several health care projects in Kuwait, the target population for KHAC’s services amounted to about 1.5m individuals in 2010. As envisioned by the government, KHAC will sell health insurance to expatriates, and then will provide medical services for plan enrollees at facilities owned and run by KHAC.

Facilities to be built include a network of 15 primary care centres, as well as three secondary-care hospitals, to be located in Ahmadi, Farwaniya and Jahra.

As is the case for other PPPs in Kuwait, the government is seeking a strategic investor for the project, who will hold 26% of KHAC. The Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) will own a 24% stake, while the remaining 50% of the company will be sold to Kuwaiti nationals in a public offering. The 26% share is being sold by an auction, which closed on November 29, according to KIA’s website.

The government expects that KHAC will launch by 2015. Once operational, this new entrant to the Kuwaiti heath care system will significantly expand the quantity of medical services available in the country and could well reduce the state’s cost of providing health care to its residents. (OBG)
 

Source: Global Arab Network

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 MOROCCO

Automotive sector in Morocco driving investment

The long-awaited opening of a new automotive assembly plant in February, in one of the country’s free zones, is testimony to the expansion of Morocco’s industrial base, as the country looks to develop its automotive and components sectors under the National Industrial Emergence Pact 2009-15, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.

Renault, which has had a presence in Morocco for more than 80 years, will begin operating at its new assembly plant in the Tanger Free Zone (TFZ) starting this month. The estimated €1bn unit is expected to produce 170,000 vehicles in its first year of operations and aims to reach 400,000 by 2014. The factory will start off with 2600 employees and expects this number to increase to 6000 by 2015.

An increasing number of firms in Morocco’s automotive sector are located in free zones, particularly in the TFZ, the Atlantic Free Zone and Tanger Automotive City. In addition to the country’s proximity to Europe — Morocco’s main trading partner — and its available and skilled workforce, the advantages offered by these zones have made the country increasingly attractive as an industrial base. As a result, the growing investment the activity is attracting is expected to boost the sector’s contribution to GDP, creating jobs and providing a base for low-cost production to European markets, as well as other African nations.

Indeed, Moroccan free zones welcomed several new automotive manufacturers in 2011. Among them is Spain’s Proinsur, which set up operations in the TFZ. Specialising in plastic injection and automotive parts, the company invested €2m to set up a 2500-sq–metre factory. Delphi Automotive, a vehicle components supplier operating in Morocco since 1999, has also expanded capacity at its Tangier plant, creating 1200 new jobs in 2011. France’s Inergy Automotive Systems and Japan’s Denso have invested €6m and €12m, respectively, for component systems in Tangier.

To meet the needs of these new projects, Morocco plans to train 70,000 new specialised graduates to enter the market by 2015. In September 2010, the French Development Agency granted Morocco €20m to boost vocational education in the sector, and in June an agreement was signed with the Korean International Cooperation Agency to contribute Dh105m (€9.29m) to help establish Casablanca's Institute of Advanced Training in Automotive Trades.

However, although Morocco’s manufacturing base continues to expand more than 80% of production is exported. Since 2005 vehicle exports have increased on average by 20.3% per year, reflecting the industry’s expansion. In 2010, exports totaled Dh19bn (€1.7bn).

Therefore, the import of vehicles is still required to meet domestic needs. In 2011, approximately 112,000 vehicles were sold in Morocco, with imports accounting for 99,733, a year-on-year (y-o-y) increase of 9.5%. The number of locally manufactured cars sold on the domestic market only accounted for 12,336, a y-o-y increase of 0.4%.

