News That Matters
Despite the falling PMI figures released earlier, China is taking over America, or? Must read by The American Conservative. The rise of China surely ranks among the most important world developments of the last 100 years. With America still trapped in its fifth year of economic hardship, and the Chinese economy poised to surpass our own before the end of this decade, China looms very large on the horizon. We are living in the early years of what journalists once dubbed “The Pacific Century,” yet there are worrisome signs it may instead become known as “The Chinese Century.”
Most Asian stock markets were lower Tuesday as poor economic data in the euro zone and continued concerns over political uncertainty in Europe weighed on risk appetite. Weak economic data in the euro zone, which saw the preliminary composite Purchasing Managers Index fall to a five-month low in April, dampened risk appetite.  Political events in Europe continued to impact sentiment on concerns that the Netherlands could lose its triple-A credit rating after Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte offered to resign in light of unsuccessful budget talks over the weekend, and as Nicolas Sarkozy battled to hold onto the French Presidency

Inflation in Australia remained tame in the early months of 2012, stoking the case for interest rates to be cut as early as next week. The consumer price index rose 0.1% in the first quarter of 2012 from the fourth quarter of 2011 and rose 1.6% from a year earlier, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday. Core inflation, which irons out one-off price movements that may skew the data and is central to decision making at the Reserve Bank of Australia, rose 0.4% in the quarter

As Facebook Inc. enters the final weeks before its landmark initial public offering, not all of the arrows are pointing up. In what is likely to be the last snapshot of its financial condition before the expected May IPO, Facebook disclosed Monday that its first-quarter profit and revenue declined from the final quarter of 2011. Facebook’s profit decline and rising spending show the strain the company is under as it challenges entrenched rivals to become one of the biggest players in Silicon Valley. At a potential valuation of about $100 billion out of the gate, Facebook will be under pressure to quickly justify that sum to investors. The company’s first-quarter revenue was $1.06 billion, down 6% from the December quarter. In a regulatory filing, the company blamed the decline on “seasonal trends” in the advertising business and user growth in markets where Facebook generates less revenue per user.

Spain’s economy contracted 0.4% in the first quarter from the fourth, the country’s central bank said Monday, the latest evidence that Spain’s efforts to rein in government spending could be feeding a downward economic spiral. The central bank numbers, released about a week before the government’s official data, confirm that Spain is far from a much-needed economic reboundin which government austerity measures have damped growth, which could in turn make it tougher for Madrid to achieve ambitious austerity targets.

Growing political uncertainty in Europe, coupled with fresh evidence of economic weakness on the Continent, rattled global stock and bond investors Monday. Stocks across the region plunged, dragging down U.S. shares. Investors fled debt of peripheral European nationsand even some core countriesfor the safety of German bonds. Yields on 10-year bunds reached a record low and the Stoxx 600 index dropped 2.35%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 102.09 points to 12927.17. Amid the turmoil, traders noted the relative resilience of the euro, which finished Monday at $1.3158, down less than 0.5%. The currency’s strength demonstrates that, at least for now, money is not flooding out of the euro zone, as it was late last year. Many investors have already slashed their investments in Europe, strategists and analysts said, reducing the likelihood of a mass exodus.

The euro zone’s private sector contracted in April at the sharpest pace since November, damaged by a steep decline in the manufacturing sector, suggesting the region won’t rebound quickly from the recession recent data are pointing to. And, with new orders falling, input prices rising and firms cutting jobs as confidence weakens, the second part of the likely double-dip recession may be as debilitating as the first. The euro zone emerged from the latest recession in the third quarter of 2009.  The preliminary composite PMI for the euro zone slumped to 47.4 in April from March’s 49.1, Markit’s preliminary purchasing managers’ index showed Monday. The April manufacturing PMI slipped to 46 from March’s 47.7 while the services PMI also declined to 47.9 from 49.2 over the same period, data from the statistical database firm showed. A level above 50 signals an expansion in activity, while a level below 50 signals a contraction.  “The euro zone ‘flash’ PMIs signal that the euro zone is sliding deeper into contraction territory again in April, with the deterioration spreading across the manufacturing and the service sectors,” said Evelyn Herrmann, European economist for BNP Paribas. “The start in the second quarter of this year is not so good for the euro zone….This makes a return to growth in this quarter very challenging.”

