Sunday, February 5, 2017

Germany's surplus is on the wane; Middle East & North Africa growth accelerates; World's longest commercial flight starts operations

1 Germany’s surplus is on the wane (Gulf News) The Trump administration appears intent on escalating the long-standing US practice of attacking Germany’s current-account surplus. Good news for those on the receiving end: It has probably peaked.

As officials like National Trade Council director Peter Navarro rail against the trade imbalance that dominates the balance of payments between the two countries, pensioners, homebuyers and immigrants are quietly working to bring that $297 billion current-account surplus down.

According to research by Deutsche Bank, demographics and a housing boom are two factors that will drive the current account balance — the difference between what a country earns from abroad and what it spends — to its lowest level in seven years by 2020.

A rising share of pensioners in the German population, who normally have less money to save than people in jobs, will crimp household savings rates, while an increasing number of immigrants such as refugees will contribute to boosting German imports.

2 Middle East & North Africa growth accelerates (Muzaffar Rizvi in Khaleej Times) Economic activity in the Middle East and North Africa showed surprising resilience in 2016 despite mounting political and economic headwinds in the region, says a report.

According to the latest Focus Economics Consensus forecast, the region's aggregate gross domestic product expanded 2.7 per cent in 2016, up from 2015's 2.6 per cent due to diverging economic trends within the Mena.

Another positive note for 2016 was Iraq's economic rebound following 2015's dismal performance. Accommodative monetary policies and improving external positions due to low oil prices prompted growth in most of the region's net oil importers to accelerate this year.

The report noted that GCC countries felt the brunt of the pain in 2016. The low oil price environment since mid-2015 forced GCC countries to implement harsh austerity measures in order to rein in their soaring budget deficits.

About the region's biggest economy Saudi Arabia, the report said kingdom is expected to perform below par, with an expansion rate of less than one per cent. On the rest of the major economies in the region, Egypt and Qatar will likely grow the fastest, with projected expansions of 3.4 per cent.

3 World’s longest commercial flight starts operations (The Guardian) The world’s longest commercial flight landed in New Zealand on Monday with the arrival of Qatar Airways’s 14,535km (9,032-mile) Doha-Auckland service.

The long-range Boeing 777-200LR crossed 10 time zones on its marathon flight. Qatar Airways noted the flight was longer than the entire “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies which were filmed in New Zealand.

There were four pilots on board as well as 15 cabin crew who served 1,100 cups of tea and coffee, 2,000 cold drinks and 1,036 meals during the flight. New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay said the estimated economic impact of the new service “will be well in excess” of $36m with the increased freight capacity provided.

In March last year, Emirates airline launched what was then thought to be the world’s longest non-stop scheduled commercial flight, with a service from Dubai to Auckland, spanning 14,200kms (8,824 miles). Air India’s Delhi-San Francisco flight claims the world’s longest by flying distance but when measured on the surface of the earth Doha and Auckland are further apart.

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