The number of imported cars is likely to increase in the coming years if the decision to drop all Customs duties on new vehicles from the EU is enacted. Customs duties have been gradually decreased since 2003, and the decision to completely remove them on new vehicles entering the country from the EU is expected to be enforced in 2012. Imported cars from the US will also see Customs duties reduced from 15% in 2011 to 12% in 2012. Customs on imported cars from Asia will continue to stand at 17.5%. (OBG)

Source: Global Arab Network

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  OMAN

Oman’s insurance: Primed for consolidation

Speculation is mounting that Oman’s insurance sector will witness further mergers and acquisitions if margins remain tight in the coming year. While the introduction of sharia-compliant insurance is expected to drive expansion in the industry, questions remain about both the length of time it will take for insurers to develop new products and whether take up will meet expectations, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.

At 25, the number of insurers in Oman is often viewed as high for the country’s population, which stands at around 2.7m. The chief executive officer of Dubai-based Gulf Reinsurance, Michel Gertsch, said Oman’s insurers, especially smaller businesses, were likely to find themselves under pressure to consolidate.

“In the next two years we will see the formation of larger regional companies into which probably a lot of smaller companies will be absorbed,” he said in mid-December.

The year 2011 brought a number of challenges for Omani insurers, with many companies suffering a drop in profits or posting losses. The sector was hit particularly hard by payouts made on claims for storm damage and flooding.

Weaker returns on investments last year have also prompted a renewed call from industry representatives for a reconsideration of the amount that companies are permitted to invest outside of the region.

At present, the sector’s regulatory body, the Capital Market Authority (CMA), caps the amount at 25% of a company’s portfolio. Policy writers, who have long been lobbying for changes to the regulations, have told local media the ceiling is restricting development in the sector and denying them investment opportunities in other markets.

The managing director of the Oman United Insurance Company, Nassir bin Salim al Busaidi, lent support to calls for a review of the investment regulations governing the sector, warning that 2012 could be a lean year for insurers if the CMA decides against easing restrictions.

“Insurers are facing challenges from all sides; from the rising cost of claims to investments in real estate and equities,” he told the Muscat Daily on January 21. “All these factors are putting pressure on companies’ profitability and capital base, and finally on shareholders.”

A study by the research and consultancy firm Frost and Sullivan published last month suggested that insurance companies may have to consider negotiating with the CMA if policy writers are to find ways of boosting earnings.

In the meantime, the launch of Oman’s sharia-compliant segment is widely believed to signal a new era for the country’s financial services sector and the insurance industry in particular. A report by international financial consultancy Islamic Finance Advisory & Assurance Services (IFAAS) issued in December 2011 highlighted the key role earmarked for Islamic finance in the Sultanate, saying it was “anticipated to change the country’s financial landscape over the next decade with far reaching positive effects for the overall economy”.

Initial prospects for the fledgling segment look promising, with hopes high that it will provide the insurance sector with a new means of growth. General optimism is supported by the IFAAS’ report, which puts the number of Omani consumers interested in taking up sharia-compliant finance products, such as takaful, at 85%.

Source: Global Arab Network

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 SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabia expecting $ 187 billion revenue in 2012

Driven in part by state spending on infrastructure, housing and social development projects, Saudi Arabia’s economy is set for a year of solid growth. Longer-term predictions, however, are factoring in the uncertain state of the global economy, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.

According to a report issued in mid-January by Riyadh-based Jadwa Investments, Saudi Arabia’s GDP will rise in 2012, with growth forecast to be around 3%. Though well short of the 6.8% posted in 2011, Jadwa’s GDP projection, as well as those of other analysts, still represents a solid achievement when considered in the broader financial climate, with many leading economies either in a recession or coming dangerously close to one.

At present, Saudi officials are targeting a budget surplus of $3.2bn out of the $187bn in total revenue that is expected in 2012. Jadwa, however, has forecasted a far larger budget surplus.

“We forecast a budget surplus of $24.2bn in 2012, equivalent to 4.5% of expected GDP,” the report said.

Another to take a broadly positive view of the Saudi economy and the budget is Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which has described the 2012 budget as supportive of growth, with the non-oil segment in particular seen as robust. In a research note issued in early January, Jean-Michel Saliba, an economist at the bank, said the budget was expansionary and the economy would be helped by more capital expenditure, so there will be housing appropriation and capital injections to lending institutions, helping to support banking sector loan growth.

