tv World Business Today CNN December 2, 2011 4:00am-5:00am EST
i'm zain vergee at cnn in london. here are the top stories. u.s. legislators have approved measures stopping u.s. companies from doing business with iran's central bank. they're punishing iran over its nuclear weapons program and for storming the british embassy in tehran. white house officials caution it could backfire because it will push up oil prices and do better to deter iran's nuclear ambitions. aung san suu kyi says she's confident the country is on the road to democracy. she spoke to reporters after holding a second round of talks with hillary clinton. the u.s. secretary of state has called myanmar's reforms a positive step. she warned they need to make more changes before the u.s.
will consider restoring diplomatic relations. jipgs wi s -- the militarys of egypt say they won't be ready until does he or sunday. democrats and republicans say an extension of the payroll tax cut will help the economy but can't agree on how to pay for it. the senate shot down proposals brought by both parties forcing more negotiations. those are the top stories from cnn, the world's news leader, i'm zain vergee and "world business today" starts now. happy friday and welcome to "wbt" i'm andrew stevens in hong kong. these are the top stories. time to make a change.
germany and france champion a major eu overhaul but differ on the details. it's all about jobs this friday. the big monthly nonfarm payroll number is out in a few hours from now. investors wait nervously. and mario monti nearly gets the wrong man. he's offered an italian cabinet position after a mix-up over names. s athese two european power players begin to see eye to eye, a plan to solve the european debt crisis appears to be starting to take shape. the french president nicolas sarkozy and the german chancellor, angela merkel will hold a crisis meeting on monday. details are unclear but they are expected to finalize proposals for stricter budget discipline. just a short while ago, ms. merkel explained some of the proposals she's making to members of her own parliament in berlin. she laid out her vision of a much more tightly integrated euro zone and said europe was on
the verge of a fiscal union. she ruled out the idea of issuing so-called eurobonds to spread risk more evenly among member states of the euro area and said there's no quick fix for the debt crisis. she said it's a process and that process will take years. the leaders of germany and france have frequently seemed to have been at odds over how to resolve the euro zone debt crisis. differences remain between the kind of integration they want to see europe pursue. when the french president nicolas sarkozy took the podium, his message was one of unity and determination. >> translator: at the heart of the european economy there must be a zone of stability and confidence, which is the engine of european competitiveness.
i will do everything and nothing less, to keep france and germany united together, wrapped in the fabric of stability and confidence so that this can safeguard europe. >> despite the united front presented by mr. sarkozy and ms. america, investors around the world are keeping an eye on developments in the euro zone as the urgency of resolving the debt crisis continues to grow. they'll also be looking across the atlantic to the u.s. where job numbers are due out later this day. we have more on that in just a moment. first let's take a look at what the markets in europe have been doing so far this day. and as you see, green arrows across the board once again for the euro markets. it's been a big week. if you look at the stocks 600 index we're on course to have the biggest weekly gain in the euro zone for about three years. up around 9% for that stock 600
index at the moment. you see the four big indices clearly over the 1% gains barrier. paris leading the way with 1.75%. if investors in europe seem less rattled by events in the euro zone than they have been in recent week, this man isn't leaving anything to chance. he's mervyn king, governor of the bank of england. he was asked on thursday if the uk has plans to handle a breakup of the euro zone. king would not be drawn on specifics but he did say the british government is bracing for all kinds of scenarios. >> the government together with the fsa and the bank of england are making contingency plans against my range of contingencies. i'm not going into detail as to what those are. we are making contingency plans. >> markets here in the asia-pacific region are closed for the week. most managed to lock in major gains from thursday after the
world's biggest central bank said they would be cutting the cost of borrowing u.s. dollars. investors taking a breather after the big rally on thursday. there is a little bit of profit-taking going on in shanghai, i see down a fraction. markets mostly up ahead, as i say, of that key jobless numbers. looking at the numbers now, the nikkei is up, up for two reasons, nikkei up about 0.5%. first reason, goldman sachs and ubs says tokyo's measures to recover from last year's earthquake and tsunami will push the nikkei higher next year. next, tokyo to unveil a fourth budget to keep the economy going. it's going to be at least $26 billion. the hang seng just a fraction in positive territory and the east in the green zone a few moments ago. shanghai as i said also down by more than 1%. that's the second day it's been underperforming.
