Saturday, July 31, 2010

German firms angry over Berlin's support for EU sanctions on Iran

Berlin, July 29, - German companies have reportedly vented their anger over Berlin's support for European Union sanctions on Iran, according to Thursday's edition of the business daily Handelsblatt.
Germany's business community is especially disappointed that the center-right government of Chancellor Angela Merkel had backed the EU's punitive measures against Iran which go beyond the UN sanctions.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle who leads the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), had informed the heads of German companies that Berlin would support the disputed EU sanctions.
Germany's controversial sanction policy against Tehran has repeatedly sparked tensions with German business leaders who are very eager to continue their lucrative trade with Iran.
Merkel's Iran sanction strategy has been met with fierce resistance by German companies, feeling abandoned by their government in their efforts not to succumb to US and Zionist political pressure.
German firms are outraged over the fact that even legal business deals with Iran which are not subject to UN sanctions, are being torpedoed by Merkel as well the US and the powerful pro-Israel lobby.
That notwithstanding, German companies remain unfazed by Merkel's policy of discouraging business relations with Iran.
German companies are especially affected by the tightening of the embargo since Iran was the most important export market for Germany in the Middle East and North Africa prior to lauching UN sanctions against Tehran.
Although German firms are determined to maintain their strong business ties with Iran, many Asian and European companies have already replaced them in the Iranian market.
More than 40,000 German jobs are indirectly affected by German-Iranian trade, according to business insiders. Learn more Iran-Europe Relations: Challenges and Opportunities (Durham Modern Middle East and Islamic World Series)

Source : IRNA

Malaysia seeks reforms

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Sharia finance experts, backed by the central bank, are studying possible conflicts between civil and Islamic law amid a raft of high-profile legal disputes which have dampened the industry's appeal.

Legal wrangles have taken centre stage in Islamic finance in the last year as difficult economic conditions triggered defaults and exposed gaps in legal systems, some of which struggled to deal with Sharia banking disputes for the first time.

Where sukuk holders rank in priority of payment when default occurs and the competence of civil courts to adjudicate on Islamic banking disputes are some issues that have come to the fore in the $1 trillion industry.

Lawyers, bankers and Sharia scholars in Malaysia, which has the world's largest sukuk market, are looking into civil law provisions which may conflict with the Sharia and impede the use of Islamic finance.

"We are producing Islamic products in conventional surroundings. The other laws that are applicable - land law, contract law, all other laws - are conventional laws," Abdul Hamid Mohamad, a former Malaysian chief judge who is heading the expert body, said on the sidelines of a law conference.

"So the question arises whether the implementation of Islamic banking is Islamic."

Any conflicts could be addressed with an amendment of the legislation, he said adding that the group would seek the industry's views.

Islamic banking matters in Malaysia are heard in civil law courts, with one judge dedicated to hearing these disputes.

The $130 billion sukuk market has been a source of financing for issuers from Bahrain to Japan but its reputation has suffered in recent years.

The near-default in December of the dollar-denominated sukuk from Dubai property developer Nakheel shattered perceptions that Islamic financing instruments were a safer alternative.

Source : Gulf Daily News

New reforms urged to support Saudi businesswomen

by Neeraj Gangal

A new study on women’s businesses in Saudi Arabia has presented eight recommendations to give Saudi women the same opportunities as women entrepreneurs in other Arab nations, according to a report.

The Arab News daily said on Friday that the study ‘Businesswomen in Saudi Arabia: Characteristics, Challenges, and Aspirations in a Regional Context’, examines the business-enabling environment for women entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia and highlights the personal characteristics and business profiles of women business owners.

According to the Saudi-based daily, the report compares Saudi women entrepreneurs with their counterparts in five Arab countries: Jordan, Bahrain, the UAE, Lebanon and Tunisia.

The report is intended to strengthen “the understanding of the business and regulatory environment for Saudi businesswomen, to contextualise the situation of Saudi women entrepreneurs through comparison between them and other female entrepreneurs in the region and to identify and address the business challenges these women face in order to create a more supportive environment,” Arab News said.

The study made eight specific recommendations to Saudi policymakers to improve the situation of businesswomen:

The report urged policymakers to establish a Ministry of Women’s Affairs to monitor the implementation of related royal decrees and to devise a national strategy for women’s transition into the economy.

It suggested the appointment of female Shoura members to ensure that the interests of Saudi businesswomen and women in general are represented.

It called on to eliminate the requirement for women to appoint a male manager in businesses that serve both sexes.

The report also asked for ease in restrictions on mobility for women, in terms of public transportation, driving and international travel.

It suggested the creation of registration categories for the types of businesses that are in demand by businesswomen, such as beauty salons and day-care centres, and identify the process for creating new registration categories in the future.

The report called on to commission further research on how to increase the effectiveness of businesswomen’s access to government services by improving female sections as well as the main centres in government agencies rather than a direct channel for them to receive government services.

It urged policymakers to launch a nationwide public campaign to promote women’s economic participation and support the implementation of existing Royal Decrees.

The report also suggested that Saudi policymakers ease hiring practices for businesswomen in areas that require international female expertise or that are unable to be met by Saudi female labour. This includes studying the possibility of granting work permits to non-Saudi women residing in Saudi Arabia on non-work visas.

The 68-page report was co-authored by Noura Alturki and Rebekah Braswell and published by the Monitor Group and Al-Sayedah Khadijah Bint Khuwailad Businesswomen’s Center of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

This was done with the support of the Centre of Arab Women for Training and Research (CAWTAR) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Arab News said.

“This focus comes at a time when we are witnessing a rapid and increased investment in our country’s human resources and economic development,” said Princess Adelah Bint Abdullah, president, Al Sayedah Khadijah bint Khuwailad Businesswomen’s Center.

“Fundamental to this investment has been the inclusion of regulations that encourage greater involvement of women in our work force. The impact of this support can be seen through the growth, productivity and innovation of Saudi Arabia’s women-owned businesses. My wish is that this report will highlight the progress and determination of these businesswomen and serve as a foundation for researchers interested in the socioeconomic development of our beloved country.”

Source : Arabian Business