Though the budget is aimed at further boosting social services and strengthening the non-hydrocarbons segment of the economy, oil remains the foundation on which Saudi Arabia builds its wealth. Oil exports and revenues are forecast to fall initially in 2012 as extra output to make up for shortages coming from Libya are no longer necessary. Having boosted production in 2011 to offset the shortfall in international supplies caused by the conflict in Libya, Saudi Arabia was expected to reduce output as Libyan oil returned to the market, which in turn was forecast to reduce Riyadh’s hydrocarbons revenue.

However, Riyadh has already flagged the possibility of increasing production in the event that tighter sanctions against Tehran take Iranian exports off the table. On January 16, the Kingdom’s oil minister, Ali Al Naimi, said the Kingdom could fill any gap in supplies should further sanctions be imposed on Iran. Production could be lifted from the present level of about 10m bpd to 11.8m bpd in a matter of days, while reaching full capacity of 12.5m bpd within three months, he said during an interview with CNN.

While importers may be pleased to hear Al Naimi’s assurances that his country’s excess capacity could be brought on line quickly, the increase in regional tension is a worrying development, and could push up borrowing costs and give some investors pause for thought. However, it does mean that oil prices will remain high; prices topped $100 per barrel the day following the Iranian warning. This in turn will further boost Saudi oil revenue and strengthen predictions of an expanded budget surplus.

Even if the tensions over Iran subside and many of Europe’s economies slide into recession – prompting a tailing off of oil exports – rising domestic demand and state-backed investments should keep the Saudi economy on a growth trajectory through 2012. (OBG)

Source: Global Arab Network

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  TUNISIA

Jasmine Revolution Anniversary - signs of economic recovery

(Global Arab Network) - One year after the Jasmine Revolution, Tunisia’s economy is showing signs of recovery following last year’s political upheaval. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts 3.9% GDP growth this year, and the Tunisian central bank expects expansion could climb as high as 4.5%. With support from international partners, returning foreign investment and a government commitment to fostering a business-friendly environment, prospects for economic revival look promising, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.

Tunisia’s economic climate is already benefitting greatly from a much-improved political situation in early 2012. The Ennahda Movement, a moderate Islamist party that took roughly 40% of the vote in the October elections for the Constitutional Assembly, now holds 89 of the 217 seats in the assembly. It has formed a ruling majority with the Congress for the Republic (CPR), a liberal party, and the centre-left Ettakatol party.

The main challenge for the new government will be economic, rather than political, however. The coalition has confirmed its intention to foster an open business climate in an effort to stimulate economic growth. The government has indicated it plans to improve national infrastructure to attract foreign investment and to work towards a regional common market.

Beji Caid Essebsi, the former prime minister, offered sombre remarks at a December economic conference, warning that short-term economic growth will be crucial to continuing political stability. The political upheaval of 2011 stalled many sectors and precipitated a sharp decline in foreign tourist numbers, from 7m visitors in 2010 to an estimated 4.5m last year. Tourism is one of Tunisia’s biggest sources of income, and sector revenue is expected to have plunged by roughly 50% in 2011 to €1.2bn.

As a result, Tunisia’s net foreign currency reserves decreased by 20%, or TD2.4bn (€1.23bn), from January to November 2011. External effects, such as declining demand from the EU, Tunisia’s primary trade partner, and the conflict in Libya, its main trade partner in the region, further intensified the negative economic impact.

However, the country’s outlook is improving for 2012 as Tunisia receives support from many of its trade and development partners. EU governments announced December 14 they would start trade talks with Tunisia’s new government.

For Tunisia, the talks may extend current trade agreements to new areas such as agriculture and services, and may help build regional cooperation. European Commission officials told Reuters talks will go beyond existing tariffs agreements to include regulatory issues such as public procurement and investment protection.

