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WEATHERING THE STORM – Syrians are quickly realising that the impact of the global financial crisis will be larger than first thought. In an age of globalisation, no country is an island

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 13, 2008

Issue: December 2008

by Brooke Anderson

PUBLISHED BY ‘SYRIA TODAY’

Despite government assurances that their country will weather the storm engulfing markets around the world, Syrians are quickly realising that in the 21st century, no country is immune from a global economic meltdown.

“No country can say it’s unaffected,” Samira al-Masalmeh, managing editor of local affairs at the independent Syrian daily newspaper Al-Watan and the economic weekly Al-Iqtissadiya, said. “It’s true, we don’t have direct economic relations with the United States, but the crisis is affecting Europe. We work with Europe and Asia, so there is an indirect effect on Syria.”

Syria will, however, weather the storm better than most countries, Masalmeh said. “For the most part, 70 percent of investment in Syria is from inside the country,” she said. “Syria has a strong and diversified internal economy that doesn’t depend on oil. We don’t have a stock market.”

The global financial crisis, which originated in the US banking system, hits Syria at a time when the country is opening up its economy after more than 40 years of socialist rule. Many in Syria now believe the country needs to quickly learn the lessons emerging from more developed economies now battling recession. “I hope Syria will learn a lesson from America and it will put into place better laws protecting investment,” Masalmeh said.

Far from the epicentre

To date, the Syrian government has taken a cautious view of the crisis. “The Syrian economy is stable and solid and the Syrian pound is strong and protected,” Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Abdullah al-Dardari said in October. “Syria has an independent banking system. In addition, the Syrian pound has a higher interest rate than other currencies.”

Dardari also said deposits in Syrian banks have increased since the beginning of the crisis because of the stability of the local banking sector. “The government is working day and night for the stability of the economy and to serve the nation and the citizen,” he said, adding there is “no reason at all to be scared or worried”.

Likewise, Syrian Minister of Finance Muhammad al-Hussein has emphasised the limited impact the global financial crisis will have on Syria. “The worldwide financial crisis could have an effect on Syria, but the government- is working with President Bashar al-Assad to make sure the effect is limited,” Hussein told the state daily newspaper Al-Thawra. He said Syria was “far away from the epicentre of the earthquake”.

Indirect impact

One government official striking a different note is Duraid Dargham, head of the government-run Commercial Bank of Syria, the country’s largest bank. In a full-page article published in the Tishreen newspaper in early October, Dargham said the danger posed to Syria by the global financial crisis was real and significant. “The economic crisis will have a big effect on Syria,” he wrote.

Dargham said Syria’s economy would take two main hits. The first will come in a decline in both the price and global demand for oil. Since the crisis erupted, the price of oil has fallen from a record SYP 6,510 (USD 140) per barrel to around SYP 2,557 (USD 55) a barrel and the slide is expected to continue. It’s a drop which could now make growth estimates for 2009 optimistic and will further widen the country’s budget deficit, a fact Hussein pointed out at a recent banking conference.

The second blow will come from remittances from Syrians living abroad who now number a massive 18m; Syria’s internal population is little more than 19m. On average, Syrian expatriates, many of whom earn high wages in the Gulf, inject SYP 37.2bn (USD 800m) annually in remittances into the Syrian economy. With many parts of the world entering recession and unemployment rising, this stream of foreign funds is expected to slow.

Jihad Yazigi, editor of the English-language economic newsletter The Syria Report, said Syria’s links to the Gulf markets make it vulnerable to the ongoing global economic turmoil. “A lot of money comes [to Syria] from the Gulf,” he said. “Some Syrians could be made redundant in the Gulf so we could see a slower pace of remittances and that could lead to more unemployment here.”

Yazigi also points to the possibility of foreign direct investment flows slowing over the next year. Rather than the dramatic blows being landed on the world’s leading economies like the US and Japan, Yazigi said the impact on Syria would come incrementally. “We haven’t seen anything yet, because the impact is indirect,” he said. “It won’t be as dramatic as the price of stocks. It will be an interesting sign if we see the delay of one to two big Gulf investments in Syria. Investors have to prioritise when they want to invest and Syria is not a priority for them. We haven’t felt it yet, but we will. It won’t be a big impact, but there will be an impact.”

Masalmeh points to tourism, an increasingly important money spinner in Syria, as another area likely to be negatively impacted as people around the world tighten their spending habits and cancel overseas holiday plans. “The crisis will affect tourism because there’ll be less money to spend,” she said. “If there’s no money, there’s no tourism.”

Feeling the squeeze

One Syrian company is already seeing the impact of the global financial crisis firsthand. At Muhanna for Sweets, a Damascus-based family sweets business founded in 1935, chief executive officer Mahmoud Muhanna said the global financial crisis could not come at a worse time. The company is already battling the impact of a cut in fuel subsidies which has seen the price of raw materials rise. As a result, the company has had to increase the prices of its goods – 30 to 40 percent for some sweets and 100 percent for others – at a time when foreign buyers in America and Europe are looking to save money. “All of the prices of raw materials – sugar, fat, and pistachios – have increased,” Muhanna said.