Wall Street’s latest problem: too many bankers and not enough deals. Amid new regulation, lower profits and a dreary market for mergers and acquisitions, several banks are planning to trim investment-banking units that were built for an era of deals aplenty. Having already slashed bonuses, banks including Citigroup Inc., C -1.89%Goldman Sachs Group Inc., GS -0.61%J.P. Morgan Chase JPM +0.30%& Co. and Morgan Stanley MS -2.86%are preparing to cut dozens of jobs, including some held by senior bankers, according to people familiar with the matter. As they pursue this targeted round of trims as soon as next month, they and rivals are also revisiting profit expectations for their advisory businesses, people familiar with the matter said. Until recently, Wall Street’s ax had largely fallen on trading desks, which shed thousands of jobs as business dried up due to regulations and lackluster markets. But the cost-cutting focus is now expanding to deal makers and corporate advisers that have remained among Wall Street’s most high-profile professionals even as their contributions to banks’ bottom line has been dwarfed by traders. In addition to mergers-and-acquisitions advisory, investment banking includes raising capital through stock and debt.

Japan Tobacco Inc. unveiled top management that for the first time in 27 years won’t feature at least one former bureaucrat, as Japan’s government lines up a multibillion-dollar sale to slash its 50% holding in the cigarette maker. The move came as the world’s third-largest tobacco company by sales volume continues to press the case for the full privatization it says it needs to compete more effectively with global rivals such as British American Tobacco PLC and Philip Morris International Inc. of the U.S. JT has said it wants to compete on an “equal footing” with its fully private rivals

Competition is intensifying in the lucrative market for luxury cars in China as upstarts such as Cadillac and Infiniti look to take on popular stalwarts like Audi and BMW just as signs of a slowdown appear in the world’s largest auto market. General Motors Co. on Monday said the U.S. auto maker will bring five to 10 new Cadillac models to China through 2016 and will build at least one factory here that will produce only Cadillacs. The move marks an attempt to make the brand, which has struggled in the U.S., more profitable and bring down per-unit costs.
Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp have signed a deal Monday in which the social-networking firm will have the right to buy some of the patents the software giant will acquire from AOL Inc.  Facebook will pay $550 million in cash in the agreement announced by the two companies. Shares of Microsoft fell about 1% to close at $32.12. AOL also slipped 1% to close at $24.75. Facebook is expected to go public sometime next month.
For months Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager has subjected Athens to regular dressings-down on the dire state of its finances. Now, with his coalition brought to its knees by a row over budget cuts, Greeks may detect a whiff of hypocrisy. Even by the standards of the blunt-talking Dutch, De Jager hasn’t minced his words in demanding that Greek leaders submit to EU demands for punitive austerity measures – or forget about getting any help to avoid bankruptcy. So blunt were some of his comments that he helped to provoke a response from the Greek head of state, who normally stays above the rough and tumble of daily politics. “Who are the Dutch?” asked an angry President Karolos Papoulias in February.

Gold struggled to move higher in thin trade on Tuesday as investors waited for a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting to shed some light on the central bank’s monetary policy amid caution over a resurfacing crisis in Europe. Spot gold was little changed at $1,636.69 an ounce by 11:12 p.m. EDT , after falling to $1,619.99 on Monday – its lowest since April 4. The $1,620-$1,630 level has proved to be a key support region. U.S. gold edged up 0.3 percent to $1,637.80.

Brent crude was steady under $119 a barrel on Tuesday as fears over the health of the euro zone economies and political uncertainty countered worries over a production stoppage in the North Sea and potential supply disruptions from Iran. Brent crude eased 9 cents to $118.62 a barrel by 11:56 p.m. EDT, while U.S. crude was down 18 cents at $102.93.
’s banks posted their fastest profit growth in at least four years for 2011 as income from loans and fee-based financial services outpaced an increase in defaults triggered by a slowing economy.  Financial institutions in China including policy banks, commercial lenders, rural credit cooperatives and foreign banks, earned a combined net income of 1.25 trillion yuan ($198 billion) last year, a gain of 39 percent from a year earlier, the China Banking Regulatory Commission said in its annual report today.