Tunisia is also strengthening relationships outside its main trade partners. During a recent visit to Turkey by Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem, both countries highlighted their willingness to increase economic engagement. Also in January, Tunisia and the Netherlands announced the launch of a programme to increase bilateral investment and partnerships. The programme will put in place a €250,000 fund, which may be increased to €1.5m, to support the creation of joint ventures between companies in both countries.

The government is also planning to increase spending in 2012 in an effort to reinvigorate the economy. Budget officials estimate the 2012 budget deficit will rise to 6% of GDP, up from roughly 4.5% in 2011. The 2012 budget was set at TD22.94bn (€11.8bn), a 7.5% increase on 2011. National press has reported that the current account deficit would also be kept at a particularly high 5.4% of GDP in 2012. The government hopes not to exceed a 6% budget deficit, to avoid risking its investment grade credit rating.

While public spending aimed at raising wages and subsidies should be beneficial in the short term, these must be matched by rising productivity levels to ensure growth continues. With signs of recovery from local industry and support from international partners, Tunisia should be on its way back to economic growth. (OBG)
 

Source: Global Arab Network

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The AACC is honoured to welcome its NEW MEMBERS from Februar 2012:

Excelcis Sàrl Translation & Communication

Excelcis offers its customers extensive professional experience in translating texts of all kinds, particularly in the fields of law, business and finance, technology and science and medicine. Excelcis supplies translation services to the corporate world and private sector in more than 20 languages, always guaranteeing superior quality and professional results at competitive rates.

Excelcis Sàrl Translation & Communication
A: Rue du Rhône 100, 1204 Geneva (Switzerland)
T: + 41 22 310 5876 | F: + 41 22 310 5877
E: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  | W: www.excelcis.ch  

HEI Eco Technology GmbH

HEI operates in the area of environmentally-friendly, climate-protecting and resource-saving energy technologies and develops new energy technologies and specific product applications. HEI produces its products independently or in cooperation with its project partners.

HEI Eco Technology GmbH
A: Ameisgasse 65, 1140 Vienna
T: + 43 (1) 91 21 351-0
F: + 43 (1) 91 21 351-22
E: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it | W: www.hei.at  

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Verena Falkner

Verena Falkner is authoress of numerous books on the Middle East, founder of a business consulting company in Tyrol with focus on coaching and communication training and certified project manager. She offers lectures, presentations, workshops and cooking events.

Verena Falkner
A: Murstraße 26, 6063 Rum
T: + 43 (0) 650 7053697
E: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  | W: www.verenafalkner.at  
 

Sky Danubia Travels

A: Theresien Gasse 9/1, A-1180 Vienna - Austria
T: +4319258938
E: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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كازاخستان تقلد ريتشارد شينتس وسام "20 عاما على الاستقلال"

عقدت الأكاديمية الدبلوماسية في فيينا يوم الأربعاء 22 فبراير 2012 مؤتمرا بمناسبة الذكرى العشرين لإقامة علاقات دبلوماسية بين كل من كازاخستان والنمسا. وخلال المؤتمر تم تقليد رئيس غرفة التجارة العربية النمساوية، نائب رئيس الغرفة الاقتصادية الاتحادية النمساوية، دكتور ريتشارد شينتس وسام "20 عاما من استقلال كازاخستان".
وأشار سفير كازاخستان لدى النمسا، خيرت عبدرحمانوف، خلال التكريم، إلى المساهمات الجليلة التي قدمتها الدكتور شينتس في مجال تعزيز العلاقات الاقتصادية بين النمسا وكازاخستان.
ومن جانبه، أكد الدكتور ريتشارد شينتس على اعتزازه بهذا التكريم، مؤكدا على الدور الهام الذي تؤديه كازاخستان في منطقة آسيا الوسطى.