Three years ago, exports made up 40 percent of all sales at Muhanna for Sweets. Now they account for just 25 percent of business. Twenty-five percent of total exports go to the US, 5 to 10 percent go to the Gulf, while the rest go to Europe.

Muhanna does not expect any growth in his exports to US and European markets in the short term. As such the Gulf and local market will become all the more important. He said his company has been helped by the steady flow of tourists in the past several years, business travellers from the Gulf and the opening of new hotels such as the Four Seasons. But it’s a customer base that might not be so reliable in the coming months, he admits.

To counter a decline in exports, Muhanna is already thinking of a plan B: creating a line of less expensive sweets. Still, he doesn’t appear to be too worried about the financial turmoil creating a crisis in sweets consumption. “No matter what happens, people always buy Arab sweets,” he said.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘SYRIA TODAY’

Posted in ASIA, BANKING SYSTEMS, CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, ENERGY, ENERGY INDUSTRIES, EUROPE, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISLAMIC BANKS, JAPAN, PETROL, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, STOCK MARKETS, THE ARABIAN PENINSULA, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, TOURISM INDUSTRIES, USA | Leave a Comment »

OIBM, STANDARD BANK INCLUDED IN US CREDIT FUND (Malawi)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 13, 2008

12 December 2008 – 12:39:03

by Suzgo Khunga

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY TIMES’ (Malawi)

Opportunity International Bank of Malawi (OIBM) and Standard Bank signed agreements with the US embassy which allow the two financial institutions to participate in the Development Credit Authority (DCA) programme.

The agreements would enable United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) to enlarge its DCA programme and allow the two banks to lend up to US$13 million (K1.8 billion) to Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) in the agriculture and agriculturally linked sectors of the economy until 2014.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, US ambassador to Malawi Peter Bodde congratulated the two banks for targeting SME’s which he said are a critical sector for Malawi’s economic development.

“We all know the human impact these programmes have and how they can make a big difference in improving people’s lives,” Bodde said.

Under the DCA facility, the two banks would increase their SME client portfolio, especially in agricultural sector businesses located in rural areas.

Standard Bank and OIBM would work to provide loans to credit worthy farmers and small agri-businesses that have difficulties meeting normal bank loan conditions.

While commercial banks have often given preference to established urban businesses, the DCA facility is meant to increase lending to promising SME’s and lower their collateral requirements.

Deputy Chairman of OIBM Board of Directors Rodwell Mbale said the collaboration would stimulate productivity of smallholder farmers and allow them to invest in agro-processing industries.

Ministry of Finance Principal Budget Officer Bettie Ngoma who witnessed the signing of the agreements, noted that the initiative was a great way to stimulate microfinance lending by banks.

The US government’s DCA programme is already operational in 23 countries assisting thousands of enterprises to access required finance to achieve and maximise growth.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY TIMES’ (Malawi)

Posted in AGRICULTURE, BANKING SYSTEMS, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOOD PRODUCTION (human), FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MALAWI, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, USA | Leave a Comment »

FOOD SAFETY ISSUES HINDER RICE EXPORTS – There are several problems facing the export of rice, one of the cash crops that local peasants prefer cultivating compared to cotton and wheat. Recently China has imposed a ban on imports of Egyptian rice

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 13, 2008

December 10, 2008

by Amina Abdul Salam

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE EGYPTIAN GAZETTE’

The reasons behind the ban are related to the use of herbicides, in addition to safety procedures that should be taken in the last stage of the harvest, but which were not made, according to Chinese authorities.

This has prompted Egyptian Minister of Agriculture Amin Abaza to ask the Central Administration of the Agriculture Quarantine to invite a formal Chinese delegation to discuss this issue with Chinese agencies.

A study, conducted by Egyptian agronomists Ali Abdul Rahman and Inas Saleh, has found that although international trade began to expand rapidly in the 1970s in the developed countries, developing countries have recently come to dominate a large part of the agricultural trade. Although fast growing, the international exchange trade has started to slow owing to fierce competition over agricultural production, according to the study. The slowdown is also related to an increase in restrictions representing in health conditions imposed by some countries, which aim at protecting their agricultural produce. Therefore, the health conditions have become legal obstacles, similar to the customs obstacles, many of which were unjustifiably imposed on global trade, the study noted. The study also showed that the previous restrictions were drawn up by some countries, not for the purpose of protecting their produce but in response to political activities practised by those who benefit from these curbs.

Therefore, recognition of the previous conditions led to a resistance of applying health specifications, which were one of the main topics of agenda of the trade negotiations, according to the same study. Otherwise, the exporting country has a right to object to health procedures drawn up by the importer in case the first part asserted the previous procedures had no scientific justification. The complainant should settle the issue with the other country. Rice accounts for around 40 per cent of Egypt’s farm exports.In a report on development and agricultural exports, leading Egyptian expert Abdul Salam Gomaa stressed the importance of paying more attention to organic agricultural products that depend on biological fertilizers so as to cope with market demands.