it comes despite the news from beijing that they're going to loosen restrictions on bank lending. finally, the asx up 1.4%, despite s&p's downgrade one notch to aa minus. s&p changing criteria to better bank exposure to risk. now, on friday, the week in review, we've had great gains. let's take a look at some of these numbers here. great gains since that central bank action we saw on wednesday night. that was the u.s. time, starting here in australia. the asx 200 is the big winner, look at that, up 7.6 for the week. its best performance in three years. hong kong, strength up by 7.6%. japan, the nikkei up by virtually 6%. that's the best week it's had in two weeks. shanghai continues to underperform. it was down for week.
that's its fourth weekly loss in a row. looking ahead, we have the u.s. jobs number and we've also got that major eu summit one week from today. that is going to define what happens obviously in the markets in the short term. closing bell on wall street on thursday. after that stellar surge we saw on wednesday, u.s. stocks finishing virtually flat. concerns about the european debt crisis continue to dog the markets. they're never far away despite that central bank action to unblock the credit markets. we have positive u.s. economic data coming through yesterday showing retail sales and auto sales up in november. and by the close, that's what it looked like, not too bad considering the big, big gains from the day before. the dow and s&p both down just a fraction and the nasdaq up by around about the same amount. this is where the u.s. stock futures stand in the premarket action at the moment.
right now they look set for a stronger open. when trading begins later today. you'll see around about 1% gains. remember, the jobless numbers will play a spushl roll in what happens today in the u.s. of course, u.s. investors are looking ahead to that all-important monthly u.s. jobs number. comes out later today. a cnn money survey of economists forecast 110,000 jobs were added for the month of november. the u.s. unemployment rate is also expected to hold steady at around about 9%. that compares to the preliminary 80,000 jobs added the previous month. we'll break down there of the past six months. it's been a choppy ride as you can see there. it's very important to remember, you have to see jobless or jobs being created at a rate of north of 200,000 a month to start making a meaningful dent on that 9% unemployment rate. if you're a part of that 9% of unemployment in america, we may
have some -- i mean some -- good news for you. there's one industry with plenty of jobs to fill. they're looking to hire right now. we'll tell you where to apply a little later in the program. quite a few people in southern california didn't get into work on thursday after the infamous santa ana winds toppled trees and power lines. let's go to jen delgado at the cnn weather center. yesterday was officially the end of hurricane season yet we're getting hurricane-force winds. >> that's right. we're talking about those winds being excessively strong along that western coastline of the u.s. california. even over the last couple hours i've seen wind gusts up to 97 miles per hour. we're talking about 150 kph. as i show you, the area since yesterday has shrunk. we're talking about the advisory area. we have a high wind advisory in place for parts of california. you can still see areas. this is the area we're watching
because of the santa ana winds as you were saying. let's go to video. this is amazing video, just showing you the power of the winds. look how large those trees are. it actually snapped on a woman's home. we're talking about trees coming down, power lines have been coming down and flights have been diverted into and away from lax because of the bad weather conditions. we talk about these santa ana winds, the winds come down the mountains, they speed up and warm. as i take you back over, it also drops the relative humidity. that leads to an elevated fire danger. we're looking at this danger as we go into friday, the afternoon, we'll see the winds coming back onshore. that's going to bring an improvement. even as we go into the weekend we're looking at periods possibly of gusty conditions. i want to point out to you some of the winds, 156, 122. as you said, hurricane force. when you break that down, that's roughly 95 miles per hour in
some areas, 97. we look at a little bit rain. you can see the snow coming down through some areas but we're not expecting anything too significant right now to cause any travel delays. meanwhile across parts of europe they would like to see snow. this is a view of the alps. there's no snow there, andrew. and because we're dealing with really a severe drought through central as well as eastern parts of europe. that has led to the cancellation of many ski championships. and, of course, that has an economic effect. you can't see me. you can see me now. >> there you are. that has a huge economic effect. >> absolutely. >> i was talking to charles about this last week. he said usually the snow kicks off about the middle of december. >> right. >> i'm not going to put charles in the same league as you as a meteorologist. >> there should be snow up there. >> we shouldn't be expecting too much. >> there should be more snow out there, absolutely. >> i'll pass that on to charles.
