Deals worth more than $50bn signed at KSA Future Investment Initiative

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih signed several of the deals announced at the FII. (Ziyad Alarfaj / AN)
Updated 23 October 2018
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Deals worth more than $50bn signed at KSA Future Investment Initiative

RIYADH: At least 25 deals worth more than $50 billion have been signed at Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh.
The contracts struck on the first day of the event included what were described as 12 “mega deals.”

Among the projects announced on Tuesday in front of an audience of international bankers, investors and thought leaders, was the second phase of Haramain high-speed railway. 
The deals were struck across the energy and transportation sectors despite the boycott of the event by several company chiefs following the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi embassy in Turkey earlier this month.
A number of major public transport projects, including the development of the Saudi Land Bridge project, a rail line connecting the Red Sea coast with Riyadh, were among the raft of deals signed.

Such large-scale infrastructure projects form a key part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 blueprint for economic and social diversifcation. It aims to reduce the country’s historical reliance on oil and gas revenues by investing in new industries that will also provide employment for the Kingdom’s youthful population.
Other deals were struck on Tuesday with Trafigura, Total, Hyundai, Norinco, Schlumberger, Halliburton and Baker Hughes.
Oil giant Saudi Aramco signed 15 initial agreements worth $34 billion.

Total CEO Patrick Pouyanné, told the gathering that the French oil and gas producer would announce a retail network in the Kingdom with Saudi Aramco.
The $10 billion Russian Direct Investment Fund also had a large presence at the event, led by Kirill Dmitriev.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), the main backer of the event, is driving the Kingdom’s economic reform agenda.
Managing director Yasir Al-Rumayyan said that the fund had invested in 50 or 60 firms via SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund and would bring most of those businesses to the Kingdom. PIF has committed to invest $45 billion in the Vision Fund.
The FII event, which debuted in the Kingdom last year, concludes on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia's Minister of Communications and IT Abdullah Al-Sawahah praised the speed at which Saudi Arabia is progressing in the digital worl, and said: "We are moving at light speed in becoming the tech hub of the region."

Meanwhile, Emirati businessman Mohamed Alabbar said: "There is so much room for technology growth and innovation in the Middle East, especially in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the whole region." 


Pacific Rim trade bloc meets in Tokyo, prepping for growth

Updated 10 min 22 sec ago
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Pacific Rim trade bloc meets in Tokyo, prepping for growth

TOKYO: Representatives from a Pacific Rim trade bloc geared up to roll out and expand the market-opening initiative as they met Saturday in Tokyo, reaffirming their commitment to open and free trade and inviting new membership.
The Pacific Rim free trade agreement, rejected by President Donald Trump after he took office in 2017, took effect at the end of last year after Australia became the sixth nation to ratify it. So far, seven of the 11 member countries have done so, and the others are expected to follow through soon.
Known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, the agreement aims to streamline trade and slash tariffs to facilitate more business among member nations with a combined population of nearly 500 million and GDP of $13.5 trillion.
The trade officials at the meeting in Japan’s capital reaffirmed the importance to promote free trade and economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, said Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, who chaired the gathering.
The 11 nations remaining after the US withdrawal amended the pact to enable it to take effect even without Washington’s participation. Vietnam, Canada, Mexico and Singapore also have ratified it. Peru, Chile, Brunei and Malaysia have not yet done so and were encouraged at the meeting to push forward the process.
“Amid growing concerns over recent trends toward protectionism, the ministers shared the view that it is of paramount importance to maintain and further strengthen the principles of an effective, open, inclusive and rules-based trading system,” Motegi said, reading from a joint statement.
In his opening statement earlier at the meeting, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe praised the 11 ministers for achieving the trade bloc at a difficult time for supporters of the free trade system amid rapid change in the increasingly globalized economy, causing concerns and frustration about the existing system and triggering trade disputes.
“We should not turn the clock backward. ... We need to squarely face any worries and anxieties and achieve fair regulation so as to further develop free trade. TPP is at the forefront of that movement,” Abe said. “The door is always open to those who share our vision, and those who accept TPP’s high standards.”
The US departure was a huge loss given the size of the American market. But others, including Taiwan, are reportedly interested in joining the trade deal, seen as a first step toward a pan-Pacific free trade zone.
Trump said he was putting “America first” in seeking bilateral deals rather than broader ones like the Trans-Pacific Partnership — the trading group’s original name. Members are still hopeful the US might eventually rejoin.
“We welcome new participation of as many countries and regions as possible, including the United States,” Motegi said.
For now, nearly two dozen stipulations sought by the US in the original deal reportedly have been shelved after Washington withdrew, watering down the plan proclaimed by the previous administration of President Barack Obama as being the “gold standard” for 21st century trade rules.
Separate efforts are underway to forge a free trade arrangement within Asia called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which encompasses the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India and China, but not the United States.