The report called for a gradual expansion of using organic fertilizers and the necessity of developing programmes of agrarian guidance and linking it with research as well as beginning transforming technology to old and new agricultural lands.Concerning new trends in using undated organic technology in the agricultural field, professor Magda Sabour at the Agricultural Research Centre believes that organic cultivation aims at preserving the environmental and biological safety of living creatures.

She notes that organic agriculture depending on biological methods can combat pests that destroy plants, in addition to producing healthy and safe food. On cereal storage, such as rice, a professor of entomology at the same centre in Giza, Shadia Abdul Aziz says that the peasant should protect his crop, following the harvest, not only to reduce waste, and it is his legal responsibility as well. As for destroying insects in cereals, she explains that the insects make the crop unfit for human consumption. “Therefore strict safety and protection measures should be followed at storehouses, taking into consideration the necessity of preventive steps against the occurrence of infection.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE EGYPTIAN GAZETTE’

Posted in AGRICULTURE, CHINA, COMMERCIAL PROTECTIONISM, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECOLOGICAL AGRICULTURE, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, EGYPT, ENVIRONMENT, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOOD PRODUCTION (human), FOREIGN POLICIES, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, RICE, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

FEARS OF FASCISM AS ISRAELI EXTREMISTS PREPARE TO TAKE ELECTIONS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 13, 2008

December 10, 2008

by Mel Frykberg – Middle East Times

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE MIDDLE EAST TIMES’ (Washington, DC – USA)

JERUSALEM – Israel’s upcoming general elections early next year could see some of the country’s most BENJAMIN NETANYAHUextreme right-wing elements, accused of being racist by some, winning the elections.

Right-wing poster boy Benjamin Netanyahu, a former Israeli prime minister, and chairman of the right-wing party Likud, is battling even more extreme elements in his own party in a bid to become Israel’s next prime minister.

He will face off against Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the chairman of the more centrist and ruling party Kadima, to lead the country. Current opinion polls indicate Netanyahu to be in the lead.

Likud held its primaries on Monday to prepare a list of candidates for the Knesset (Israeli parliament) with those from the far right making a strong showing.

Netanyahu had hoped that the more moderate elements he had brought into the party would help the party maintain a more moderate image. But during the primary hardliners captured and dominated the first 20 spots.

Chief extremist to make huge political gains and threaten Netanyahu’s chairmanship was Moshe Feiglin, a fan of the early fascist and Zionist pioneer, Zeev Jabotinsky, who hailed from Russia.

His strong showing prompted incumbent premier Ehud Olmert to comment that Likud had turned from a party of peace to an extreme right faction.

“The Likud, which was once a party of peace, has turned into an extreme rightist party, which will lead the state of Israel into a corner of isolation and which will bring us back to grave times,” said DOLFIE HITLER ... RAGING MADOlmert.

Livni also had little sympathy for Netanyahu’s plight. “The list is not my problem, it’s Bibi’s [a nickname for Netanyahu] problem. It’s a weight around his legs, not mine.”

Even Kadima member Tzahi Hanegbi, a former right-wing extremist himself and son of Geula Cohen, one of Likud’s founders and a strong supporter of Israel’s controversial settler movement, lamented the party’s swing to the right.

Hanegbi was against the evacuation of Gaza’s settlements and charged years ago with attacking Israeli-Arab students with chains during an altercation at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.

“Netanyahu’s dream team became his nightmare. The stars are out and the rebels are in. The Likud rebels are rebels no longer, they are the rulers,” said Hanegbi.

The controversy surrounding Feiglin, who won 20th position on the Kadima list and stands a good chance of being elected to the Knesset, is based on some of his more outrageous statements and his extreme ideology.

During an interview in 1995 with the Israeli daily Haaretz Feiglin shared his thoughts on Hitler and his policies.

“Hitler was an unparalleled military genius. Nazism promoted Germany from a low to a fantastic physical and ideological status.

“The ragged, trashy youth body turned into a neat and orderly part of society and Germany received an exemplary regime, a proper justice system and public order.

“Hitler savored good music. He would paint. This was no bunch of thugs. They merely used thugs and homosexuals,” said Feiglin.

Feiglin also gave his candid opinion on the Palestinians, whom he said didn’t really exist.

“There is no Palestinian nation. There is only an Arab-speaking public which has suddenly identified itself as a people, a negative of the Zionist movement, parasites.

“The fact that they hadn’t done so earlier only serves to prove how inferior they are. The Africans have no nations either. Only Zulus, Tutsis,” he MOSHE FEIGLINadded.

Acerbic analyst, political commentator and former chairman of the left-wing peace party Meretz, Yossi Sarid, lashed out at Feiglin in a stinging commentary in Haaretz.

“The time has come to break free from the shackles of politically correct speech and call these people – Feiglin and his cronies – by their explicit name.

“They are not ‘radicals’ but fascists by any acceptable definition. And had they not been born – through no fault of their own – to Jewish mothers, they would have been damn anti-Semites to boot,” asserted Sarid.

Should Feiglin eventually take over Likud and should Likud win the forthcoming general elections it would be stating the obvious to say that peace talks with the Palestinians and the domino effect of stability in the region, don’t stand a fighting chance.

