With more than 200 Saudi and Russian business leaders and officials in attendance, the forum opened with a speech by Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, who called the event “historic” in light of King Salman’s first visit to Russia.
Bilateral relations “are getting to a fundamentally new level,” Novak said, adding that a joint committee had been formed “to help remove trade barriers that hinder enhancing joint ventures and projects.”
One of the most important agreements signed was on scientific and technological cooperation.
Novak announced the establishment of joint scientific and research centers, saying Russia and Saudi Arabia “have great potential in this field of bilateral development.”
There are also good prospects for cooperation in the fields of shipbuilding, the aluminum industry, water purification, food security, and oil and gas, he added.
It was announced that Russia and Saudi Arabia will establish a joint investment fund. “The $1 billion Russian-Saudi energy investment fund, which focuses on lucrative investment opportunities in Russian oil and gas production, is a good example of how we’re cooperating together and boosting our joint corporate alliances,” said Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of the Russian Federation.
Majed Al-Qasabi, Saudi minister of commerce and investment, informed the audience that seven agreements were signed and four Russian firms will be given licenses to operate in the Kingdom.
“We’ve set up a plan to meet Vision 2030, including renewing energy and upgrading military industries,” he said.
Ibrahim Al-Omar, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), said: “We’re working on improving the level of FDI (foreign direct investment) to the Kingdom by attracting more investments. We’re working to give the private sector a bigger share in the market.”
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said bilateral cooperation in the last two years has benefited the oil market by stabilizing prices.
“It has breathed back life into OPEC (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), which found itself… unable to swing its production as supply was persistently high in 2014 and global inventories were steadily rising ahead of demand,” he added.
“The deal reached between OPEC and non-OPEC countries in November 2016 in Vienna notably helped to stabilize oil prices.”
During the forum, three Russian and three Saudi companies signed cooperation agreements on petrochemicals, trade and phosphates.
The plenary session was followed by panel discussions on bilateral investments, industry and localization, agriculture and food security.
Participants exchanged views on prospects for cooperation in these fields, and shared their experiences and future plans.