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مذكرة تفاهم بين الغرفة ومحافظة بغداد

استقبلت غرفة التجارة العربية النمساوية وفدا عراقيا رفيع المستوى، برئاسة محافظ بغداد الدكتور صلاح عبد الرزاق، الذي حل على النمسا في زيارة دامت أربعة أيام، التقى خلالها عددا من المسؤولين النمساوية، بالإضافة إلى زيارات ميدانية لعدد من المنشآت المتخصصة في الطاقة البديلة، وإعادة تدوير النفايات. ووقع المحافظ مذكرة تفاهم بين بغداد والغرفة بغرض إيجاد صيغ للتعاون المشترك بين الجانبين العراقي والنمسا في مجال نقل التكنولوجيا واستخدامات الطاقة البديلة.

 
محافظ بغداد، الدكتور صلاح عبد الرزاق (يسارا) في مستهل زيارته للنمسا

فقد استقبل الأمين العام لغرفة التجارة العربية النمساوية المهندس مضر الخوجه، الوفد العراقي يوم الثلاثاء 14 فبراير 2012، معالي الدكتور صلاح عبد الرزاق والوفد المرافق له؛ حيث قدم الخوجه عرضا موجزا عن النمسا تاريخيا واقتصاديا، كما عرض ما تتميز به النمسا من إمكانيات في العديد من المجالات وبخاصة استخدامات الطاقة البديلة وإدارة النفايات، والحكومة الإلكترونية.
ومن جانبه عرض الدكتور صلاح عبد الرزاق التحديات التي تواجه محافظة بغداد، وبخاصة في مجال البيئة، مشيرا إلى أن بغداد بحاجة إلى خطة شاملة لمعالجة النفايات وتحلية المياه وتوليد الطاقة الكهربائية. كما أشار عبد الرزاق إلى أن المحافظة معنية بإقامة مصانع لمستلزمات البناء، وتبدي كذلك اهتماما بدعم الشركات الصغيرة والمتوسطة بغرض خلق فرص عمل جديدة.

 
الأمين العام، المهندس مضر الخوجه (يمينا) يرحب بالوفد العراقي في جلسة افتتاحية بمقر الغرفة

واستهل الوفد العراقي برنامج الزيارة بجولة داخل أروقة البرلمان النمساوي، اصطحبهم فيها السيناتور البروفيسور شتيفان شيناخ عضو البرلمان النمساوي ورئيس لجنة اتحاد البرلمانيين من أجل المتوسط للطاقة والبيئة والمياه. كما قدم البروفيسور شيناخ عرضا لبعض المشاريع التي يتم تنفيذها من خلال اتحاد دول البحر المتوسط. وكذلك عرضت شركة إنتجرال، المتخصصة في إقامة مصانع تدوير النفايات وتحويلها إلى طاقة، تقنية رائدة في مجال إنارة الشوارع باستخدام الطاقة الشمسية دون استخدام ألواح الطاقة.

(يمينا) الخوجه وعبد الرزاق إلى جوار البروفيسور شتاينباخ في زيارة للبرلمان النمساوي. 
(يسارا) عضوا الوفد العراقي: الشيخ كامل الغريري وقاهر الموسوي 

وعقب الزيارة توجه الوفد إلى منطقة بفافناو بالعاصمة النمساوية فيينا، وهي أحد أكبر مواقع تجميع وتدوير النفايات فيينا؛ حيث استمع الوفد إلى شرح مفصل لكيفية تجميع وفصل وتدوير النفايات، بما يحقق منها أعلى درجة إفادة ممكنة، وفي الوقت ذاته تقليل أعباء التلوث البيئي، وإمداد المنازل في العاصمة النمساوية بالكهرباء والتدفئة.