And while Feiglin might be Netanyahu’s political nemesis and nightmare, he could well turn out to be the entire region’s nightmare to boot.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE MIDDLE EAST TIMES’ (Washington, DC – USA)

Posted in DEFENCE TREATIES, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HATE MONGERING AND BIGOTRY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA | Leave a Comment »

LET’S PACK AND HAVE DINNER IN DUBAI – Suddenly jobless? Dubai hotel offers a free meal

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 13, 2008

December 12, 2008

by Adam Schreck

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Egypt)

DUBAI: Dubai isn’t known for soup lines. But at least one hotel in the glitzy tourist spot is offering visitors left jobless by the economic slump a free meal anyway.

All unemployed dinner-seekers have to do is show up with their layoff letter in hand. And yes, the offer applies to out-of-towners willing to make the trip to the Gulf Arab sheikdom.

“A lot of people are finding themselves in a very difficult situation right now,” said Mark Lee, general manager of the Arabian Park Hotel, which is offering the meals. “Being made redundant at this time of year is no fun at all, and we’re trying to give a little bit of festive cheer back.”

The offer comes as Dubai, a fast-growing but debt-heavy city of new skyscrapers, grapples with its first mass layoffs in years.

Several property developers — the most visible employers in town — have laid off hundreds of employees in recent weeks.

State-owned Nakheel, the builder of palm-shaped islands off the coast, recently said it was shedding 500 jobs, or 15 percent of its work force. Others say they’re re-examining staffing levels and aren’t ruling out job cuts.

On Thursday, Shuaa Capital, a publicly traded investment company based in Dubai, said it had begun laying off 21 employees, or 9 percent of its Dubai-based staff.

The cutbacks are sowing fear among the tens of thousands of foreign workers who have moved to the city to take advantage of its largely tax-free construction, financial and tourism boom.

Many of the better off have bought property whose value is now falling, and most expatriates rely on continued employment to ensure their residency permits remain valid. Among the most vulnerable are the relatively low-paid unskilled laborers from South Asia who make up most of the city-state’s population.

Arabian Park’s free-meal offer isn’t entirely altruistic. In addition to helping others, the hotel hopes to entice more guests, Lee said.

Dubai’s tourism sector, a key piece of the city’s ambitious growth plans, is under increasing pressure from a strengthening dollar — which makes travel from Europe more expensive — and an economic slump that is convincing consumers to avoid exotic holiday trips.

Alex Kyriakidis, who heads the global tourism, hospitality and leisure division at professional services firm Deloitte & Touche LLP, recently warned Dubai business leaders to brace for slower tourist traffic in the months ahead.

“No one is immune from the global economic crisis,” he said.

That slowdown already appears to be affecting Arabian Park, a three-star hotel near the airport. While overall sales have increased since the hotel’s fiscal year began in June, business was down 6 percent in November and is lower so far again this month, Lee said.

“There’s no point avoiding the fact that it’s a lot more difficult now than it was before,” he added.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Egypt)

Posted in BANKRUPTCIES - USA, DUBAI, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INTERNATIONAL, RECESSION, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, USA | Leave a Comment »

CONFESSIONS OF A (M)AD MAN: THE COSMETIC DIFFERENCE THAT MAKES YOU STAND OUT

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 13, 2008

December 12, 2008

by Mohammed Nassar – (*)

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Egypt)

Professional acceptance is a curious mix of the things you can do and the things-you-look-like-you-can do. A marriage of style and substance, if you like.

Talent is good, a strong work ethic to go with it is even better, but looking and sounding the part is both a shortcut to success and a ticket to wider recognition beyond your chosen field.

These cosmetic differences are important not because the world is a shallow place (it is) but for a far simpler reason: people don’t know when other people are right.

Bill Bryson has an outstanding book called “A Short History of Nearly Everything,” which is a very readable summary of every branch of science around. What’s striking about it is that the amount of things that science doesn’t actually know dramatically dwarfs the things that we do (and Bryson freely admits this). Even the things that we do know, we’re far from certain about, we simply employ best-case estimates by experts whose sole qualification is that they’re smarter than us. A more apt name would have been “A Short History of Hardly Anything.”

Anyone who’s followed the recent stock market meltdown wouldn’t disagree that the reason everything went to hell in a hand basket, is pithily summed up thus: the smartest guys in the room turned out not to know nearly as much as we (or they) thought they did. They invented financial products that didn’t make sense, aided by a government that didn’t know any better and sold to a public that didn’t know anything. Disaster.

Even fields like sport, where professional athletes progress through the junior ranks, their every move recorded, dissected and scrutinized by a platoon of so-called experts, the success rate of predicting the ones that will progress to become even passable professionals is pitiful. Just a little better than pulling names out of a hat.

In the absence of knowing the right thing to do, people make decisions of employment based on shallow criteria like looks, personality and sociability, even if they don’t relate to the job for which you’re being interviewed. Quantity is another false indicator: the more stuff you’ve done (or claim you’ve done), the more likely you are to get hired. It’s a long-standing feature of shallow-thinking to confuse activity with achievement.