Singapore may introduce additional measures to cool the housing market after private home sales reached a record in the first quarter as more “shoebox” apartments were sold, property services company Jones Lang LSalle Inc. and brokerages including Nomura Holdings Inc. said. Home sales climbed to 6,682 units in the three months ended March 31, the highest quarterly figure since 1996 when the Urban Redevelopment Authority began reporting the data. Prices rose 1.2 percent for the mass market in the same period, preliminary estimates from the authority showed earlier this month.

Singapore praised the U.S., the European Union and Australia for moving to ease sanctions against Myanmar and called for further engagement to help the former dictatorship transition to democracy. “Sanctions ought to go,” Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said in an interview. Myanmar’s government “is keen to do what is necessary to uplift the lives of ordinary Myanmarese” and “we have to continue to encourage Myanmar diplomatically and commercially.” EU foreign ministers yesterday suspended sanctions against Myanmar while the U.S. is considering lifting trade and financial restrictions for certain industries. The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes Myanmar and Singapore, has repeatedly called on the West to lift sanctions on the nation of 64 million people.

India’s phone regulator proposed airwaves fees that may increase license costs for potential bidders including Vodafone Group Plc (VOD) by at least 11-fold, raising concerns the pricing will stunt the industry’s growth. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India yesterday set a reserve price of 181 billion rupees ($3.4 billion) for a permit spanning the entire country, compared with 16.6 billion rupees for similar second-generation licenses sold in 2008. Vodafone said the non-binding recommendations will do “irreparable harm,” while the Cellular Operators Association of Indiacalled it a “disaster” that would discourage carriers.
The Dow Index is slipping below 13,000. The U.S. dollar Index is hovering near 80 in a weak symmetrical triangle pattern. The euro/dollar continues in a downtrend with more weakness developing. All these factors should be bullish for gold. But there are three important resistance features on the weekly Comex gold chart. The first feature is the strong resistance near $1,800/oz. The gold price has moved above this level, but this level developed strong resistance in November 2011 and again in February 2012. There is a high probability $1,800 will act as a strong resistance again.

The latest boost in the International Monetary Fund’s lending power should help in preventing a potential debt ‘Ebola’ from contaminating the rest of Europe, Angel Gurria, the Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) told CNBC on Tuesday. “I don’t think one can overestimate contagion,” Gurria said on CNBC Asia’s “Squawk Box”program from Japan. “Contagion is instantaneous, it is severe. It’s like Ebola. Once you realize you got it, you have to cut off your leg in order to survive.” “We should be fast and we should focus. And this is what this firewall is about,” he added, referring to the trillions of dollars of funding that the euro zone and other Group of 20 (G20) nations have pledged to help deal with a potential fallout from the debt crisis.

Apple earnings will hang over the market all day Tuesday, as investors await what stands to be the most important earnings release of the quarter. “Earnings have been beating a very low bar and the guidance isn’t that great…(Tuesday) is the last day for the earnings season to trigger a market rally because if Apple can’t do it, nothing can,” said Barry Knapp, head of equities portfolio strategy at Barclays. Apple reports after the closing bell. “I think even a good Apple number will get just a temporary positive from the market because the macro factors are big issues,” he said, referring to concerns about Europe and the economy.

Greek voters are unlikely to pick a clear winner in a snap election that is expected to send a record number of parties to parliament next month and test the international bailout keeping the country afloat. Political analysts say the outcome of the May 6 election is hard to predict. The conservative New Democracy party is seen as ahead but not by enough to take sole charge of the indebted euro zone member.  This could lead to days or weeks of negotiations while it forges a coalition with the Socialist PASOK party to impose austerity and reforms to meet the terms of a second 130 billion euro bailout from Europe and the International Monetary Fund.  “It’s a great puzzle,” said Theodore Couloumbis of the ELIAMEP think tank. “I hope the pro-bailout parties will be able to form a government. This is the most likely scenario.”
With political allies weakened or ousted, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s seat at the head of the European table has become much less comfortable, as a reckoning with Germany’s insistence on lock-step austerity appears to have begun.  “The formula is not working, and everyone is now talking about whether austerity is the only solution,” said Jordi Vaquer i Fanés, a political scientist and director of the Barcelona Center for International Affairs in Spain. “Does this mean that Merkel has lost completely? No. But it does mean that the very nature of the debate about the euro-zone crisis is changing.”
The Bank of Israel on Monday left its benchmark interest rate at 2.5% for May, the fourth month in a row at that level. The central bank said the annualized consumer price indexes for January, February and March came in near the midpoint of its target inflation rate of 1% to 3%. Inflation expectations for the next 12 months are a “relatively high” 2.5%, reflecting persistently high energy costs and estimates that rents will continue to increase relatively rapidly, the central bank said. The bank said it saw no “other domestic inflationary demand pressures.” In

