New car sales in Lebanon took a severe hit in 2019 as the number of registered vehicles plunged by 33.4 percent compared to the same period of 2018, according to data compiled by the Association of Car Importers. The association said that registered passenger cars stood at 21,991 in 2019, falling by 33.4 percent from a total of 33,012 in 2018.It attributed this decline in new car sales to the prevailing macro situation in Lebanon, the suspension of car loans, impossibility of opening documentary credits to import cars and spare parts, increase of interest rates, difficulty of converting cash collected in Lebanese pounds into U.S. dollars in the bank to pay the suppliers and the risk of seeing thousands of employees losing their job.In a look at the regions, Japanese cars took over the highest share of newly registered cars in 2019 with a total of 8,630, down by 35.7 percent from 2018. Korean cars took over the second place with a total of 5,495 cars, down from 9,357 cars in 2018.European cars took over the third place with a total of 5,023 cars in 2019, down by a yearly 21.8 percent.
Korea’s Kia ranked first in terms of new car registration during 2019, with a total of 3,205 cars against a total of 5,012 cars during the previous year.It was followed by Japan’s Toyota with a total of 2,479 newly registered cars in 2019, against 4,155 cars in 2018.Japan’s Nissan came in the third position with a total of 2,349 newly registered cars in 2019, compared to 3,995 cars registered in 2018. These were followed by Korea’s Hyundai with a total of 2,272 newly registered cars in 2019, compared to a total of 4,319 cars registered in the year earlier.
Source: The Daily Star.
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While addressing for the first time members of the diplomatic corps at Auberge de Castille in Valletta, the newly appointed Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela declared that the institutional reforms will be a top priority to enhance the rule of law and good governance in the country. Referring to Malta’s relations within the European Union, Robert Abela declared that he is ready to work with the President of the European Council Charles Michel and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. Robert Abela referred to the civil rights in Malta, and said that the country strengthened its top ranking on the International Lesbian and Gay Association-Europe Rainbow Map. “With an overall rating of 94%, Malta remains the leading European country in protecting LGBTIQ people in areas of equality and non-discrimination, hate crime, hate speech, legal gender recognition and bodily integrity, civil society space and asylum”. The Maltese Prime Minister referred to the turmoil in Libya, and declared that the government of Malta believes that only through diplomatic initiatives rather than military intervention, there will be a solution to the conflict and the political crises. “Malta continues to stress the need for a comprehensive and durable ceasefire, the effective implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution imposing an arms embargo on Libya, and for the strengthening of the mandate of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya. We must achieve results, for the benefit of the Libyan people first and foremost, and for regional peace, security, stability and prosperity.” Abela declared that under his leadership, Malta with its geographical position in the Mediterranean will be a bridge-builder between countries and will take an active role in international fora.
He spoke about the present situation in the Middle East with particular reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the war in Syria. “Malta reiterates its long-standing position in support of a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, as well as a commitment to the parameters established by the United Nations security council resolution.” Referring to Syria, the Maltese Prime Minister spoke about the importance of ensuring the unity and the territorial sovereignty of the Syrian state, together with the welfare of the Syrian people. Malta is expected to open its first new embassy in Japan, with Prime Minister Abela declaring this is an example on how Malta is putting more effort to consolidate further its bilateral relationships. Infact he mentioned that Malta is considering the possibility of opening its first diplomatic mission in Latin America. He concluded his speech by declaring that Malta whose aspirations are that of promoting peace, prosperity and equality, will be seeking election as a non-permanent member of the United Nations security council for the term 2023-2024.
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Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela announced that the Interior Ministry had received the resignation of police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar. Abela confirmed that he had been informed of this resignation by Minister Byorn Camilleri. During the last weeks, there were calls from the Nationalist Opposition and the civil society for the resignation of Lawrence Cutajar after he failed to investigate alleged corruption cases involving among others, ex Minister Konrad Mizzi and ex Chief of Staff in the Prime Minister’s Office, Keith Schembri.
Prime Minister Abela explained that in his resignation letter, Cutajar stated that the change of prime minister calls for a change in the leadership of the police force so that the new prime minister can begin to implement the desired reform of the police force.
While praising the police force, Abela mentioned several investigations by the police, among them the case involving the murder of the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. He referred to the good work that the police had done in a very short time to investigate and arrest several people related to the murder. Abela said that this resignation will start the beginning of the reform in the police force which is an important body in the country regarding law enforcement. He explained that after the resignation of Lawrence Cutajar, senior police officer Carmelo Magri, was appointed as acting police commissioner. In the meantime, Abela said he will present a new system on the selection of the police commissioner. He said this will be a serious and transparent method, and confirmed that the new government is ready to listen to the views of the nationalist opposition.