>> i'll pass it on to him. i'll do your dirty work. >> thanks, jen. >> welcome. >> appreciate it. still ahead on "world business today," pressure builds on iran as the nation proceeds with its nuclear program. it's not just tehran that is set to suffer if the u.s. gets its way either. find out how a new congressional measure could hit cash-strapped european nations and make things pricier at the pump. imagine... one scooter or power chair that could improve your mobility and your life. one medicare benefit that, with private insurance, may entitle you to pay little to nothing to own it. one company that can make it all happen ... your power chair will be paid in full. the scooter store. hi i'm doug harrison. we're experts at getting you the power chair or scooter you need.
the waterfront there. welcome back. you're watching "world business today." doing business with iran has long been a tricky business, sanctions restrict trade and other economic activity. it may be about to get even more difficult if a plan to punish foreign institutions that deal with iran's central bank passes in the u.s. house of representatives. it passed the senate unanimously on thursday. the proposal is designed to put
pressure on iran to curb its nuclear power program which the u.s. suspects is a front for weapons development. the plan has already won the unanimous backing of the u.s. senate but the obama administration remains firmly opposed to it. barbara starr has more. >> reporter: the u.s. has long used sanctions to try to stop iran's cash flow for financing its nuclear efforts and support for terrorism. but now the administration is saying, not so fast. to a tough new bipartisan sanctions proposal from congress. the idea, target iran's central bank by cutting off u.s. banking with any foreign banks that bank with the iranians. much of the banking with iran is done to pay for iranian oil. the administration is considering action against iran's central bank but officials warn the congressional proposal could be a bad idea in today's fragile economy. >> it is a very, very powerful
threat. it is a threat to essentially for the commercial banks to end their ability to transact in the dollar and their ability really to function as major international financial institutions. >> reporter: according to opec, iran exports about 2.5 million barrels a day of crude oil, earning it more than $70 billion a year. countries around the world buying iranian oil pay for it through transactions conducted by the central bank of iran. for those countries -- >> it would say to them, if they continue to process oil transactions with the central bank of iran, their access to the united states can be terminated. >> reporter: such a sanction could trim world oil supplies and cut iran's ability to sell oil to european allies. but that, too, could backfire. western economies could be hurt by higher oil prices in reaction
to less supplies, plus those higher prices. >> which would mean that iran would, in fact, have more money to fuel its income ambitions, not necessary. >> we don't want to create a situation where we spook oil markets, we drive up the price and we inadvertently enriched the regime who would enjoy a massive windfall if that were to happen. >> reporter: administration officials have a dilemma. how badly do they want to hurt iran? and then possibly hurt americans more in the pocketbook in an election year? barbara starr, cnn, pentagon. meanwhile, europe is preparing its own sanctions against iran, possibly including an oil embargo as it tries to get the iranian government to give up its nuclear ambitions. it's hitting back at iran diplomatically following the ransacking of the british embassy in tehran earlier this week. jim spellman has the story. >> reporter: here at the iranian
embassy in london, irenian diplomats are packing their things after being ousted by the british government in retaliation for an attack on the british embassy in tehran earlier this week. now word of more sanctions, this time coming from the eu who have targeted 180 iranian companies and individuals for sanctions, they hope to ratchet up the pressure against them to eliminate an alleged nuclear weapons program. >> the council is outraged by the attack on the british embassy in tehran and utterly condemns it. it is a violation of the vienna convention. it deplores the decision to expel the british ambassador from tehran, the council considers these actions against the uk has actions against the european union as a whole. >> reporter: iran avoided a much more stiffer sanction, a complete oil embargo on their exports to the eu. this could potentially have a serious affect on their oil industry.