عبد الرزاق يستمع إلى شرح من الخوجه أثناء زيارة منطقة بفافناو لتدوير النفايات

وفي الإطار ذاته، جاءت زيارة الوفد إلى مدينة جوسينج التابعة لولاية بورجنلاند، وهي المدينة النموذجية أوروبيا في مجال استخدامات الطاقة البديلة؛ حيث قدم السيد بيتر فاداش عمدة المدينة عرضا تفصيليا لتقنيات الطاقة البديلة واستخداماتها، واصطحب الوفد في زيارة إلى مركز جوسينج التقني للإطلاع عمليا على خطوات هذه التقنية الهامة.

الوفد العراقي بصحبة عمدة جوسينج، بيتر فاداش (وسط) في زيارة للمدينة النموذجية

ومن جهة أخرى، استقبل الدكتور هاري كوبيتس، رئيس البرلمان المحلي لمدينة فيينا، الوفد العراقي؛ حيث عرض إمكانية تعزيز التعاون بين محافظتي فيينا وبغداد في شتى المجالات، وكذلك تبادل الخبرات بين الجانبين بما يدعم التطوير في المدينتين.
وأقام المهندس عمر الراوي، العضو في برلمان فيينا، مأدبة غداء للسادة أعضاء الوفد باسم محافظة فيينا.

الدكتور هاري كوبيتس يرحب بالدكتور عبد الرزاق خلال زيارته لمقر البرلمان المحلي لمدينة فيينا

واستقبل وزير الدولة للشؤون الخارجية، السيد فولفجانج فالدنر، الوفد العراقي بمقر وزارة الخارجية النمساوية؛ حيث تم استعراض سبل التعاون على المستوى الاتحادي، وإمكانية دعم مسيرة الديمقراطية في العراق. واقترحت غرفة التجارة العربية النمساوية تقديم النمسا الدعم للقروض الميسرة للعراق بما يخدم عملية تمويل المشاريع المشتركة بين الجانبين، وكذلك بحث إمكانية التعاون في مجال الحكومة الإلكترونية؛ حيث تحتل النمسا المرتبة الأولى داخل الاتحاد الأوروبي في هذا المجال.
ومن جانبه أكد الدكتور صلاح عبد الرزاق على أن الأوضاع الأمنية في العاصمة العراقية بغداد آخذة في التحسن، وهو ما يصب في صالح تشجيع المستثمرين الأجانب والمحليين على دخول السوق العراقية.

 
 
وزير الدولة النمساوي للشؤون الخارجية فولفجانج فالدنر يرحب بالوفد العراقي وممثلي الغرفة

وفي جلسة احتفالية، وبحضور الدكتور ريتشارد شينتس رئيس الغرفة، والمستشار نبيل الكزبري، الرئيس العربي للغرفة، وممثلين عن مجلس الشيوخ النمساوي والبرلمان المحلي لمحافظة فيينا، ورئيس قسم الشرق الأوسط وأفريقيا في وزارة الخارجية النمساوية، الدكتور فريدريش شتيفت، وسعادة السفير العراقي لدى النمسا الدكتور سرود نجيب، تم توقيع مذكرة تفاهم بين محافظة بغداد وغرفة التجارة العربية النمساوية تهدف إلى إيجاد صيغ للتعاون المشترك بين الجانبين العراقي والنمسا في مجال نقل التكنولوجيا واستخدامات الطاقة البديلة، وذلك من خلال تشكيل مجموعة عمل استشارية اقتصادية تتكون من المحافظة والغرفة.



الدكتور ريتشارد شينتس والمستشار نبيل الكزبري يوقعان مذكرة التفاهم مع الدكتور صلاح عبد الرزاق 

