Trump means business: $380bn deals signed in Riyadh

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Saudi King Salman and US President Donald Trump take part in a signing ceremony at the Royal Court in Riyadh Saturday. (AFP)
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King Salman and US President Donald Trump sign the “Saudi-US Joint Strategic Vision Declaration” in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 21 May 2017

Trump means business: $380bn deals signed in Riyadh

RIYADH: Saudi-US deals worth at least $380 billion were struck on Saturday during the historic visit to Riyadh by US President Donald Trump, officials said. 

King Salman and Trump held high-level talks in the Saudi capital, where they co-signed the Saudi-US “Joint Strategic Vision Declaration,” as a series of defense, business and technology deals were agreed in the Saudi capital.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said that Trump’s visit marks “the beginning of a turning point” in relations with the Arab world.

Speaking at a press conference held with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson in Riyadh on Saturday, Al-Jubeir said that the strategic partnership agreement by King Salman and Trump would develop into a strong strategic partnership.

“The two countries have signed a series of agreements, both by private, commercial entities and inter-governmental, including on investment and infrastructure,” said Al-Jubeir.

“The value of the deals exceeds $380 billion; they will be executed over the next 10 years and will provide many opportunities both for the Kingdom and for the United States.”

Tillerson said that over 20 licenses were issued to large US companies helping direct investment between the two countries, which will result in the creation of thousands of jobs for Americans, an increase the purchase of US goods, equipment and technologies, and also benefit Saudi Arabia.

Defense played a key element in the myriad deals announced in Riyadh on Saturday.

Saudi Arabia and the US signed arms deals worth approximately $110 billion, the White House announced on Saturday.

Several other multi-billion-dollar deals were sealed at the inaugural Saudi-US CEO Forum, also held on Saturday.

They included a landmark $6 billion defense and armament agreement under a “letter of intent” to assemble 150 Lockheed Martin Black Hawk helicopters.

The agreement, which was revealed during the forum, is expected to support around 450 jobs in the Kingdom.

“At Lockheed Martin, we are proud to be part of this historic announcement that will strengthen the relationship between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Marillyn A. Hewson, chairman, president and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation.

“We are especially proud of how our broad portfolio of advanced global security products and technologies will enhance national security in Saudi Arabia, strengthen the cause of peace in the region, and provide the foundation for job creation and economic prosperity in the US and in the Kingdom. The agreements will directly contribute to His Majesty’s Vision 2030 by opening the door for thousands of highly skilled jobs in new economic sectors.”

Energy — one of Saudi Arabia’s strongest sectors — witnessed a number of announcements with a combined $22 billion worth of new deals signed during the forum by Saudi and American executives in the oil and gas industry.

A major funding boost for the largest oil refinery in the US was among a number of announcements in refining and petrochemicals signed on Saturday at the forum.

Amin Nasser, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco, said: “Today we are investing in long-term job creation and the future of the refining industry in the United States, and we are delivering on Vision 2030 to expand the US-Saudi partnership.

“The message is clear: the longstanding bonds between our two countries are reinforced by both the value and scale of today’s agreement.”

Following his participation in the forum, Nasser also announced several agreements with suppliers including Jacobs, Honeywell and McDermott.

French state-owned bank drops plan to aid trade with Iran

Updated 24 September 2018

French state-owned bank drops plan to aid trade with Iran

  • US-imposed sanctions sanctions iare making trade with Iran increasingly difficult for European companies - such as Volvo
  • US is renewing sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from a nuclear deal forged in 2015 between Tehran and world powers

PARIS: French state-owned bank Bpifrance has abandoned its plan to set up a mechanism to aid French companies trading with Iran, in the face of US sanctions against Tehran.
Earlier this year, the bank had said it was working on a project to finance French companies that wished to export goods to Iran despite US sanctions.
“It’s put on hold,” said Nicolas Dufourcq, Bpifrance’s chief executive. “Conditions are not met (...) Sanctions are punitive for companies.”
Bpifrance was working on establishing euro-denominated export guarantees to Iranian buyers of French goods and services. By structuring the financing through vehicles without any US link, Bpifrance thought it was possible to avoid the extraterritorial reach of US legislation.
Dufourcq’s latest comments show how the scope of the sanctions is making trade with Iran increasingly difficult for European companies.

Swedish truckmaker Volvo has been forced to stop assembling trucks in Iran as it can no longer get paid with US sanctions taking bite.
Volvo spokesman Fredrik Ivarsson said due to the sanctions Volvo could no longer get paid for any parts it shipped and therefore had taken the decision to not operate in Iran.
"With all these sanctions and everything that the United States put.. the bank system doesn't work in Iran. We can't get paid... So for now we don't have any business (in Iran)," he said.
The US is renewing sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from a nuclear deal forged in 2015 between Tehran and world powers. Washington reimposed some of the financial sanctions from Aug. 6, while those affecting Iran’s petroleum sector will come into force from Nov. 4.
Even though several European countries have said they are seeking to protect their companies from the sanctions, several major companies including oil company Total, Air France-KLM and British Airways have announced they would suspend activities in Iran.
German officials have in recent weeks advocated for the creation of an independent system for cross-border payments to make trade with Iran possible even with the US sanctions.
European Union diplomats have said US President Donald Trump’s positions on trade and on Iran were fueling a rethink about the EU’s dependency on the US financial system.
However, European countries appear to be struggling to find or agree on effective options to tackle the issue.