So aside from talent in your chosen field, and the discipline and hard work to make it bear fruit, what are the other skills that you might need, that you aren’t taught in school? Lucky for you, I’ve compiled a subjective list based on my own experiences:

– Communication. You need to be able to speak to what you do, both in detail and from a summary perspective. And you need to know when it’s appropriate to do which (generally, when you’re talking to your boss, a summary approach works best and when you’re talking to a subordinate, go with the details). You also need to be diligent about sharing information, because nothing annoys people more than not being told things they need to know.

– Look good. Tall people get more raises and good-looking people get promoted quicker. So what’s an ugly, Quasimodo-like figure such as yourself to do? Dress the part. Think of clothes and grooming as the canvas against which you’re painting the masterpiece of your professional contribution. It doesn’t have to be expensive and it doesn’t have to be attention-whoring; all it needs to be is simple, elegant and affirming that you belong where you are.

– Understand office politics. I don’t recommend you become adept at politics, because I hate political people. You know, the ones who decide to do things only if they’re good for them, not good for the work. But I do think you need to understand how politics work, and that every workplace has them: from government offices in Helwan to NASA headquarters in Houston; politics are part of human nature.

– Here’s a crash course: When it comes to superiors, figure out the kind of power they wield. If you’re going to impress anyone, it needs to be them. And if you’re going to screw up, it better not be around them. With peers, know the workers from the slackers, the doers from the talkers, the trustworthy ones from the backstabbers. And always be friendly, but never friends. With subordinates, always be nice because they won’t be subordinates forever. But don’t be too nice, because they’re still people who want your job. And don’t withhold your knowledge from them; if they’re any good, they’ll find another way to learn and then you’ll have made an enemy for life.

– Take risks. You see, risk-aversity and conservatism in thought, speech and action is a sure recipe for mediocrity. You can’t achieve anything without risk (after all, nothing ventured, nothing gained) but some people are adept at not taking any. Their success is defined by their propensity to not fail. They may not get fired, but they’re also the same people who work in the same place for 27 years without getting ahead.

– Perception is reality. It may not be fair, it may not be right, it’s probably not even accurate and yet that’s how it is. The way you’re perceived is the way you’ll be treated and according to which, you’ll receive your reward or punishment. So always be aware that there are two of you: the public you and the personal you, and it’s only the former that anyone else cares about.

– Finally, get a life outside of work. Either that or write for a column like this one.

(*) – Mohammed Nassar was kidnapped at birth and forced to work in advertising, in Cairo, New York and London. Today, his main concern is that archaeologists will one day stumble upon his desk, debate the value of his profession and judge him and feel free to email him.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Egypt)

Posted in ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, INTERNATIONAL, RECESSION, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT | 6 Comments »

FIRST GAS DISCOVERY IN MOROCCO

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 13, 2008

11-10-2008

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE NORTH AFRICA JOURNAL’ (Boston, MA, USA)

UK-based independent hydrocarbons exploration firm Circle Oil Plc confirms that it has found natural Britain’s Isle of Grain Liquefied Natural Gas terminal has received its first gas shipment after a substantial upgrade programme designed to increase handling capacity to 8.6 Bcm per year - 26-11-2008gas in the north-east of the Moroccan capital Rabat. The finding is important in that Morocco has long been hoping to find hydrocarbons and past discoveries turned into failed ventures and bad PR disasters.

This time, the news is more solid. Circle says the gas was found on well ONZ6 in the Ouled N’Zala Permit. The Company confirms a discovery in the Upper Ouled Formation with the well testing gas at a sustained rate of 3.32 MMscfd. The well has been completed as a potential producer and the drilling rig has now moved to the Sebou permit to start drilling the second location of the six well drilling program planned for the two permits.

A full technical evaluation of all the results is underway which will allow for forward planning as a precursor to further assessment of the resource including conducting an extended well test. A full assessment of reserves has not yet been completed.

The Ouled N’Zala Permit lies north-east of Rabat in the Rharb Basin, Morocco. The Rharb Basin is a foredeep Basin located in the external zone of the Rif Folded belt. The concession agreement includes the right of conversion to a production license of 30 years, plus extensions, in the event of commercial discoveries. Circle holds a 75% interest in the Sebou permit.

The work in Morocco is being undertaken by Circle Oil Maroc Ltd (COML), a wholly owned subsidiary of Circle Oil plc, which was signed an Exploration and Exploitation Agreement with ONHYM (Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines) for the Sebou Concession (296 km2), situated in the Rharb Basin, Morocco. The Exploration Agreement is for a total period of 8 years with the right of automatic conversion to a minimum (but extendable) 25 year Exploitation period.

The Sebou Permit has previously been owned, explored and exploited by ONHYM. In the partnership the shareholding is COML 75% and ONHYM 25%. The Rharb Basin is highly prospective and has a historic natural gas production of almost one billion MM3. 2D seismic and well calibration is available and ONHYM have extensive knowledge of the area. Small scale Gas production within the Rharb is presently from four wells.