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The new Labour cabinet was sworn in this afternoon in an official ceremony presided over by the President of the Republic of Malta George Vella at the Presidential Palace in Valletta.
The new cabinet is composed of 17 ministers, excluding the prime minister himself, and eight parliamentary secretaries, for a total of 26 members. They were selected in the last hours by the new Prime Minister Robert Abela. Chris Fearne remains the deputy prime minister responsible for the ministry of health.
According to the Maltese Prime Minister, the decisions are based on the priority that Malta continues to move forward with a sense of continuity and to bring about the necessary reforms. “The new government recognizes the country’s economic success and confirms the government’s determination to address the most genuine aspirations and social improvement of the communities”.
Sectors such as social housing, national heritage, consumer rights and animal rights have been raised at ministerial level. Justice, good governance, the environment and planning have been consolidated into a single ministry, while the law enforcement is part of the home affairs and national security ministry. European and foreign affairs are part of a single ministry to implement Malta’s commitments abroad more effectively.
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As today marks the first working day for the new Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela, he called a number of Labour Party parliamentarians in his office in Auberge de Castille. The new Cabinet is expected to be announced on Wednesday.
In his first address to the Maltese nation, the new Prime Minister Robert Abela appealed to all Maltese to work hand in hand towards the improvement of the country. He emphasized his vision “to work harder so that no one is left behind in society”.
He promised to serve the Maltese nation with humility, and declared that his priorities and aspirations are the same of the Maltese society. Without referring to the present political situation which prompted the resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Robert Abela promised that he will work hard so that Malta will overcome all obstacles and fears.
Before the televised address to the nation, the new Prime Minister met with the Labour Parliamentary Group for the first time under his leadership. The meeting took place a short time after Abela was sworn in as Prime Minister of Malta in a ceremony which was held at the Presidential Palace in Valletta. Robert Abela emphasized that the Labour parliamentary group should continue its work “because there is much work to be done for the country to continue moving forward”.
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Robert Abela won the election for the post of leader of the Malta Labour Party. This means that he will also become the Prime Minister of Malta. In a short message to the media, Dr Robert Abela said “with today’s vote, the Labour Party has won”.
Robert Abela acquired 57.9% of the votes, with his opponent Chris Fearne gained 42.1%. There were 16,216 party members who voted in the election that on Saturday evening. The turnout was 92.5%.
Robert Abela was born in June 1977 and graduated as a lawyer. He worked in a legal along with his father. He also served as legal advisor to various governmental bodies and private entities. He was elected to Parliament for the first time in 2017. Abela is married to Lydia, the Executive Secretary of the Labour Party, and is the son of President Emeritus George Abela.
In a tweet, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat who is expected to resign tomorrow, congratulated Robert Abela on being elecyed as the new Labour Party leader. “Proud to be handing over Rober Abela, Malta’s Prime Minister Office on Monday.” Muscat also thanked Chris Fearne for his excellent contribution to the Labour Party and the country.
Joseph Muscat was forced to resign last month amid pressure over the Maltese government’s handling of a probe into the murder of the investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Muscat announced he would step down on December 1, but delayed his departure by over a month to allow his Labour Party to elect a new leader.
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The first commercial deal for the EastMed pipeline was signed in Athens between Greece’s Public Gas Corporation (Depa) and Energean, ahead of the intergovernmental agreement between Cyprus, Greece and Israel. Depa and Energean concluded a Letter of Intent for the potential sale and purchase of 2 billion cubic metres of natural gas for year from Energean’s gas fields offshore Israel, where the company is investing $1.7 billion for the development of the Karish & Tanin fields. According to a joint press release, “additional details, including terms, delivery points, gas composition, the shipper of the EastMed pipeline etc. will also be agreed and detailed in the Gas Sales Purchase Agreement. Constantinos Xifaras, CEO of Depa, stated: “With the agreement we have signed we are taking a decisive step for the project’s commercial viability and its realization. With the present LoI, Depa expresses its intention to buy 2 BCM of gas, which corresponds to 20 percent of the EastMed’s initial capacity. Thus, a major producer of East Mediterranean gas (Energean) and a key distributor of gas in South East Europe (Depa) are joining forces to ensure the success of the pipeline”. For his part Mathios Rigas, CEO of Energean, said: “The agreement with Depa is an important development in the context of the EastMed pipeline project, which now has not only the support of governments and the EU but is also attracting commercial interest from buyers and sellers of gas in the region. The EastMed pipeline provides Energean with another monetization route for its strategy to fully utilize the Energean Power FPSO that has an 8 bcm/year capacity and further allows us to continue the exploration and development of our nine licenses offshore Israel”.
