SAGIA aims to get Kingdom in top 20 for ease of doing business by 2020

Saudi Arabia is introducing measures to improve the speed and ease of doing business in the Kingdom. (Getty)
Updated 03 May 2018
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SAGIA aims to get Kingdom in top 20 for ease of doing business by 2020

  • Kingdom has introduced new laws on arbitration and insolvency and plans to speed up the business visa process
  • “We are a model for the whole world in how to improve the business environment," says SAGIA chief

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia wants to be in the top 20 countries measured by “ease of doing business” by 2020, the head of the Kingdom’s investment promotion agency, the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) said on Thursday.

Ibrahim Al-Omar, SAGIA governor, said that there were a lot of reforms that would have to be accomplished if it were to achieve top 20 status as measured annually by the World Bank, which put the Kingdom at number 92 in the world out of 190 countries.

But he said that there was a “great interest” among international investors to get more involved in business in the Kingdom and reforms were being pushed through fast.

“We are a model for the whole world in how to improve the business environment”, he said, highlighting the new arbitration and insolvency laws, the efficiency of the Kingdom’s ports, and the ease and speed of getting a business visa.

“There has been some negative feedback on the insolvency laws, but really they are a protection tool for any business. It will give you the opportunity to reschedule your liabilities,” Al-Omar said.

He met around 400 companies in the UK and US when he accompanied the royal tour of those countries, and told them of the Kingdom’s investment potential.

But he said there were risks perceived by international investors because of the limited clarity and awareness of reforms in the Kingdom. “It is hard to communicate when we’re going so fast,” he said.

Al-Omar, who described SAGIA as a provider of “VIP concierge services” for potential investors, also said that there was only limited market information about the investment opportunities available, and that SAGIA was setting up an online portal listing all potential deals on offer.


Search engine Baidu becomes first China firm to join US AI ethics group

Updated 17 October 2018
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Search engine Baidu becomes first China firm to join US AI ethics group

  • The Partnership on AI (PAI), which counts Alphabet Inc’s Google, Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. as members, is a body that develops ethical guidelines for AI research
  • Baidu’s inclusion in the group comes as Chinese and US companies are looking to ramp up cooperation on AI

BEIJING: Chinese search engine Baidu has become the first Chinese company to join an artificial intelligence (AI) ethics group led by top US tech firms, amid wider political clashes over AI competition between China and the US.
The Partnership on AI (PAI), which counts Alphabet Inc’s Google, Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. as members, is a body that develops ethical guidelines for AI research, including ensuring research does not violate international conventions or human rights.
Last year China’s industry ministry named Baidu as one of four national AI champions, and the search firm has invested heavily in autonomous driving and deep learning in recent years.
“Baidu’s admission represents the beginning of PAI’s entrance into China. We will continue to add new members in China and around the world as we grow,” said PAI in a statement on Tuesday.

 

Baidu’s inclusion in the group comes as Chinese and US companies are looking to ramp up cooperation on AI, despite a looming political scuffle between the US and China over technology transfers.
Last year China set out a roadmap to become a world leader in AI by 2025, with plans to invest roughly $400 billion in the industry in the coming years.
The ambitions have rankled the US government, which has discussed plans to bolster security reviews of cutting-edge technology, including AI, over fears that China could access technology of strategic military importance.
China’s AI roadmap encourages technology sharing between private, public and military research groups.
Despite the clash, US companies have expanded their AI presence in China while Baidu and other Chinese firms have launched AI research labs in the US.
Last month China’s cyber ministry hosted Google, Amazon Inc. and Microsoft Corp. at its annual AI forum. All three companies have launched AI research labs in China over the past year, despite tightening censorship and data restrictions that limit the companies’ involvement in the market.
At the forum, top government officials stressed that China’s development of AI technology would be ethically conducted, adding that they have plans to retrain workers who lose their jobs to AI.

Decoder

China’s AI roadmap encourages technology sharing between private, public and military research groups.