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SnapshotsSep 25, 2020 | 17:42 GMT
In Kuwait, a Blocked Debt Law Portends a Dissolved Parliament
Kuwait’s pandemic-related financial struggles may force its leader, Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, to bypass the country’s legislative process in order to push through a crucial debt law that remains locked in parliament. The need to enact other overdue reforms may also tempt Al Sabah to extend a potential parliamentary suspension -- a politically risky move that would also require suspending Kuwait's constitution. On Sept. 23, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Kuwait's sovereign credit rating for the first time to “A1,” citing the country's liquidity crisis that has been brought on by low oil prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In its announcement, Moody’s also specifically referenced the Kuwaiti government’s failure to pass a debt law that would help mitigate the country’s current financial woes by enabling its finance ministry to issue sovereign bonds.
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SnapshotsSep 24, 2020 | 19:59 GMT
COVID-19 Tests Jordan’s Stability
Jordan’s deteriorating social and economic conditions due to COVID-19 are driving support to Islamist parties, raising the risk of a government crackdown that could fan the flames of radicalism. Despite recording fewer than 5,000 COVID-19 cases since March, Jordan has taken a strict lockdown approach, with tight border controls and restricted incoming arrivals for tourist locations. The subsequent impact on business activity, and in particular tourism revenue (which accounts for nearly 20 percent of Jordan’s GDP), has in turn taken a steep toll country’s economy, with unemployment now expected to hit an all-time high of 25 percent by the end of this year. 
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On GeopoliticsSep 24, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A model of a customs road sign is seen at the mock U.K.-EU border, with a mock Big Ben in the background, at the Mini-Europe theme park in Brussels, Belgium, on May 20, 2020.
Why EU-U.K. Trade Talks Feel Like Brexit Deja Vu
If the current tensions in the trade talks between the United Kingdom and the European Union feel like a repetition of the 2019 disputes, when Britain negotiated its exit from the bloc, it’s because they are. Once more, a no-deal Brexit looms on the horizon, because unless Brussels and London reach an agreement, bilateral trade will happen under World Trade Organization tariffs starting next year. Like last year, both sides are exchanging threats and accusing each other of acting in bad faith. And, in the most notable deja vu from 2019, the status of Northern Ireland has reemerged as an obstacle to a deal. The explanation for this situation is simple: there are fundamental issues that the arrangements of 2019 left unresolved and have come back to jeopardize the negotiations in 2020. 
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SnapshotsSep 22, 2020 | 22:24 GMT
Reading the Fine Print of Angola’s Debt Restructuring
The International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s recently announced $1 billion disbursement to Angola is based partly on China indicating a willingness to defer 2020 debts. But Beijing's creditor role may be complicated by possible efforts to take an equity stake in some of the Southern African country's oil fields. And while the funds will help fill some of Angola's financing gaps, there is clearly a market view that the country may require more comprehensive debt restructuring, even if it doesn't happen until 2021 or later. 
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