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Spanish fruit and vegetable exports are expected to hover around 13.5 million tonnes in 2019, representing 8% and 10% growth over the previous year. In value, the figure will reach 13,400 million euros (+ 5%), according to estimates by Fepex (Spanish Federation of associations of fruit and vegetable exporting producers), based on official data in October 2019 and forecasts for the months of November and December. By categories, vegetable exports will reach 5.5 million tons, with an estimated increase of 3.9%. The turnover will exceed 5,500 million euros (+ 7% compared to the previous year). From the analysis by segments, Fepex observes a positive evolution in volume in the generality of products, highlighting, however, the drop in tomato exports attributable to the strong competition from Morocco and the lengthening of the countryside by other Community producer countries, mainly the Netherlands, with high-tech greenhouses. The vegetables that grew the most in volume were: bell peppers, with 622,922 tons and 8.5% more than in 2018, cucumber, with 489,666 tons (+ 9%) and cabbage, with 388,520 tons (+ 20%).
As for fruit, it is assumed that Spain will export eight million tons, 12% more than in 2018, for a value exceeding 7,700 million euros (+ 3%). According to FEPEX, the data estimated for 2019 reflect an overall positive evolution, even if the analysis by subsectors and characteristics of farms highlights different behaviors within the category. Citrus fruits and fruit on the bone (peach, nectarine, plum, apricot and cherry) are the main products sold abroad, with one million tons and a 9% increase. Watermelon follows, with 904,896 tons (+ 5.5%) and, at a distance, red fruits 290,605 tons (+ 5%).
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The Malta Football Association announces the appointment of Devis Mangia as national teams’ head coach. The Italian has signed a contract until 31st December 2023. Mangia, who obtained his UEFA Pro licence from the Italian FA’s Technical Centre in Coverciano, will take up his new role with immediate effect. Aged 45, Mangia has coached both at club and international level, managing a number of Italian clubs since starting his coaching career in 2004, including several Serie A, B and Lega Pro clubs. His last coaching job was with CS Universitatea Craiova in Romanian top division. Bjorn Vassallo, the Malta FA President, expressed his satisfaction at Mangia’s appointment as national coach. “I’m very pleased that Devis Mangia has accepted our offer to become national team’s head coach responsible for defining a common game philosophy for all our national team selections in line with the Association’s strategy,” Vassallo said. “Devis is a young and energetic coach who already has a wealth of experience, both in club football and at international level, notably with the Italy Under-21 side whom he led to the final of the 2013 UEFA Under-21 Championship. “Our discussions with Devis further strengthened our conviction that he is the right coach to manage our national team and to lead the technical overhaul which we are undertaking in the coming months. “His vision and football philosophy fit with our plans to improve the performance and results of our national teams, including the project to enter a professional club in the Italian Lega Pro. Devis’s knowledge of Italian football and his coaching experience, having worked at different levels of the Italian league structure, will be an asset for us in this context”. In his first reaction after the signing of the agreement at the Malta FA head-quarters Mangia said: “ I am very happy to have reached this agreement with the Malta FA. The project presented to me is a very ambitious one and I am confident that with hard work and dedication together we can significantly improve the level of Maltese football”. Coach Mangia will be presented to the local media in early January 2020.
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During a meeting held on Thursday 26 December 2019 between the Tunisian Union of Agriculture and Fisheries (UTAP) and the Committee on Agriculture and Food Safety of the Assembly of Citizens’ Representatives (ARP), it was decided to speed up the preparation of a legislative initiative later this year to save the rest of the olive harvest season. UTAP President Abdelmajid Zaar said the move would allow the National Oil Board (ONH) to purchase oil at production cost to save the farmers and improve the product. According to the union, the total losses of the olive season amount to over 750 million dinars, as well as other serious repercussions of the delay in harvesting on the quality and crops of next year. The ONH will sell olive oil at a price of 5,6 Dt per liter from Monday 30 December. Sales operations will take place in regional centers under the Office oil from Tunis, Sousse, Kairouan, Sfax and Zarzis.
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