UK-Saudi council discusses enhanced investment, trade

Saudi Minister of Commerce and Investment Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi, center, with British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond. (SPA)
Updated 08 July 2019

UK-Saudi council discusses enhanced investment, trade

  • The statement said the volume of bilateral trade between the two countries exceeds $5 billion per year

JEDDAH: The UK-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council held the first meeting of its Economic and Social Committee on Sunday at the Ritz-Carlton Jeddah hotel. The meeting was attended by Saudi Minister of Commerce and Investment Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi and British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond.

A joint statement was issued at the end of the meeting emphasizing the UK’s continued commitment to supporting the implementation of Vision 2030, the Saudi program for economic diversity and social development.

The statement acknowledged the significant economic progress achieved since the launch of Vision 2030 in 2016, and that both countries have worked to support the development of the skills and competencies of Saudi citizens.

The statement stressed that the two countries are key strategic partners in Vision 2030, and both countries reaffirmed their commitment to building and developing trade and investment as well as achieving shared prosperity for the citizens of both kingdoms.

The statement said the UK’s appointment of Sir Ken Costa as the special envoy to Vision 2030, and Sir Anthony Seldon as the special envoy for education to the reform plan, reinforces the importance the UK attaches to the development of bilateral ties.

The goal is to support bridges of communication between the peoples of the two countries and provide opportunities for closer economic and social cooperation.

The statement stressed the commitment of Saudi Arabia and the UK to a long-term partnership to support the implementation of Vision 2030 in the areas identified as part of the strategic partnership. This comprises the assessment of joint investment opportunities, including the UK Public Investment Fund (PIF), bilateral trade and investment that achieves Vision 2030.

The statement said the volume of bilateral trade between the two countries exceeds $5 billion per year. 

The meeting discussed ways to further enhance cooperation, including the promotion of mutual exports and the attraction of direct domestic investments.

Saudi priority sectors for investment were discussed, and further work will identify additional areas for new strategic investment partnerships. The two sides also discussed investment permits given to British companies, which are estimated to invest more than $10 billion in capital.

The committee discussed the work of the private sector groups established in March 2018 to facilitate business-to-business relations, which contribute to the achievement of Vision 2030. The groups will meet in Riyadh and London at the end of this year to continue their work. The two sides expressed their appreciation for the high-level business leaders heading these groups.

The meeting reviewed the direct and indirect investment of the PIF in infrastructure, technology and logistics. The PIF will continue to work with the Department for International Trade to identify the strategic investment partners and the most important investment opportunities. The increase in the PIF’s participation will contribute to the advancement of opportunities in this field.

Houthi attack on Saudi Aramco facilities act of terror: Japanese defense minister

Updated 16 September 2019

Houthi attack on Saudi Aramco facilities act of terror: Japanese defense minister

TOKYO: Taro Kono, the defense minister of Japan, said that threats to his country’s oil supply was the “most worrying scenario” he could imagine in international relations, in the wake of attacks on Saudi Arabian oil production facilities. 

“The most pessimistic scenario right now is that something happens in the Straits of Hormuz and the oil supply gets cut down, and that would send a shock wave through the global economy. I think the price of oil is already rising after this attack on Saudi facilities, so that’s the most worrying scenario right now,” he told a conference in Tokyo, Japan.

However, speaking on the sidelines to Arab News, he insisted that Saudi Arabia would remain a reliable partner of Japan - which imports around 40 per cent of its crude from the Kingdom - and downplayed concerns about long-term supply problems.

“Saudi has been and will be an important source of our energy supply. We have international co-ordination, and we have reserves, so we are not really worried about that,” he said. 

Kono, who was until recently Japan’s foreign minister, said that his country would be seeking to promote diplomatic solutions to the latest Middle East conflagration. "We definitely need to ease the tension between those countries. As Foreign Minister, the last thing I was doing was calling the Iranian Foreign Minister and the French Foreign Minister to ease the tension the region through diplomatic actions, and I think it's important to continue doing it.

“This Houthi attack on Saudi is a little different, because it's a terrorist attack. I think we may require some kind of military operation against those drone attacks, and that's something out of Japan's constitutional boundary. I think Japan will be focusing on diplomatic efforts in easing tension in the region.”

He raised concerns about the apparent lack of sophistication in the recent attacks. “If it is really drones, that is a lot cheaper than any form of conventional missile,” he said.