The permit has considerable potential for the exploration and development of more natural gas and exploitation would be by a series of low cost wells/producers each producing from 20-80MM3 of gas. The produced gas will be sold to local industry at locally agreed commercial rates. If successful, the development will allow COML to achieve production in a relatively short time scale and provide a long term continuing earnings contribution to COML.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE NORTH AFRICA JOURNAL’ (Boston, MA, USA)

Posted in COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, ENERGY INDUSTRIES, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, MOROCCO, NATURAL GAS, RECESSION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, UNITED KINGDOM | Leave a Comment »

CONCRETE MASONERS PUT THEIR CASE (South Africa)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 13, 2008

11 Dec 2008

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE BUSINESS NEWS’ (South Africa)

THE claims regarding environmental issues relating to products and services are often misleading because the subject is a complex matter that is fraught with misinformation and half truths. The claims often only select snippets of information, and the attributes often have no real impact on the environmental issues at large, says Bob Low of Inca, talking on behalf of concrete masoners.

It is therefore key to any discussion relating to environmental issues, to ask the right questions, namely:

– What environmental issues are being addressed? (e.g. global warming, energy, biodiversity, water scarcity etc).

– Are the claims material to environmental issues at large?

– Is the entire ‘cradle to grave’ life cycle (i.e. manufacturing, operational life and end of life) taken into account?

The main concern with environmental issues today relate to global warming, which is directly proportional to the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. Over 90% of CO2emissions in South Africa are produced in the burning of fossil fuels to produce energy. It is therefore safe to assume that the energy employed during the entire life cycle of the product has a direct impact on global warming issues.

It is estimated that South Africa produces 3.5 billion bricks per annum which equates to 1.6 million tons of CO2 per annum. To put this into context, brick production has the equivalent global warming contribution as the annual emissions from 360 000 average sized sedan cars.

Bricks also constitute approximately 30-60% of a buildings total embodied energy. The global warming effect from masonry products is therefore substantial and material to the environmental issues at large.

One has to analyse the carbon footprint of masonry holistically. The energy employed in the manufacturing of the product (i.e. embodied energy), the energy efficiency of a building built with different masonry materials (i.e. operational energy), and the energy savings resulting from recycling all have be taken into account, before a fair judgment can be made about a products complete environmental impact, Low says.

Embodied energy refers to the amount of energy required to produce the product. Clay and concrete bricks (also called cement bricks in the industry) both employ energy intensive processes. The main contributor of the carbon footprint in clay bricks is in the firing process. Clay is fired in kilns at 1000°C for 2 – 3 days.

The main contributor of embodied energy in concrete is cement. Cement only comprises 10% of a concrete brick. Cement is produced by heating limestone and other materials at 1450°C for 30 minutes. It therefore stands to reason that concrete bricks employ substantially less energy to produce than clay bricks. International and local research concur that the embodied energy of clay products are 2.5MJ / kg whilst concrete bricks are 0.95MJ / kg, according to Low.

The operational life refers to the energy utilized in the life time of the building to heat and cool the ambient temperatures. Clay and concrete have marginally different thermal properties. Concrete generally has a higher thermal capacity (i.e. ability to store heat), which enables the product to store heat at night and release this stored heat during the day. Clay has however better thermal resistance properties making it a better insulating material. Clay and concrete therefore effect the energy utilization of a building differently in different climatic conditions.

“This is however a nebulous comparison as studies show that the choice of masonry has a marginal effect of a buildings energy utilization as more than 80% of heat is transferred via windows, doors and ceilings,” says Low.

He points out that all concrete is 100% recyclable and makes an excellent aggregate to produce other concrete bricks. Clay bricks can be recycled to form sub-base materials in the construction industry. The recycling process ultimately reduces the total embodied energy by only 0.08 MJ / kg (i.e. 8%) which has a marginal effect on the cradle to grave total carbon footprint of clay and concrete masonry.

Low says the correct choice of masonry products will have a massive impact on green house emissions and energy consumption. Embodied energy, the only differential between masonry products, is the most critical and important factor in the entire life cycle of masonry in a building and can account for up to 60% of a buildings embodied energy. Masonry has little impact on the energy utilization during the life of a building and all masonry materials can be recycled effectively.

Concrete has a carbon footprint 2.5 times less than an equivalent clay brick, and the choice of concrete can therefore reduce the carbon emissions of a mid size residential dwelling by 30 tons, which is equivalent to a cars emissions for 7 years. The choice of masonry material is the easiest and most cost effective manner to substantially reduce a buildings carbon footprint, says Low.

FROM SCRATCH NEWSWIRE EDITORIAL BOARD – We would like to highlight the fact that the author of the above text simply did not mention all the mining procedures as to what concerns cement production.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE BUSINESS NEWS’ (South Africa)

Posted in CEMENT, CHEMICALS (processed components), COAL, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, ENERGY INDUSTRIES, ENVIRONMENT, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, MINING INDUSTRIES, RECESSION, RECYCLING INDUSTRIES, SOUTH AFRICA, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE WORK MARKET | Leave a Comment »

INNOVATION IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS (South Africa)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 13, 2008

11 Dec 2008

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE BUSINESS NEWS’ (South Africa)

THIS year has been exceptional in that the export markets started on an unbelievably high level and thanks to a combination of factors, Capespan realised on average 43% higher payments to growers of deciduous fruit in the first couple of months this year, compared to the same period last year, while citrus was up 70%, according to group managing director Neil Oosthuizen.