our understanding is that germany, britain, france, pushed for such an embargo but that greece objected. greece relies heavily on iran for oil imports. they say with their economy in such tough shape they couldn't afford such a sanction. the eu has left the door open for further sanctions and next week, heads of state will meet again in brussels where further sanctions could be explored. jim spellman, cnn, london. just ahead here on "world business today," the former italian prime minister silvio berlusconi returns to the spotlight as prosecutors call witnesses in the billionaire's underage sex trial. and find out why berlusconi's successor nearly ended up with a canadian college professor in his cabinet. neutrogena® t/gel shampoo defeats dandruff after just one use. t/gel shampoo. it works. neutrogena®.
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leaving court in hong kong on wednesday, a woman who's made a very tidy sum from a very messy situation. you're looking at florence who says she's delighted after walking away from her marriage to a property heir. she's walking away with $154 million. that's amount a judge determined was necessary for her to maintain her lifestyle. that's more than three times what heather mills received after splitting from paul mccartney.
anner is still rife at the source of european debt crisis. in a moment we'll examine the steps that need to be taken to resolve a problem that started in greece. first, we're heading to athens, tens of thousands took to the streets on thursday, angry that the most vulnerable greeks are paying the highest price under strict austerity measures. lindayn we have this report. >> reporter: they've joined forces in what is the first general strike under greece's new interim government, a government primarily formed to ensure that greece sticks to the necessary requirements of its lenders to prevent the country from defaulting on its debts. to the thousands marching across
greece, this recent change of government has made little difference. the general strike comes only days before the debate for the 2012 budget is to begin in parliament. and although it does show significant improvements that will see the budget deficit cut to about half and a primary surplus for the first time, it is accompanied by severe austerity in a country which will empty taxpayers pockets by billions of euros. they're asking their government and its lenders to do more to promote growth. cnn, athens, greece. it may have all started in greece but the euro zone's financial woes have spread, as we know, across much of the continent now. ali rhen says it all needs to be
sorted out by this time next week. in an address to parliament in the past hour, the german chancellor, angela merkel reiterated the need for greater budgetary constraints across the euro zone. with several pieces of puzzle still missing or not yet in place there could still be some way to go. jim moulden looks at how to put the jigsaw together. >> reporter: what are the pieces to the puzzle? what are the pieces to the jigsaw that would have to come together in order for there to be a fiscal union in europe? let's start with the stability pact, this idea that the governments would agree to tighter fiscal union, tighter oversight of their budgets and deficits and there would be penalties for countries that use the euro if they don't follow the rules. those would be strict penalties. that's what germany wants to see. that's what could come out between any meeting between france and germany between now and next week. a lot of analysts would like to
see various things. there are hints that they would step in and do more once there was tighter fiscal union rules or at least a commitment to tighter rules. what would that mean for bonds? in the bond marketing with we're talking a lot about the bond yields. we have james bonn for eurobonds. there could be a single european bond for all the euro zone countries that would be down the road. one bown bond would mean one fiscal union. what does that do to the european treaty? the lisbon treaty changes would have to come. that could be complicated. the governments may try to find a way to change the way they work, tighter fiscal union, without having to open the treaty. jim bolden, cnn, london. the trial of the former
italian prime minister, silvio berlusconi continue in milan. berlusconi faces allegations that he tried to pull strings to get her out of jail when arrested for theft. he resigned last month over italy's debt crisis bringing an end to a political career of almost two decades. often marred by scandal and controversy. you're watching "world business today." we'll be back in just a moment.
we're live in hong kong. happy friday. let's take a quick look at what's going on in europe right now. the markets are about 90 minutes into their trading day. it's all -- it has been positive. the xetra dax turning negative. the broader index, which is the stock 600 index, on course to get gains -- or have gains around about 9% if they can hold these levels which would make it the best week in europe for something like three years. in asia be with the major indices also finishing broadly higher, shanghai the odd one out, down by 1%. a little bit of follow-through suggests optimism remains in markets here in asia. speaking of optimism, u.s. investors are also showing signs of optimism ahead of the u.s. monthly jobs number. that's out in about four hours from now. always a big number. this is where the futures are. they've increased steadily over the last 30 minutes or so.