Treasury prices rose on Monday, pushing 10-year yields down to their lowest in almost two months, as worries about potential changes in French and Dutch political leaders added to weakening economic data in the region, boosting the appeal of the relative safety of U.S. bonds. “The uncertainties of Europe’s political landscape combined with weaker PMI data out of the region have aided the flight-to-quality underpinnings for the market,” said David Ader and Ian Lyngen, bond strategists at CRT Capital Group. Yields on 10-year notes , which move inversely to prices, fell 5 basis points to 1.93%.
Talking about the monetary system these days requires using unimaginably large numbers, such as $1 trillion, the total U.S. currency in circulation, and $10.9 trillion, the U.S. government debt held by the public. The growing U.S. debt $15.6 trillion, if you throw in Social Security and Medicare is one reason people fear inflation and think that the monetary system is out of control. “Never in history have we run debts and deficits to this magnitude,” says Lance Roberts, chief economist at StreetTalk Advisors. “We’ve never been here before.” It’s one reason the gold standard is gaining renewed popularity. Rep. Ron Paul, Republican candidate for president, has long advocated a role for gold in monetary policy. Jim Grant, the erudite editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, has long made the case for returning to the gold standard. In layman’s terms, the gold standard means hitching the value of the dollar to the price of gold. The amount of gold the country owns limits the amount of money it can print.
Indian companies will sell record local-currency bonds in 2012 as the central bank cuts rates for the first time in three years and before government borrowings deluge the market, the nation’s top underwriter said. Issuance may increase as much as 20 percent this year, with about 75 percent of funds raised being used to refinance existing notes at cheaper rates, Shashi Kant Rathi, head of debt capital markets at Axis Bank Ltd., said in an interview April 19 in Mumbai. Tata Steel Ltd., the country’s largest producer of the metal, and Indian Bank, announced offerings after the Reserve Bank of India cut the key rate to 8 percent, and indicated the reduction might be the only one this year. Companies are readying sales before interest rates climb again, pressured by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s unprecedented 5.69 trillion rupee ($108 billion) borrowing plan for the year started April 1. Yields for top-rated companies fell 18 basis points to 9.36 percent this month, while rates on five-year government notes are the highest among Asia’s 13 biggest markets, and almost triple those in China.
Indian IT firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has crossed $10bn (£6.2bn) in annual revenues for the first time. Net profits rose 22% to $2.2bn in the year to March from the previous year. TCS said that it has “undertaken the largest ever hiring effort in our history” by adding almost 40,000 new staff.  he firm said its do uble-digit profit growth was fuelled by “game-changing technologies” like cloud computing. TCS’ perfromance contrasts with rival Infosys, India’s second-largest software company, which issued a weaker-than-expected outlook for the current financial year.
Standard & Poor’s has put a “negative watch” on Argentina’s credit rating, citing “rising restrictions to international trade” and “steps to nationalise oil company YPF” as reasons for the move.  Despite affirming its “B” credit rating, S&P added that the South American country’s recent actions “could exacerbate existing weaknesses in the economy”, pointing to high inflation and increasingly rigid government expenditure.  The news came after Spain’s Repsol threatened legal action against any company that attempts to invest in YPF following its expropriation by Argentina last week, as the government expressed determination to “pay nothing at all” in compensation to the Spanish oil company.

What next for the euro if France rejects austerity? What on earth is going on with our money? At a time when the UK Government is imposing another £16bn of spending cuts, is abolishing pensioner tax reliefs, and is apparently so financially stretched that it needs to tax warm pasties, it has somehow managed to find an additional £10bn to bail out the eurozone. This from a prime minister who declares himself a “eurosceptic”. Is it any wonder that the Tories are trailing in the polls? I’ve found myself genuinely torn by the debate around new loans to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). On the one hand, I’m a supporter of multilateral solutions, and find the spectacle of so many countries, some of them quite poor, coming together to create a bigger and more credible financial safety net both noble and inspiring.