But in an interview with CBN he sounded caution, indicating that recent developments on the world’s economic scene have brought their own uncertainties.

“It’s clear that consumers in most countries are taking financial strain and although we aim to keep prices low on the retailers’ shelves, sales may be strained as fruit products, especially grapes, are often viewed as a luxury”, Oosthuizen says.

Consumers will have less money to spend on expensive fruit. And because supermarkets will be fighting to retain shoppers and because fruit is often regarded a high profile item, they’ll want to show that they’re offering the lowest possible fruit prices.

It is for this reason that Capespan will continue to be innovative particularly so in specialised packaging and value added products. So for example Capespan has launched its new fresh-cut products.

In partnership with UK processors Orchard County Foods and Superior Foods, Capespan is meeting the need for convenient fruit snacks with a range of products under the CAPE label. These are Snack Bags (apple and grape) and Fruit Pots, a fruit medley and pineapple and grape.

Another innovation is individually sleeved CAPE fresh pineapple sticks, which were launched earlier this year as part of the British Airways long haul menu. So far feedback has been extremely positive, Oosthuizen says, with the demand currently 80 000 sticks a week, but this is forecast to increase to 100 000 sticks a week. It is now looking at increasing the range in the future with additional fruit products.

Capespan also launched its new Capespan Gold brand in the UK market to meet demand from its top-end global customers for fruit of exceptional quality. Customers range from independent retailers to catering and food service organisations supplying the UK’s boardrooms and airport business lounges.

It’s anticipated that once Capespan Gold grapes are established in the market, the brand will be extended to other fruit kinds. A simple, stylish livery has been developed for the brand.

He also notes the continuing trend for retailers to get closer and better understand producers. “As the middleman, we the exporters, acknowledge the growing importance of supply chain management services in supporting the marketing process. Continual pressure to cut costs and find the most effective routes will beef up supply chain management challenges further. Therefore we’ve examined ways to elevate our service delivery and offering to the highest levels”.

“This is essential in guaranteeing Cape-span’s exceptional services, featuring quality and innovation – factors which distinguish us from our competitors”, he says.

Of strategic importance is also securing Capespan’s fruit supply. To this end it has, through its associate company Rapiprop, purchased the 490 ha Applethwaite farm in the Grabouw area. “The purchase of this large apple, pear and plum production unit underscores Capespan’s continued focus on growth and development”, says Oosthuizen.

“Because the farm has been a Capespan supplier for more then 60 years, we know the business intimately”, he says.

With orchards covering 300 ha, Applethwaite annually exports 260 000 cartons of apples, 50 000 cartons of pears and 100 000 trays of plums. Apart from having its own pack house and cold stores, the farm was one of the first in the country to offer a creche, pre-school, clinic and church facilities to staff members. The company’s infrastructure is a producer’s dream. Plus, it was one of the pioneers in computerised quality control, according to Oosthuizen.

Rapiprop, a joint venture between Capespan, Total Produce plc and the Cape Empowerment Trust, owns and operates farms in South Africa. The organisation buys farms that are good investments, secures a strategic fruit supply and will plan an important empowerment role in future.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE BUSINESS NEWS’ (South Africa)

Posted in AGRICULTURE, AIR TRANSPORT INDUSTRY, BANKING SYSTEMS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRIES, FOOD INDUSTRIES, FOOD PRODUCTION (human), FRUITS AND FRESH VEGETABLES, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, PAPER INDUSTRIES, RECESSION, SOUTH AFRICA, THE WORK MARKET, TRANSPORT INDUSTRIES, UNITED KINGDOM | Leave a Comment »

RUBBLE TOO HAS ITS USES (South Africa)_

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 13, 2008

10 Dec 2008

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE BUSINESS NEWS’ (South Africa)

Black empowered construction materials supplier, Afrimat Limited, is actively involved in the promotion and manufacturing of crushed rubble. Through its subsidiaries, Malans Quarries and Melani Materials, Afrimat has been involved in marketing crushed rubble since the early nineties.

On one of the company’s initial projects – the demolition of the Paarden Island Power Station – material was crushed and sold commercially instead of being carted and dumped at the municipal landfill sites which would have wasted vital air space.

It has not always been plain sailing for the material due to the reluctance from some quarters to use crushed rubble because of concerns about durability and its lacking track record. Divisional manager for Afrimat Cape Town Hylton Hale emphasises that this is definitely not the case as in the nearly 20 years that Afrimat has supplied crushed rubble there have been only two recorded minor failures, which were easily resolved using replacement recycled material.

This prompted the company to approach the University of Cape Town’s Civil Engineering Department in 2002 to embark on a research programme on the use of recycled aggregates in concrete and road layer works. A detailed report was compiled, outlining the use and capabilities of crushed rubble. The report demonstrated that the material is a viable option provided certain criteria such as initial raw material sorting and the exclusion of organic, plastic and other waste, is met.

Since the company has entered the recycling world, Afrimat, through Malans Quarries, has sold over 2.5 million tonnes of recycled road building material.