the nasdaq showing a gain month are than 1%. there's certainly been a lot of doom and gloom in recent months about the state of the u.s. jobs market. it may be a case of not looking in the right place. the consulting firm deloitte says 80% of u.s. manufacturers are facing a shortage of skilled workers and are looking to hire. one company in new jersey is in just that position. take a look. >> the job begins here. i'm ryan fluker. i'm the plant manager in jackson, new jersey. >> these are plastic parts here. we do several thousand a year. this is one of our new pieces of equipment. put it in in august. it helped our production. we really turned an upswing this summer. all of a sudden someone turned all the lights on again and we're running. manufacturing is very strong right now. every shop we deal with as a lack of skilled work help that they could be putting more work out of their doors right now. they can't get the help to
produce it. >> i look at some of the opportunities we had in the past couple of months, we probably could have hired six or eight and run two shifts. getting those people, it's impossible. they're all guys my age that are starting to get out of the business and it's making it really, really tough. this is al. he's one of our longest employees. he did try to retire this year? >> last year. >> last year he tried to retire and we decided that's just not going to happen. we need good, quality, skilled help. al was forced out of retirement and he gets to work till the day he dies just like the rest of us. >> it's a culture right now that machine shops are still dirty, dingy, nonhigh-tech. you don't need many skills to do it, which is quite the opposite. the machine shops in america are getting more high-tech, cleaner, making more precise parts and doing more wild stuff than ever before. most kids think everything is made out of this country, which
is quite contrary. they think everything is made in china or india and that's not the case. if they want to go into manufacturing, they learn the trade and they're good at it, they will always have a job. there's always going to be a need for things manufactured in this country, in my foreseeable future. >> we need people getting involved in the machining industry so that people like al can relax in their golden years and not have to work. >> some hope then in all the jobs gloom. we are expecting a job creation number of around about 110,000 for the month of november. for more on the state of u.s. jobs market and the breakdown of the numbers when they come out of it later, don't miss the second edition of "world business today." we'll be speaking to the u.s. labor secretary, hilda solis about her outlook for u.s. employment. that's at 10:00 p.m. here, 9:00 a.m. in new york. once the lights go up, it doesn't take long for the festive spirit to turn into a
shopping frenzy, be it on the high street or online. ebac h krxc -- ebay has opened p store. don't forget your smartphone. >> reporter: we couldnnt down t christmas. you can go online and peruse with patience. there are three rooms, one filled with brand new products for men, for women and another for the whole family. and not one cash register to be seen. and no cash registers means no cues. all you have to do is use your smartphone or if you don't have one, they have tablets in the store. click on the ebac icon, press the scan button, take one of the labels, the quick response code.
it takes you straight to the ebay website where you can find out how much it costs, browse, change colors and pay for what you want. >> and they'll be delivered straight to your door. with 5.8 million shoppers expected to logon to the ebay this sunday, ebay forecasts that every minute 120 gifts will be bought using a smart phone and qr code. >> the line between shopping in a shop and shopping on the internet is getting very, very blurred. that's what this ebay christmas boutique is all about. the way we buy things have changed in the last three, four years. >> reporter: the ebay pop-up store is open for five days until december 5th, one of the busiest christmas shopping periods. >> it's nice to come in and have a look to see what you want to buy. >> it's nice not to have to
worry about lugging bags around and actually not having to deal with cueing up and going through the retail process. that's quite nice. i could see myself shopping like this more frequently. >> reporter: whether it's just a little something or too big to carry home, ebay's qr coded shop could be just the thing for some. but it's only open for a limbed time, then it's back to shopping on the web or dodging the crowds. cnn, london. let's take a quick recap of our top story, a plan to solve the european debt crisis appears to be starting to take shape. just a short while ago, the german chancellor, angela merkel explained some of the proposals she's making to members of her own parliament in berlin. she laid out her vision of a much more tightly regulated euro zone and said europe was on the verge of launching a fiscal union. basically that means where national governments would
surrender their economic policy-making powers to eu institutions. but she ruled out the idea of a fixing the continental debt crisis by using a euro zone bond. she said, quote, it's a process and that process will take years. now she said -- okay. let's move along now to a fascinating story coming from italy. just as we're hoping for long-lasting confidence in european governments, well basically we've seen a comedy of errors in italy. the government wanted to appoint franco braga as its new minister for agriculture. a quick congratulatory phone call and a few signatures and would have all been done, you think. not so. italian authorities contacted someone else, a business professor at the university of
gwelth, in canada, about 7,000 kilometers away. this is the business department's web page and this man is italy's agriculture minister, the man they said would bring added value to the role. the reason for the mix-up, this man here, his man is francesco braga, pretty close to the man they actually wanted, franco braga. that's all we have time for from me. i'll be back with more business news. the opening bell on wall street and the all-important u.s. jobs number in a little over four hours from now. thanks for joining me, i'm andrew stevens in hong kong. "marketplace middle east" is next.