Crime generates an estimated $2.1 trillion in global annual proceeds – or 3.6pc of the world’s gross domestic product – and the problem may be growing, a senior United Nations official has said. “It makes the criminal business one of the largest economies in the world, one of the top 20 economies,” said Yury Fedotov, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), describing it as a threat to security and economic development. The figure was calculated recently for the first time by the UNODC and World Bank, based on data for 2009, and no comparisons are yet available, Mr Fedotov told a news conference.
German bunds rallied, driving five- and 10-year yields to record lows, as a backlash against austerity toppled the Dutch government and left French President Nicolas Sarkozy trailing in his re-election bid. The Netherlands’ 10-year bond yields reached a three-year high relative to German debt on bets the coalition’s collapse will derail budget-cutting plans and threaten Europe’s response to the debt crisis. French bonds underperformed their German counterparts after the first round of presidential elections. Bunds outperformed all but one of their euro-area peers as a report showed services and manufacturing output in the region contracted more than economists estimated this month.
Greece’s ability to recover competitive economic standing will be severely constrained if it continues to use the euro, and other indebted euro zone countries will likely face similar struggles, the head of Germany’s prominent Ifo Institute for Economic Research said on Monday. “I personally believe there’s no chance for Greece to become competitive (while) in the euro zone,” Hans-Werner Sinn, president of Ifo, said in a luncheon speech in New York. “If Greece is kept in the euro zone, there will be ongoing mass unemployment. But if they exit, they will see a very sudden recovery,” he said, as lower prices boost competitiveness.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Monday urged regional governments to tackle rising income inequality with more urgency, warning any delay could undermine social cohesion and economic growth. Mr Rajat Nag, ADB’s managing director-general, said failing to address the problem now could spark further dissatisfaction and lead governments to resort to populist measures to appease their citizens. But populist measures like fuel subsidies and cash grants are taxing on state coffers and could result in financial instability in the longer term, he said.
The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) (London) plc said on Monday it would work on boosting off-shore trading of Chinese currency RMB, also known as yuan, here in Europe. Xu Jinlei, general manager of ICBC London, said ICBC London would work hard to develop itself into a European center of off-shore RMB trading, syndicated loans, trade finance, and capital and precious metal trading, to provide high-quality financial service for clients worldwide. He made the comments during the inauguration ceremony of ICBC’s new headquarters in the City Of London.

Japan will keep calling on the United States to accept a 2010 agreement for the governance reforms of International Monetary Fund, a deal which will enhance voices from the emerging economies within the multilateral lender, Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi said Tuesday. “We will try to convince the United States,” Azumi said. But he also said that he understands it is difficult for the U.S. to make any politically sensitive decision ahead of the presidential election later this year. Emerging economies such as Brazil, China and India have made their calls for swiftly making the reforms effective, showing reluctance to make additional commitments to the organization unless they gain louder voices within the IMF reflecting their growing importance in the global economy.

Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 4 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2012, Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina said Monday. In March 2012 alone, the GDP grew by 3.2 percent year on year, Nabiullina said in a meeting with Prime Minister and President-elect Vladimir Putin. She also mentioned that her ministry has lowered its forecast for GDP growth in 2012 from 3.7 percent to 3.4 percent.

The Greek state budget deficit reached 9.1 percent of GDP in 2011, down from 10.3 percent the previous year, the Greek Statistics Authority ELSTAT announced on Monday. According to revised estimates in cooperation with Eurostat, the Greek government’s deficit stood at 19.6 billion euros (25.74 billion U.S. dollars) in 2011, accounting for 9.1 percent of GDP. Greek national debt hit 355.6 billion euros (467.08 billion U.S. dollars) in 2011, which accounts for approximately 165.3 percent of GDP.
The relevant agencies consider adjusting the state highways net blueprint concerning the difference of regional development in recent years, and the revised blueprint would add more 20 thousand kilometers new state highways, an anonymous official told China Securities Journal Monday. The newly revised blueprint has been sent to the provinces for opinion, then the relevant agencies would submit the blueprint to the State Council for approval later, the official added. Some analysts said, the central government has been speeding up approving project in roads, railways and utilities to bolster economic growth, the increased fiscal spending on infrastructure.