اتفاق على توطيد العلاقات بين الغرفة ويونيدو

مدير يونيدو كندي يومكيلا يتوسط المستشار نبيل الكزبري (يمينا) والمهندس مضر الخوجه


استقبل مدير منظمة الأمم المتحدة للتنمية الصناعية (يونيدو)، كندي يومكيللا بمقر المنظمة في فيينا يوم الاثنين 23 يناير 2011، الرئيس العربي لغرفة التجارة العربية النمساوية، المستشار نبيل الكزبري، وأمينها العام، المهندس مضر الخوجه؛ حيث تمت مناقشة سبل تعزيز وتوطيد العلاقات بين المنظمة الأممية والغرفة. كما تم التباحث بشأن إمكانية التعاون في مجال مكافحة البطالة في الوطن العربي، وفي مجال المحافظة على البيئة، ومجالات الطاقة والطاقة المتجددة.
وقدمت الغرفة عرضا تعريفيا بأنشطتها ورسالتها الرامية إلى بناء جسور من العلاقات الإيجابية بين الجانبين العربي والنمساوي. وكذلك لمحة عن شبكة العلاقات الواسعة التي تتميز بها الغرفة، والتي تربطها بالاتحاد العام للغرف العربية والغرف العربية والعربية المشتركة، بالإضافة إلى المؤسسات الرسمية والحكومية والخاصة في العديد من دول العالم. وتم إبراز الدور الذي تؤديه غرفة التجارة العربية النمساوية في مجال تعزيز العلاقات الاقتصادية والتجارية بين النمسا والدول العربية، وكذلك إسهاماتها في الارتقاء بمستوى العلاقات العربية النمساوية في كافة المجالات.
واستعرض الكزبري خلال اللقاء نموذج مؤسسة صلتك القطرية، التي تسعى من خلال برامجها الإنمائية إلى دعم وتهيئة الخبرات اللازمة لإقامة مشاريع تنموية تسهم في مكافحة البطالة بين فئات الشباب في الوطن العربي، وكذلك ما تقوم به المؤسسة، التي تضم في مجلس إدارتها شخصيات دولية وعربية بارزة، من جهود في مجال نقل الخبرات إلى المنطقة العربية، وبخاصة في مجال المشروعات الصغيرة.
وأوضح الكزبري أن "صلتك"، وهي مبادرة عالمية أطلقتها في عام 2008 من قطر، الشيخة موزا بنت ناصر المسند، بهدف تحسين الوضع الاقتصادي والاجتماعي للشباب من خلال تهيئة فرص للعمل وتشجيع المشاريع ذات الجدوى الاقتصادية المتطورة والمتنامية، قد تمكنت بالفعل من خلق 49 ألف فرصة عمل في الدول العربية. ونوّه الكزبري بأن مشاركة القطاع الخاص في الاقتصاد داخل الوطن العربي تبلغ 67%، وهو ما يؤكد على ضرورة مشاركة القطاع الخاص في الجهود المبذولة من أجل تقليص نسبة البطالة بين الشباب العربي.
وأبدت غرفة التجارة العربية النمساوية رغبة بالتعاون مع منظمة التنمية الصناعية (يونيدو)، لإقامة فعالية مشتركة تخصص لمناقشة الدور المنوط به القطاع الخاص لتوفير فرص العمل.
ومن جانبه أشار الخوجه إلى الجهود التي تقوم بها الغرفة في مجال المحافظة على البيئة، والتشاور القائم مع اللجنة البرلمانية من أجل المتوسط في مجالات الطاقة والطاقة المتجددة وحماية البيئة والمياه، معربا عن يقينه بالآفاق الجديدة التي من شأنها أن تنفتح في هذا المجال من خلال التعاون بين الغرفة ويونيدو.
وأبدى كندي يومكيللا ترحيبا بتوطيد العلاقات بين المنظمة الأممية والغرفة، ومتابعة الفعاليات التي تركز على تقليص معدلات البطالة وتوفير فرص عمل للشباب. ومن المرتقب أن يتم تباحث تنظيم فعالية مشتركة لهذا الغرض من خلال شراكة مع مؤسسة صلتك وقطر الخيرية.
كما تم اقتراح إقامة فعالية بمشاركة رؤساء الغرف العربية، لمناقشة دور القطاع الخاص وإمكانية تقديم الخبرات في مجال توفير فرص العمل وطرق تمويلها، وسبل مواجهة البطالة.
وفي هذا الصدد، أكد يومكيللا على أن الربيع العربي تمكن من تغيير الأنظمة السياسية، ولكن في المقابل لم يتم التغلب على المشاكل التي بسببها قامت الثورات، وعلى رأسها البطالة وارتفاع معدلات الفقر. وأشار يومكيللا إلى اهتمام منظمة التنمية الصناعية بالتطوير في المنطقة العربية وأفريقيا، لافتا إلى أن هناك ارتفاعا في مستويات التعليم في منطقة شمال أفريقيا، يواجهه انخفاضا في الجنوب، وهو ما يتطلب ربيعا آخر في هذه المناطق.
وقد تم تكليف أمين عام الغرفة، المهندس مضر الخوجه، ومدير قطاع الاستثمار والخدمات التقنية في يونيدو، الدكتور محمد الأمين، بمتابعة النتائج التي تم التوصل إليها خلال اللقاء، والعمل على تنفيذ ما تمخض عنه من توصيات.
وأعرب الخوجه عن تقديره لما تقوم به يونيدو من جهود، موجها الشكر للدعوة التي تلقاها للمشاركة في ندوة نظمتها حول البطالة وقضايا الشباب في العالم العربي. كما وجهت الغرفة الشكر لطاقم العمل المساعد لمدير منظمة يونيدو، والمتمثل في كل من الدكتور محمد أمين، والسيد سروار هوبوم، والسيدة عزة مرسي.

