Key tools for countries to attract business, tourism and investment discussed at Riyadh conference

Key tools for countries to attract business, tourism and investment discussed at Riyadh conference
Participants attend the three-day Future Investment Initiatives conference in Riyadh on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 26 October 2017

Key tools for countries to attract business, tourism and investment discussed at Riyadh conference

Key tools for countries to attract business, tourism and investment discussed at Riyadh conference

RIYADH: Five tools of trade were voted on as key factors for nations to attract new business, tourism and investment during the fourth session of the Future Initiative Conference in the Saudi capital on Wednesday.

These included investments in business partnerships (30.9 percent); infrastructure (26.9 percent), education (20.8 percent), incentive packages (15.4 percent), and culture and entertainment (15.4 percent).

These were discussed by five panelists during the session titled “Tools of trade: How nations are attracting new business, tourism and investment” with Zeinab Badawi, international broadcaster from Britain, as moderator.

The panelists included Qian Keming, vice minister at the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China; Raed Khoury, minister of economy and trade of Lebanon; Lim Hng Kiang, minister for trade and industry in Singapore; Steven Ciobo, minister of trade at the Ministry of Tourism and Investment in Australia; and Eucario Bakale Anguine Oyana, minister of economy, planning and public investment in Equatorial Guinea.

The audience, which included participants from various parts of the world, cast their votes after the panelists had spoken in answer to questions from the moderator on different topics on attracting investment.

Answering a question on investment climate in China, Qian said that each country has to establish infrastructure, and invest in education as well as in logistics.

Moreover, he added that China is part of the Asian region and that it is focusing on trade not only with the region but also with the world.

He said that China aims to stabilize economic growth and create new jobs and that it has come up with the “Made in China 2025” initiative.

The initiative draws its direct inspiration from Germany’s “Industry 4.0” plan, which was first discussed in 2011 and later adopted in 2013. The heart of the “Industry 4.0” idea is intelligent manufacturing, which means applying the tools of information technology to production.

However, the Chinese effort is far broader, as the efficiency of quality in Chinese policies are highly uneven, and multiple challenges need to be overcome in a short amount of time if China is to avoid being squeezed by both nearly emerging low-cost producers, and more effectively cooperate and compete with advanced industrialized economies.

For his part, Khoury said that infrastructure is very important in attracting new business, tourism, as well as investment.

He added that Lebanon has come up with a sectoral plan and set all the tools and incentives to attract investment, adding that “we need to innovate and be technology driven to do it.”

He noted that “there’s a global problem, and this is fatigue in fiscal policy.”

“Most countries are attracting the private sector. Saudi Arabia is going in that direction,” he said, obviously referring to Vision 2030.

Lim, on the other hand, said that Singapore has relied on a “diversified strategy in our economic development, [with] manufacturing comprising 80 percent.”

He said that “we concentrate our capacity in manufacturing, such as in robotics.” “We have a vision that citizens subscribe to and these include trust, maintenance of the trust, and execution of the vision.”

For his part, Ciobo, shared that Australia had experienced 26 years of continuous economic growth for its 23-24 million population.

Oyana, on the other hand, said that Equatorial Guinea has a set of rules to attract investment and that it had addressed key challenges on infrastructure and education, among others.

He said that his country may have all the needed infrastructure but its emphasis is on innovative education to equip its people with skills so that they become effective members of the labor force.

“We invest in infrastructure but we also have to invest in innovative education for the future of our country and its economy… Education, for me, is the key for Africa,” he said.