Deputy crown prince’s US visit very positive: Al-Jubeir

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Updated 18 June 2016
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Deputy crown prince’s US visit very positive: Al-Jubeir

WASHINGTON: After a week in Washington, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is heading west to meet with technology executives in Silicon Valley and then to New York to pitch his nation’s new economic plan to Wall Street investors.
The Deputy Crown Prince wants to discuss how Saudi Arabia can benefit from innovations spawned in California and then talk with New York investors about opportunities, including with Saudi Aramco, according to Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir.
The Kingdom plans an initial public offering of Saudi Aramco, which is expected to be valued at more than $2 trillion.
The prince is leading Saudi Arabia’s biggest-ever economic shakeup, moving to cut subsidies and diversify the economy away from oil by generating an extra $100 billion in non-oil revenue by 2020.
In Washington, he discussed economic and business issues with Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, National Economic Council Director Jeff Zients, US Chamber of Commerce officials and executives from UScompanies.
He also discussed sensitive defense and foreign policy issues with President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and visited the CIA to meet with Director John Brennan.
In the Oval Office, the deputy crown prince and Obama discussed conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen as well as Iran’s “destabilizing” activities in the region, the White House said in a statement.
“I would describe the meetings as very, very positive,” Al-Jubeir told reporters at the Saudi Embassy in Washington. The aim was to “exchange views and ideas on issues of the day on challenges that our two countries face in the region and the world,” he said.
On the Kingdom’s economic plans, “people in the US were very pleased with it and very supportive of it — the scope of it and breadth of it — and look forward to working with Saudi Arabia on the implementation of it,” Al-Jubeir said.
The visit comes at a sensitive time in a US-Saudi relationship that Obama described as “complicated” in an interview published in March by The Atlantic magazine.
Al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia has enacted laws and taken other measures to counter terrorism and terrorist financing.
“The charges that are leveled at Saudi Arabia are, one, not correct. I think they’re exaggerated, I think frankly, they’re not fair,” he said, adding that Clinton has “tremendous experience” and knows the region well.
He said the country’s relationship with the US will remain strong regardless of who becomes president next year.
“Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the US is bipartisan,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter who’s in the White House, this relationship will go on.”


IMF raises Saudi growth forecast on higher oil prices

Updated 21 min 21 sec ago
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IMF raises Saudi growth forecast on higher oil prices

  • The IMF raises its growth forecast for Saudi Arabia for the third time since October 2017
  • The IMF raises the growth forecast from 1.7% to 1.9% this year

DUBAI: The International Monetary Fund on Monday raised its growth forecast for the world’s top crude exporter Saudi Arabia, citing higher oil prices.
In its World Economic Outlook update, the IMF said the Saudi economy — which contracted by 0.9 percent last year — would grow by 1.9 percent in 2018, up 0.2 percentage points from its April projections.
This is the third time since October that the organization has raised its growth forecasts for the Kingdom, reflecting soaring oil revenues which make up more than 70 percent of Saudi income.
However, it maintained its Saudi growth projections for 2019 at 1.9 percent on predictions that oil prices would moderate.
Oil prices have more than doubled since early 2016, when major producers struck a deal to cut output.
Last month, they agreed to boost output again to compensate for key supply disruptions in Venezuela and Libya, and in a bid to ease prices that have hit $80 a barrel.
The IMF also slightly increased its growth estimates for the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan as a whole to 3.5 percent for this year and 3.9 percent for 2019.
Oil exporters in the region “have benefited from the improved outlook for oil prices, but the outlook for oil importing countries remains fragile,” the IMF said.
“Several economies still face large fiscal consolidation needs and the threat of intensifying geopolitical conflict continues to weigh on growth in the region.”
Riyadh-based Jadwa Investment estimated Saudi Arabia would boost its oil output to 10.3 million barrels per day for 2018, up from 9.9 million bpd for the first six months.
To achieve that, the Kingdom must pump around 10.6 million bpd until the end of 2018.
This will sharply cut Saudi Arabia’s budget deficit to around $30 billion (26 billion euros) from the projected $52 billion, Jadwa said in a report released last week.
Riyadh has posted a budget deficit for the past four consecutive years, borrowing from domestic and international markets and hiking fuel and power prices to finance the shortfall.
It also introduced a five percent value-added tax at the start of 2018.
Since 2014, Saudi budget deficits have totalled $260 billion.