this week on "marketplace middle east," sanctions on syria, the arab league votes to impose sanctions on syria while neighboring lebanon takes a step back. we speak with the lebanese minister of trade and economy to discuss the impact on his country. and egypt heads to the polls as the country goes to the ballot boxes for the first time since the fall of hosni mubarak. 19 arab league nations voted to impose diplomatic and economic sangs in the government of bashar al assad this week. the sanctions imposed by the arab league banned travel by officials to arab states and freeze their assets in arab states as well. stop league members from doing business with the syrian central bank. it halts trade deals except for strategic products that affect
the syrian people, frees syrian government assets and stop financial dealings with the syrian government overall. syrian's foreign minister responded to the arab league sanctions saying they will not have the impact the league intended and said they target ordinary citizens. >> translator: sanctions is a two-way street. what damages us hurts us and will hurt the jordanians. we are one nation, shall i say, and it panes me in the heart. we have to protect the syrians, the interest the syrian people. >> but not everyone is in support of these measures. two of syria's biggest trading partners, iraq and lebanon stayed out of the process entirelily. in 2010, lebanon was syria's trading partner. i spoke with the minister of economy and trade. >> regarding what's happening in
syria, we just decide ed -- the government decided to -- itself from what's happening. this is the best way we thought in the government we can keep the reaction and the action towards lebanon on the minimum level of uncertainty. >> in fact, some would say you're allowing syria to have two escape hatches, one through lebanon and the other one through iraq which chose not to participate in the vote as well. that's a fair criticism? >> i think that's a supposition. that doesn't mean when there's a decision on syria it will not apply. >> how tough are the sanctions? they're limiting flights into arab countries, limiting transactions. will they get the business communities of damascus to come off the fence and go against president assad? >> let's put things clear. the sanctions are related to the
business -- the syrian government. nothing to do with the private sector. in lebanon, we don't have, as government in business terms with the syrian government. i don't think we'll have a real impact or an impact actually. >> the spillover effect into your economy because of the unrest in syria, how much impact is it going to have at the end of 2011 and 2012? >> there is two sides of the relation with syria. there's a commercial relation where our relation with syria on the commercial side is about 6% of our export to syria. that could be handle. this is not a big impact. if it comes to be disrupted for any reason, that will have a huge impact on us. the tourism from lebanon, coming from our country, this kind of activity is not reduced and
tremendously reduced. that will have an impact on the tourism activity we have with syria and arab countries. so we are feeling the heat. we are trying to see how we can -- ourself. lebanon has enough problem to have another one on its shoulder. >> the u.n. is suggesting that we're seeing crimes against humanity with the killings we've seen in syria right now. should the region stand by? should lebanon be standing by and watching that unfold in that way without taking action? >> sitting 10,000 kilometer away, 5,000 kilometer away it's easy to take, let's say, action or whatever it is. we are close, we are very close and whatever happen, it will have an impact. so let's be wise, let's be realistic, let's be pragmatic. >> could we see syria make an about-face here and allow arab
observers to come on its soil to see if you can reach a peaceful ending to this after all the turmoil? >> i think that will be a wise step ahead. this is what they have asked. if it happens, it will perhaps ease the tension and perhaps be a good step forward. >> so what kind of economic impact are we looking at here for syria? according to the european commission, these are syria's top five trading partners, together they account for more than 58% of syria's trade. four of them either have, will or could cut trade ties with damascus. let's start with the european union. it imposed a ban of impart of syrian oil. in the number two position is iraq, $5.3 billion. it chose to stay out of the arab league vote though it may still commit to imposing sanctions. let's go over to saudi arabia. the trade level, $3.5 billion. it's the third largest partner. it voted this week to support