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الكزبري يقترح تعزيز العلاقات الاقتصادية بين تونس والنمسا


رئيسة مؤسسة صلتك الشيخة موزة بنت ناصر المسند مع لفيف من أعضاء مجلس إدارة المؤسسة،. المستشار الكزبري أقصى اليسار
 
توجه الرئيس العربي لغرفة التجارة العربية النمساوية، المستشار نبيل الكزبري يوم الاثنين 16 يناير 2012 إلى تونس العاصمة في زيارة عمل، استقبله خلالها السيد رياض بالطيب، وزير الاستثمار والتعاون الدولي. وقدم الكزبري خلال اللقاء مقترحات بفتح آفاق للتعاون المستقبلي بين كل من تونس والنمسا، ومن بينها الاستفادة من الخبرات النمساوية في مجالات الحكومة الإلكترونية، وتقنية الوثائق والهويات الآمنة، ومجال الرعاية الصحية وبناء المنشآت الطبية، ومعالجة المياه والصرف الصحي، ومجال الطاقة والطاقة المتجددة.
وبدوره أبدى الوزير بالطيب ترحيبا بالتعاون مع دولة النمسا، ووجه بالتواصل مع الغرفة بهذا الشأن، عن طريق ممثل هيئة الاستثمار التونسية في مدينة كولونيا بألمانيا. ومن المرتقب أن يقوم وزير الاستثمار بزيارة إلى أوروبا، تتخللها زيارة إلى النمسا. كما يُتوقع أن تتوجه وفود تجارية واقتصادية نمساوية إلى تونس للتباحث بشأن إمكانيات الاستثمار هناك.
وتحرص غرفة التجارة العربية النمساوية على التشبيك بين المؤسسات والهيئات الاقتصادية والمعنيين من الجانبين النمساوي والتونسي من أجل توطيد العلاقات الاقتصادية والتجارية بين النمسا وتونس. وفي هذا الإطار أقامت الغرفة ملتقى في العام الماضي دعت إليه ممثلين عن شركات نمساوية ومعنيون بالتبادل التجاري مع تونس، وكذلك ممثلين عن الجانب التونسي؛ حيث تم تبادل الأفكار والآراء بشأن العلاقات بين البلدين، والمتاح من آفاق للاستثمار في كل تونس بعد ثورتها الشعبية المجيدة.

 
 
 
 
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