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.


World’s biggest sovereign fund worried about trade wars

Updated 21 August 2018
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World’s biggest sovereign fund worried about trade wars

  • The fund posted a positive return of 1.8 percent, or 167 billion kroner ($19.8 billion), in the second quarter
  • Markets are worried about a trade dispute between the United States and China

OSLO: The managers of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest, expressed concern Tuesday about global trade tensions, which could heavily impact its value.
The fund posted a positive return of 1.8 percent, or 167 billion kroner ($19.8 billion), in the second quarter, helping erase a loss of 171 billion kroner in January-March that was attributed to a volatile stock market.
The Government Pension Fund Global, which saw its total value swell to 8.33 trillion kroner by the end of June, manages the country’s oil revenues in order to finance Norway’s generous welfare state when its oil and gas wells run dry.
But Norway’s central bank, which runs the fund, said geopolitical and trade tensions presented a risk.
“It’s fair to say that increased trade barriers or even trade wars will not be beneficial for the fund as a long-term global investor,” Trond Grande, the deputy chief of Norges Bank Investment Management, told reporters.
Markets are worried about a trade dispute between the United States and China. Accusing Beijing of unfair competition, the US administration is considering slapping a new round of levies worth $200 billion on Chinese goods.
Talks between the two slated for Wednesday and Thursday aimed at resolving the dispute have however eased concerns somewhat.
Following US-Turkey tensions that sent the Turkish lira and the Istanbul stock market tumbling, the Norwegian fund said its assets there were worth less than the 23 billion kroner they were at the beginning of the year.
“We’ve seen the market rise for a long time, that there are different political and geopolitical events in the world that can affect the market, and we have to be prepared for the fact that (the value of) the fund can go down a lot,” Grande concluded.
The fund’s strong second quarter was attributed primarily to its share portfolio, which accounts for 66.8 percent of its investments and which rose by 2.7 percent.
Real estate holdings, which account for 2.6 percent of its holdings, rose by 1.9 percent, while bond investments, which represent 30.6 percent, remained flat.
Faced with falling oil revenues in recent years, the Norwegian government has been tapping the fund to finance public spending since 2015. But with oil prices recovering, the fund registered its first inflow in three years in June.