China’s net foreign financial assets hit 1.77 trillion U.S. dollars as of the end of 2011, up from 1.68 trillion U.S. dollars one year earlier, the country’s top foreign exchange regulator said Monday. As of the end of last year, the nation’s total foreign financial assets hit 4.72 trillion U.S. dollars, while total foreign financial liabilities stood at 2.94 trillion U.S. dollars, according to a statement posted on the State Administration of Foreign Exchange’s website. For the nation’s foreign financial assets as of the end of 2011, reserve assets stood at 3.26 trillion U.S. dollars, direct investment stood at 364.2 billion U.S. dollars and securities investment reached 260 billion U.S. dollars, the statement said.
Chinese authorities have finally given the green light for Indian exports of basmati rice following a long and tortuous six-year process that has been seen as underscoring the difficulties of navigating the complex bureaucratic hurdles that bar entry into the China market.  China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) announced last week it would allow imports of basmati rice from India. Negotiations were on since at least 2006, when President Hu Jintao visited India. It took another visit from Mr. Hu six years later, when he travelled to New Delhi last month for the BRICS Summit, to give the final push to a long-running process.
The government plans to use disinvestment proceeds to set up its own version of a sovereign wealth fund (SWF) that will team up with state-run companies for acquiring overseas raw material and energy assets. A senior government official said about one-third of the proceeds from sale of government equity would be channelised into this fund, and it could also leverage its equity to raise debt, thereby increasing the corpus. “The thinking within the ministry is that disinvestment proceeds could be used in a more productive way… Creation of a sovereign fund is being actively considered,” said a senior finance ministry official.
South Korea’s air cargo traffic dropped 1.9 percent from a year earlier in the first quarter of this year due to a decline in shipments of information technology (IT) products, the government said Tuesday. The country’s air cargo shipments came to 857,000 tons in the January-March period, compared with 874,000 tons a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs. The drop resulted mainly from decreased international air cargo volume, which slipped 2.9 percent on-year to 783,000 tons. Domestic air cargo gained 9.6 percent to 74,000 tons.
The total number of liquidations in March decreased by 39.4% year-on-year (y/y), after a 49.9% y/y decrease in February, Statistics SA data showed on Monday. The number of liquidations for the first quarter of 2012 showed a 42.4% drop compared with the first quarter of 2011.  The y/y decline in the number of liquidations for March 2012 was due to a 48.2% fall in the number of voluntary liquidations.  Company liquidations dropped by 49.0%, while close corporation liquidations decreased by 32.7% over this period.
Despite sanctions, business ties between Germany and Iran remain strong.  German firms, though, continue to engage in brisk trade with Iran and are finding ways of exporting goods despite mounting restrictions.  German companies have adapted to the sanctions and even the European Union’s decision in January to freeze the assets of Iran’s central bank and this month’s move to disconnect Iranian banks from the Swift financial transfer network won’t shut down legal exports of machinery, chemical products, agricultural produce, vehicles and vehicle components to Iran.

Iran and Iraq have agreed to expand bilateral cooperation in different fields of industry and trade, the IRNA news agency reported. Iranian Industry, Mine and Trade Minister Mehdi Ghazanfari met with Iraqi Planning Minister Ali Yusuf al-Shukri, Industry and Minerals Minister Ahmed Nasser Al-Karbouli and Trade Minister Khairallah Hassan Babiker in Tehran on Monday.  They agreed to hold an investment opportunities forum in Iraq in July. The Iraqi side called Iranian companies to actively participate in the Baghdad international exhibition.  Launching joint ventures in steel industry and modernizing the standardization systems of Iraq by Iranian experts were among other agreements made during the meeting.  It was scheduled that an Iraqi trade delegation to travel to Iran within the next 10 days in order to sign a deal for expanding two-way trade.
The GCC received 58 per cent of the total accumulated foreign direct investment, or FDI, of $284 billion that flowed into the Arab countries between 2001 and 2010, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, or Unctad, said. The UAE was the second top recipient of FDI in the Arab world at $75 billion in 10 years after Saudi Arabia at $154 billion, Supachai Panitchpakdi, secretary-general of Unctad said at the World Investment Forum in Doha. The third largest Arab recipient of FDI was Egypt at $53 billion. North African countries accounted for 28 per cent of the total FDI flow into the Arab world while other Arab countries claimed 14 per cent over the 10-year period. Panitchpakdi said although FDI flow had grown robustly to stay above the pre-crisis average, it was still far short of the 2007 historical levels.


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