the sanctions by the arab league. next is china. it counts for 7% of syria's total with that number coming in at $2.74 billion. china has blocked any efforts with be though, by the u.n. security council to impose punishments on syria. that leaves turkey, the number five position, at $2.65 billion. turkey atened itted the arab league meeting as an observer and followed the league's decision with its own sanctions, including suspending all financial dealings with the country and freezing syrian government assets. meanwhile, iran has retaliated for sanctions imposed by the uk by voting to expel the british ambassador and reduce diplomatic relations with the country. following the vote, hundreds of irenian students attacked the embassy, storming the site and burning documents. britain calls the incident utterly unacceptable and warns of serious consequences. >> the united kingdom takes this irresponsible action extremely seriously. it amounts to a grave breach of
the vienna convention which requires the protection of diplomats and diplomatic pr iic premises under all circumstances. we hold the iranian government responsible. >> the iraqi government signed a $17 billion contract with royal dutch shell and mitsubishi this week. the project aims to capture natural gas that's being flared away at oil fields in the south of the country. up next on "marketplace middle east," we take a look at egypt, once thriving tourism sector and its historic election. i have astigmatism. so my old contact lenses would sometimes move out of place and blur my vision. my eye doctor said there's great news for people with astigmatism. acuvue® oasys for astigmatism. he said it's the only lens of its kind designed to realign naturally with every blink and created with hydraclear® plus. i'm seeing more clearly, crisply, comfortably, all day long.
election since president hosni mubarak stepped down earlier this year. the election is not only important for social stability, it's vital to the country's economic future. leoni lakhani takes a closer look. >> reporter: sailing tourists along the nile has been ramsey's family trade for decades. today his only customers are us. >> before revolution and 300 people, maybe 400 people. and after revolution, 30 or 40 people come in a week. >> reporter: hani says he supported the revolution. today he yearns for stability. business is down it a trickle. egypt is all about the hustle and bustle, the nile has had centuries of traffic, ferries, tour boats going up and down the nile. ever since the revolution it's noticeably much quieter. hani and countless others spend
much of their days in the harbor, the lucrative tourist dollar that accounted for 11% of europe's gdp is almost nonexistent, a vital source of jobs and foreign currency. across cairo, in the this district, now baron pavements and shops boarded and shut. this perfume business is 120 years old but this is the first time he's struggled for clients. >> business is very, very slow and no tourists. a little tourists, about 3%. >> reporter: just outside, mohammed sits patiently, filling his jars with colored sand as he's done for the past ten years. as the sands of time tick on, no one stops to buy. the plight of mohammed and the
others is now all too common. concerns about security and uncertainty have fended off not just tourists but foreign investors. foreign currency reserves have fallen steadily, down almost 40% this year. >> the country is bleeding. egypt is bleeding financially. it's bleeding foreign reserves, it's bleeding the stock exchange, it's bleeding tourism and unemployment. the bleeding has to stop. uncertainty has to be dealt with. >> reporter: a lack of confidence in the economy has led to a downgrade in egypt's credit rating. as egyptians went to the polls for the first time since the fall of mubarak, it's clear that change is upon them. yet hani, mohammed and fellow egyptians now understand change and transition are not without challenges and trials. leoni lakhani for "marketplace middle east," cairo. for more about the program,