The company has supplied this material to some prestigious projects including the parking areas and minor roads in the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Grand West Casino, Somerset Mall, Westlake Office Park, Noordhoek Shopping Mall, Cape Town Convention Centre, Century City, amongst others. Afrimat has also supplied recycled material to a number of urban minor roads in townships throughout the Cape Metropolis.

Notably, the City of Cape Town has now recognised the use of recycled material in construction as evidenced in their recent tender for contractors to crush waste rubble at their landfill sites.

Afrimat Cape Town was awarded the contract and distributes and manufactures crushed concrete base and sub base from the Bellville South, Coastal Park and Gordons Bay sites.

“Crushed rubble is here to stay as it not only provides a more economical solution to road building but also plays a vital role in combating minimisation of the ever-expanding and valuable air space at our municipal landfill sites,” says Hale.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE BUSINESS NEWS’ (South Africa)

Posted in COMMERCE, CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENVIRONMENT, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, RECESSION, RECYCLING INDUSTRIES, SOUTH AFRICA, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE WORK MARKET | 1 Comment »

INDONESIA’S PERTAMINA EYES VERENEX LIBYA OIL FIND

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 13, 2008

11/12/2008 15:33:00

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE TRIPOLI POST’ (Lybia)

Indonesia’s state oil firm, Pertamina, would like to participate in the Libyan oil area of Canadian energy company Verenex , a senior company executive said on Monday.

Pertamina has said it wants to expand its upstream activities and to participate in several potential oil and gas projects both at home and abroad to boost its reserves.

“We are interested in buying a stake in Verenex area 47 in Libya. We plan to see the data of the area,” Karen Agustiawan, Pertamina’s upstream director, told Reuters by telephone.

Verenex and partner PT Medco Energi Internasional have a 13.7 percent interest in a production sharing agreement with Libya’s National Oil Corporation, which holds the remaining share.

In October, Verenex made a new oil discovery in Libya in wildcat exploration well C1-47/02a, 180 km southwest of the capital Tripoli, NOC said in a statement on its website.

The flow was through a choke size of 32/64ths of an inch, with oil flowing at 1,739 barrels per day from a depth of 8,312 feet.

Pertamina already has two areas in Libya, 17 and 123 in Sirte, which are still at the exploration stage.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE TRIPOLI POST’ (Lybia)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, CANADA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, ENERGY INDUSTRIES, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, INDONESIA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LYBIA, PETROL, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

COLD WAR TAKES GLOSS OFF NICOLAS SARKOZY’S PRESIDENCY

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 13, 2008

December 12, 2008

Charles Bremner in Paris – The Times

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE TIMES’ (UK)

The Germans see him as an excitable clown and he raises hackles in the East, but Nicolas Sarkozy wants to extend SARKOZY, ACCORDING TO MERKELhis reign as Europe’s de facto leader after his last summit in the EU chair, which opened yesterday.

The hyperactive French President is convinced that he has galvanised Europe with deft handling of the credit crunch and other crises during his six-month EU presidency.

The satisfaction in Paris is barely dimmed by the most glaring failure of France’s presidency: Mr Sarkozy’s cold war with Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor.

The subdued Ms Merkel, who loathes Mr Sarkozy’s bravura, has been watching videos of the late Louis de Funès, a manic comic actor and Gallic institution, for clues to understanding the ever-agitated President.

Der Spiegel says that the Chancellor sees Mr Sarkozy as an “unfeasibly vain jack-in-the-box”: “She has nothing to counter him apart from her eternal impassiveness. Her fist may be clenched but she keeps it in her pocket.”

“Super Sarko”, who does not claim modesty among his qualities, is telling colleagues that he has triumphed by steering Europe through the financial crunch – with Gordon Brown’s help – and creating a new political purpose in the moribund Union.

Jean-David Levitte, the veteran diplomat who manages foreign policy from the Élysée Palace, said that Mr Sarkozy had swung the balance of power in Europe by winning over second-rank members such as Greece.

As the Czech Republic prepares to take over the presidency next month, Mr Sarkozy’s team has been setting out his plans for maintaining French direction. Last month Ms Merkel scuppered Mr Sarkozy’s attempt to appoint himself chairman of the eurozone for next year during the EU presidencies of two non-euro states. But France has another 18 months as co-chair of an EU-Mediterranean Union that Mr Sarkozy launched last July.

His next plan, not yet announced, is a new “economic and security space” with Russia, Mr Levitte disclosed. Given anger in the West towards Russia’s occupation of northern Georgia, European leaders will be surprised to learn that Mr Sarkozy aims to offer a new security pact to Russia and hopes to bring in Ukraine and Turkey.

Another item to emerge from Mr Sarkozy’s team this week has been the President’s belief that Mr Brown will swap the pound for the single currency, thereby boosting the power of the eurozone. “Do you think that they enjoy seeing sterling in such a state?” asked a senior Sarkozy adviser.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE TIMES’ (UK)

Posted in COMMERCE, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENGLAND, EUROPE, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FRANCE, GEORGIA, GERMANY, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, RECESSION, RUSSIA, THE EUROPEAN UNION, TURKEY, UKRAINE | Leave a Comment »